First Off…read Psalm 36.
I’m struck by verses 2 through 4. They stand out not only because they are so drastically different than the other 9 verses…but where 6 of them speak to who God is (verses 5-10) verses 2-4 speak of how good people THINK they are. And the psalmist doesn’t pull any punches here. She simply responds to what she sees, hears, and knows. The wicked people:
- Flatter themselves
- Don’t see their own sin and faults
- Out of their mouths come all kinds of vitriol
- Even when they lay down…evil and sin are not only plotted but accepted into their thoughts.
If you noticed in those 3 verses…it’s all about the individual. They are stuck on themselves, they love themselves, they find no fault within, they spew hate and evil and want nothing to do with wise decisions or good deeds and even while they are at rest (laying in their beds)…they still continue to drum up plans of evil and harm. These people are the epitome of what it means to be mean. The world revolves around them and they, themselves, are their best friend.
How lonely must this be? I ask because everything about those verses scream of having nobody. Nobody to show love to or receive it. Nobody to enjoy any moments of life with. Nobody to simply trust…because the person who is like this is not only always scheming and planning…but since all they do is spew and think harm…not only does nobody want to be around them but they themselves don’t trust anyone either.
What’s even sadder is that I can name a few people that I know fit into this category. It pains me to know there is that much anger, hatred, and poison in someone’s life.
Two things I want to point out here quickly. First off – this psalm is considered an “oracle”…a message given prophetically to someone. So on the one hand we can see this psalm as a message from God on an evil way of living (and in this case it’s the “unbeliever”) as opposed to the believer who acknowledges love, righteousness, justice, and peace.
Secondly… this is an oracle from God so it doesn’t mean we simply blow it off. And I say this because I think
- We possibly all know someone who does these types of things
- We’ve all personally done some of the things we read in verses 2-4 (and yes, I’m included in that).
Don’t we all, at some point (even sometimes currently) think higher of ourselves than we ought? Flattering ourselves so that we feel better? Have we not all lied and said harmful wicked things…purposefully deceiving others…even when we know the right thing we should be doing? Haven’t we all laid in bed and thought about how we were going to pay someone back or plotted a “plan B” should _________ happen? Yeah…that’s called plotting evil and committing ourselves to a “sinful course.”
Shoot….I’ve done all of those.
While David is praying to the Lord to be held firmly against people like this who are against him…and while you and I should also do that too…we also must live into verses 5-11 less we fall back into verses 2-4. And when we’re IN those times of verses 2-4…we must cling to verses 5-11 to help us get out of the funk.
So here is what we need to understand: One simply cannot dwell in God’s love and righteousness when one seeks evil and hatred and self-love. One simply cannot understand how “priceless” God’s unfailing love is when it’s not an interest to you…when you are, instead, filled with finding your OWN love for YOU. And here’s the biggest thing: One simply doesn’t want to dwell in the house of the Lord and drink in his river of delights (vs 8) when all you want to do is live for yourself.
Everything we are to do in life is in response to what God has done. Understanding you and your sin and evil desires, you and your actions and inactions towards others…EVERYTHING we do: In response to God’s love.
Simply put BECAUSE God loves…BECAUSE of everything Christ has done, God has done, and the work the Spirit CONTINUES TO DO…we simply respond with: LOVE.
And as I have stated, as I continue to preach from the pulpit week in and week out…our response is always to BE love. Not love for me…but love of others. Love of God. As God sacrificed for others…we sacrifice for others too. As God is shows mercy upon us – we show mercy on others.
Paul writes in Romans 12:9, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” In other words: seek life and living in God and not yourself. Love him, obey him, follow him, and do unto others as not only HE has done for them…but He has done for you.
So here is our challenge based off of the OPPOSITE of verses 2-4:
- Lift up others and encourage them with love and kindness…
- Understand your own limitations and sins…and seek restoration and help from God
- Speak love and truth…with an abundant amount of grace
- If it is wise and right? DO IT
- While laying in bed…be in prayer about all you have done and where God wants you to share and give His grace and love the next day…AND DO IT.
Be God-minded today, tomorrow, and in all situations to people. I’m pretty sure that if we all did that…we could start a revolution.