Why, LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.”
Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.
Many of us can relate to this psalm that David sings. God can appear very far away at times, very aloof. Wicked people seem to prosper even though they indulge every evil desire, while innocent men and women who try to lead lives pleasing to God suffer. Doesn’t God care? Of course, he does! Then why doesn’t he do something? When he returns, he will. He is coming back. When Jesus ascended into heaven, two angels appeared and told the amazed crowd: “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11)
And when he comes back, time he will come to judge the wicked and the righteous. As David’s heir — the wise King Solomon — said, “Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free” (Proverbs 11:21). And whatever we receive in heaven will more than make up for our suffering on earth.
“But when?” you ask. “When will he return?” It is a question the wicked ask too, mockingly. They say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). This is one of the reasons why the wicked do as they please. They believe there won’t be any repercussions because they think God doesn’t care. They say — as we heard in the psalm today — “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.”
But the Lord sees everything. And if he stays his hand, it is only out of love for man, even wicked man. It is why Jesus delays his return, hoping people will turn to him in repentance and be saved. As James said, when he explained why the Lord hasn’t yet come, “Don’t forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).
But it won’t be long now. We are in the last hours of the last days, and it won’t be long before the day of the Lord comes. “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10). Are you ready?
God be with you.