A Picture of Wickedness
Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies
1 Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? 2 In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor— let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.
3 For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord. 4 In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”; all their thoughts are, “There is no God.”
5 Their ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of their sight; as for their foes, they scoff at them. 6 They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved; throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.”
7 Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under their tongues are mischief and iniquity. 8 They sit in ambush in the villages; in hiding places they murder the innocent.
Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; 9 they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert; they lurk that they may seize the poor; they seize the poor and drag them off in their net.
10 They stoop, they crouch, and the helpless fall by their might. 11 They think in their heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
12 Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed. 13 Why do the wicked renounce God, and say in their hearts, “You will not call us to account”?
14 But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers; seek out their wickedness until you find none. 16 The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land.
17 O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear 18 to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.[a]
This is not a very pretty Psalm, but instead serves as a reminder of the encompassing corruption of evil. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote of this Psalm, this is “the picture of a proud sinner who lives their atheism.” —Class Notes on the Psalms Therefore it stands for us as the anti-example, or the true vision of the anti-Christ.
The tone of the entire Psalm changes around verse 16 when suddenly the Lord, our king appears and his eternal nature becomes abundantly clear. He has been and always will be! For those who are living under the oppression of the wicked, there is a call to prayer. The Lord will hear the desire of the meek and strengthen their hearts, doing justice for the orphan and oppressed. This is the foreshadowing of the coming Messiah who will break the bonds of evil forever! Wickedness will not prevail.
As we live into the life of the Messiah, we become overcomers! Clothed with Christ we become his ambassadors on earth and the things that we touch are the things that he touches. In the process, the bonds of the wicked are broken and the picture of the proud atheist begins to fade from popularity, but only as we are genuinely clothed in Christ and used by God to answer the prayers of the meek. This is what happens as God’s holy people live into Christ! The picture of wickedness in the world begins to fade — but only, if we are genuinely living in Christ. The powerlessness of Christians could be a result of an external form of Christianity without truly being “in Christ” and if this is the case, the picture of wickedness will continue to grow. We must live into Christ and therefore live out our faith, touching the world with his power and presence.
Somehow I’m afraid that we’re awaiting God’s moment when he will “zap” evil from the face of the earth. We are God’s secret weapon, God’s people united with Christ and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. If we refuse to reach out to the places where evil resides then God will not be there. For the picture of wickedness to fade, God’s Holy Spirit filled people must be willing to be used as instruments of transformation to his glory.
Lord, please use us, your children, today. Amen.