In Psalm 1, the psalmist contrasts the godly versus the ungodly. He says blessed is the godly who delight in the law of the Lord for whatever he does shall prosper. However, this is not so with the ungodly. “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).
In today’s psalms, the psalmists describes several deeds of the ungodly:
1) his pride persecutes the poor
2) he boasts of his heart’s desires
3) he blesses the greedy and renounces the poor
4) he is too proud to seek God
5) his mouth is full of cursing, deceit, and oppression
6) he secretly murders the innocent
7) he preys on the helpless and the poor
The psalmist says in Psalm 10 that the ungodly perform their wicked deeds assuming that the Lord does not see – “He has said in his heart, ‘God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see’… Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, ‘You will not require an account’” (Psalm 10:11,13).
The ungodly are wrong. The Lord sees all:
- “For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees his every step” (Job 34:21).
- “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).
And the Lord will require an account:
- “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
- “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).
- “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
- “For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
The man the Lord appointed to judge the world is Jesus Christ, our Savior. Later in the story, Paul will tell the Christians that there will be a day when the Lord will serve justice to the ungodly and reward the godly – “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The judgment seat of Christ is not something that Christians need to fear because “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Jesus is coming later in this story to live a life we can’t live and to die a death that we deserve by taking on the sins of the world so that His perfect righteousness is credited to anyone who believes in Him. The psalmist says that the Lord will judge each person individually, but the righteous, the ones who trust in Him, do not need to fear as their salvation is secure:
- “The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works… Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in You” (Psalm 33:13-22).
- “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16).
We are all going to stand before the Lord one day. The ungodly, those who do not know Jesus Christ as their savior, will face judgment and be forever separated from the Lord – “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). But the righteous, those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, will be saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and receive rewards for deeds performed here on earth (Ephesians 6:8). “In other words, salvation is by faith, and rewards are by faith, but the evidence of invisible faith in the judgment hall of Christ will be a transformed life. Our deeds are not the basis of our salvation, they are the evidence of our salvation. They are not foundation, they are demonstration.” ~ John Piper.
More psalms tomorrow, so keep reading. (Psalms 1-2, Psalm 10, Psalm 33, Psalm 71, Psalm 91)