A Study of Contrasts
by Pastor Dave Mann
Today’s text is a study of contrasts between the righteous and the wicked – vv. 7-9 and vv. 10-11. This is not uncommon in Scripture. See Psalm 1.
Those who are made righteous by the Lord have multiple benefits. God, the only Upright One, makes all these good things available to them.
The Lord makes their path level and smooth.
They walk in the way of God’s laws.
The desire of their hearts is focused on the name and renown of the Lord. See Isaiah 55:13 -- This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.
Their soul yearns for God; their spirit longs for the Lord. See Psalm 42:1-2 (yesterday’s text) -- As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? By his mercy, God grants and fulfills this desire.
The wicked, however, that is, the enemies of the Lord, have a different experience.
Even when they experience the grace of God, they do not learn righteousness. See also Romans 2:4 -- Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Even when they live among others who are righteous, they go on doing evil. There will come a day when God will sadly say, “Okay, have it your way.” Revelation 22:11 -- Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.
Though the majesty of the Lord is visible, they do not see it. See also Romans 1:20 -- For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Even as God lifts his hand ready to come down in judgment, they are oblivious to God’s patience. God holds back his final judgment, waiting for their repentance. See also 2 Peter 3:9. 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.
Lord God, as St. Augustine prayed, “Command what you will and grant what you command.” For us to be part of the righteous is a gift of grace from you. Our hearts yearn to be numbered among the righteous. This is only possible because of what Jesus, the Upright, has done for us, for we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.