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Psalm 59: The God Who Laughs Print E-mail
Sunday, 14 August 2016

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My family has enjoyed watching the Summer Olympics in Rio this year. We sat amazed on Thursday night watching Michael Phelps win another gold as an olympic swimmer. He is impressive. He has won like twenty-five gold medals and few of those other kind when he was only fifteen. He is so dominant in the pool. In fact, I doubt there will be another athlete in my lifetime that is so dominant in his/her sport. He is just that good. But you know, I started swimming this year. As I talked about a few weeks ago, I go swim laps three maybe four times a week. I even invested in some goggles ($10 at the front desk of the YMCA). So as good as Phelps may be, I think I could take him. He doesnít scare me. Sure, heís a foot taller than me and has been swimming his whole life and is probably the greatest swimmer of all time, but I could take him. Just give me a shot and he would go down!

Itís a funny thought isnít it? Canít you see me out there racing against the most decorated olympian in history? He would beat me by a mile without even trying. He could swim two laps in the pool before I could finish one! The idea that I could beat Michael Phelps in a swimming competition is laughable (unless itís maybe Marco/Polo, I could take him in that). The same is true of anyone who thinks about making God their adversary. The idea that a mere mortal could compete with the Almighty is even crazier than me beating Phelps. Yet, men attempt it all the time. And God laughs. Not because He is cruel or sinister, just because the threat is not even real. Who can contend with the Maker of all things? In Psalm 59, David is crying out for deliverance and taking comfort in the fact that God is the One who will deliver him. Look at verses 1-2. The beginning note of this psalm says that it was written in response to Saul sending men to kill David (see 1 Samuel 19:11ff). Since these notes are not inspired, we cannot be absolutely certain that that is the case. Parts of the psalm fit that scenario and other parts do not. Perhaps David began the psalm when thinking about Saulís threat and then finished later when he was king over Israel. Either way, we see Davidís trust in God to deliver him from his enemies, whoever they may be. And why is he so confident? Because he knows that God is greater. We see this in several contrasts from the psalm. Letís consider these.

The wicked are unjust, but God rules justly

Those that are threatening David are doing so for no fault of his. Look at verses 3-4a. In the story with Saul, we know that David had done nothing to deserve Saulís anger. He was not disloyal to the king in any way. But Saul was jealous of David and so he sent men to kill him. Wicked men are not as concerned about justice as they are about power. They want all the power and they are willing to punish the innocent in order to get it. But God does not rule that way. His judgments are always just. David notes this in verses 4b-5 and 11-13. Look at those with me. David does not want them to die swiftly lest others do not learn the lesson. And what is the lesson? They need to learn that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth. David wants people to see that God is just. These men have acted wickedly. They have sinned with their lips and acted on their pride. So David asks the Lord to judge them, knowing that He will do so with justice. Wicked rulers and wicked men may ignore justice, but the One who rules over the ends of the earth does not.

The wicked continually pursue, but God continually protects

The wicked are normally persistent in their desire to harm others. David notes this in the refrain of this psalm. Look at verse 6 and 14. David compares the wicked to dogs who come back each evening looking to hurt David. They keep coming again and again, day after day. Such pursuit is difficult for any man to endure. Even if we seem to be strong at the beginning, it always seems certain that eventually we will be defeated.

But not when we remember that God is our fortress. Look at verses 9-10 and 16-17. God being our fortress is a common image in the psalms. He is our Rock. He is Mighty. He is impenetrable. He is undefeatable. For David, nothing created more confidence in the face of his enemies as the realization that they could never get to him due to the fortress that is our God. Think about the comparison. The wicked are mangy dogs wandering around in the streets and God is the fortress that they can never get through. They might bark all night, but they will still be on the outside in the morning.

The wicked are arrogant, but God is sovereign

The sad truth is that men really do think that they are going to defeat God and His people. They think that they will get away with their violence and injustice. They believe that they will never get caught. Look at verse 7. They are loud and obnoxious. They do violence with their lips. And they reason to themselves: ĎWho will hear us? Who will stop us?í And the answer to their questions come in verse 8. Look at that with me. People mistakenly assume that because God has not yet done anything that they are actually getting away with their sins. They figure that if they escape the consequences then they will escape future judgment. But this is the great error of men. Just because God has not acted, does not mean that He has not noticed. Just because God has not yet punished does not mean that He will not punish. The Lord is patient. The Lord works on His own timetable. But mark it down, He will not leave the guilty unpunished. You will never commit a sin that He is unaware of. Your sins are known by God. All of your lust, all of your gossip, all of your anger, all of your lies, all of your pride, is known by God. You have never, nor will you ever, get away with any sin. He knows it all. So then, how foolish is it for us to think that we are getting away with anything? How silly to think that God does not see or hear or know everything that we do or think? Itís like claiming that you can swim faster than Phelps. The Lord is in the heaven and He laughs at such foolishness.

At the same time, the God who laughs at the notion that the wicked will go unpunished should give us great comfort. Yes, we should be sobered by the fact that no sin goes unnoticed, but if we have turned from our sin and trusted in Christ, then we should take comfort in this fact as well. Why? For a couple of reasons. First, if God knows all of my sin, then I can trust Him when He tells me that it has all been paid for by Jesus. The death and resurrection of Jesus assures me that not just some of my sins have been paid for, but all of them have been paid for. As the old hymn states: ďMy sin--Oh the bliss of this glorious thought: my sin not in part, but the whole, Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul!Ē1 Second, if God is aware of every sin, then I can trust Him to bring justice for every situation. Like David, we can trust that when Christ returns, we will be delivered from all our enemies and everyone will receive justice for their sins. God knows all and sees all. He is greater than all the nations combined. He laughs at His adversaries and their foolish thinking. And such a God, a God who laughs, should be a great comfort to His people, just like He was to David.

The wicked grow hungry, but God satisfies

David characterizes the wicked as continually pursuing the righteous with their evil schemes. Yet, because the Lord is our fortress, their plans are continually frustrated. They are dogs in the street who eventually realize that they are hungry and cannot get their fill. Look at verse 15. Like a pack of mangy dogs trying to find whatever they can to eat, so the wicked search and search for satisfaction but never find it. There is an important lesson in this image: you can spend your life looking for satisfaction in sin, but you will never find it. Sin may be pleasing for a time. It can surely be enjoyable in the moment. But then it sours and leaves you wanting more. Just when you think that the next time will bring you the joy that you have been searching for, you realize that are just as empty as you have always been. This is the way of the world. This is the path of the wicked. This is life outside of Christ. Always roaming. Always looking. Always groaning. And never being satisfied.

But not so with the Lord. Look at verses 16-17 again. Do you see, or better yet hear, the contrast. The wicked are wandering in the streets moaning and groaning for food, while the righteous are singing Godís praises in the comfort of His fortress. The wicked continually search for satisfaction and the servants of God are filled with His strength and love. They cannot help but sing about all that He is and all that He has done for them. They overflow with praise for His steadfast love.

If all of this is true, if the wicked are continually searching for satisfaction and God is continually protecting and loving and filling His people with songs of praise, then why would you not long to be a part of His people. The Bible teaches that we have all gone our own way. We have all sinned and rebelled and been taken by the lie that we are more blessed to disobey than to obey. But the glorious good news is that Jesus came to set us free from our bondage to sin and foolish thinking. He lived a perfect life and died on the cross for our sins so that we could see the silliness of trying to find true satisfaction in rebellion to God. The Lord laughs at those who think they can best Him. Yet, He also joyfully gives grace and mercy to all who turn from their sins and call upon the name of Christ. So will you leave the folly of sin behind and trust in Christ as your Savior? Will you like David trust in the Lordís deliverance from all of your enemies? Will you find your satisfaction in the God who laughs? I plead with you to do just that. Amen. 

1 Taken from ďIt Is WellĒ by Horatio G. Spafford.

~ William Marshall

Last Updated ( Monday, 22 August 2016 )

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