EVIL IN THE DARKNESS
Lord, protect us from our adversaries
Read PSALM 36
For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord.
1 I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:[b]
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.
2 In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
3 The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good.
4 Even on their beds they plot evil;
they commit themselves to a sinful course
and do not reject what is wrong.
5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
10 Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 May the foot of the proud not come against me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 See how the evildoers lie fallen—
thrown down, not able to rise!
a Psalm 36:1 In Hebrew texts 36:1-12 is numbered 36:2-13.
b Psalm 36:1 Or A message from God: The transgression of the wicked / resides in their hearts.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out” (John 1:5, GNT).
We share David’s lament and his anger at those who plot his overthrow, living as if there were no God. Verse 1, notoriously difficult to translate, is literally “oracle of the sinfulness of the wicked in the midst of the heart of me.” David is concerned, as we are, with those who disregard God and whose evil thoughts are deep-seated—a concern regularly voiced in the psalms (e.g., Psa. 10) and vividly depicted in today’s image of the godless man lying awake at night plotting evil. For that reason, the NRSV’s compelling ﬁrst verse starts “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in their hearts.” We all know there are people who focus their talents on doing what is wrong—people, as Jesus said, much cleverer than the “children of the light” (Luke 16:8). The digital world has opened up immense opportunities for ill-intentioned people to harm others. The perpetrators of cyber fraud and internet porn are seemingly always several steps ahead of those trying to catch them. Like David’s description of the sleepless man plotting evil, I have a similar image of cybercriminals at their computers late at night, accessing the dark web. They could just as easily be at a desk in a bank, but the image is compelling: the almost visceral feeling into which the Bible taps by using the universal duality of light and darkness as ﬁgures of good and evil.
Like David, we long for their downfall (12), but realistically we know what David does not: justice must await its resolution not in this life but the next. In the meantime, David’s answer must be our answer. Our focus must be on the light rather than the darkness. We must “set [our] minds on things above” (Col. 3:2), upon the righteousness of our God, who, as the Teacher tells us at the tail end of Ecclesiastes, will bring every work into judgment, good or evil.
O God of love and light, in You there is no darkness at all. In Your light, may we see light.
Lord, Your people rejoice that we have a God who overlooks nothing and who in perfect righteousness will both reward and punish in the next life.
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