Psalm 92 – Justice and Knuckleheads

Bible opened to Psalm 92 with Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans topped with Justin's Almond Butter on zebra plate

Today’s passage: Psalm 92

Today’s chocolateEndangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans topped with Justin’s Almond Butter

All is well in today’s psalm. The psalmist is glad to praise God with songs and stringed instruments, the wicked are brought to justice, and the righteous prosper while thanking God through worship. Going by Brueggemann’s classification scheme, with which by this time you are certainly well-acquainted, this is a psalm of orientation. As the saying goes, God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.

Though there is no mention of the (unidentified) psalmist having suffered disorientation, I wouldn’t call this psalm naive. It makes the familiar contention that evil men only prosper in the short term. Specifically, it contends that you’d have to be naive yourself to think otherwise:

A senseless man has no knowledge,
Nor does a stupid man understand this:
That when the wicked sprouted up like grass
And all who did iniquity flourished,
It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore. (6-7)

This is a pretty harsh charge, and checking out the original Hebrew doesn’t soften the blow. Strong’s Concordance identifies the word “senseless” as ba’ar, “brutish,” derived from beir, which refers to beasts like cattle. In the same vein, the word here translated “stupid” is the Hebrew kesila fool or stupid person. The psalmist is in effect saying, “You’re a human being, not a cow! Use the foresight God gave you and see that God’s enemies enjoy fleeting prosperity only to be destroyed, you knucklehead!” While the psalmist speaks from a place of orientation, his words could well incite disorientation among his readers.

After all, the psalmist isn’t saying that folks are ignorant who think evildoers do well for themselves, like it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing that eventually evil receives its due punishment. He’s saying it’s actually idiotic not to see that God’s justice plays the long game. Hard pill to swallow, eh?

But I feel like I’ve gotten lost in the trees of these two verses and failed to offer a view of the forest. The psalmist’s aim is not to insult those who question the fairness of the universe, but to praise God for his strength and righteousness, and the tone is one of joy. “For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands” (4), he sings. The wicked may be prospering short-term, but guess who else is doing well? It’s the psalmist. He continues: “But You, O Lord, are on high forever” (8). His well-being will outlast his foes’ because it’s grounded in the God whose greatness never ends.

So those other guys? Let ’em do evil, they’ll get what’s coming. God is good.

 

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