This is the prayer of a man of God in great trouble, standing out for God in an evil day, when the Lord’s people were greatly oppressed, and the honour of God was being trampled in the mire. The prayer wells up from an oppressed heart struggling against great difficulty.
Psalms 94:1. LORD God, —
“ O Jehovah, El.” Men of God in trouble delight to call upon the name of the Lord. His very name is a stronghold to them; the infinite Jehovah, the strong God, EL: “O Lord God,”-
Psalms 94:1. To whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.
Vengeance does not belong to us; it is not right for any private individual to attempt to avenge himself; but vengeance belongeth to the just Judge, who will mete out to all the due reward of evil or of good. Hence, my appeal is to the Court of King’s Bench, or higher still, to the King himself: “O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.” When false doctrine abounds, only God can put it down. All the efforts of the faithful will be futile apart from him.
Psalms 94:2-4. Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud. LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and Speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?
That expression, “ How long?” repeated three times, is very sorrowful; it seems to get into a kind of howling or wailing; but a child of God, when he sees things going wrong with his Lord’s kingdom must grow somewhat impatient, and he vies out to his God, “How long ? How long ? How long wilt thou bear it ?” The very triumphs of the wicked, and the hard things they say, with which they seem to bubble over like fountains, ( for that is the forge of the term “utter and speak” used here, ) stir the heart of the man of God to its very depths. He gets by himself alone, and grieves before God of, and out of a full heart he thus cries to him, How long shall they utter and speak hard things ? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves ?”
Psalms 94:5. They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, —
There is a strong plea. Hear that declaration, for the Lord of hosts says to his people, “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of mine eye.” In days of persecution the saints earnestly pray in this fashion, “They break in pieces thy people, Jehovah,”
Psalms 94:5-6. And afflict thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.
This made the appeal still stronger, for God’s is “a Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widows.”
Psalms 94:7. Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.
Yet this very God of Jacob came to the troubled patriarch at Jabbok, and blessed him there, and he said to heathen kings, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm,” so can it be true that he does not see and regard what the wicked I do to his people? They dare to say so, and render themselves the more brazen in their sin because of this their infidelity.
Psalms 94:8. Understand, ye brutish among the people:
Here the pleader turn into a prophet, and, after having spoken to God, he now speaks to men. Understand, ye boors,” for so the word may be rendered, “ye swine among the people:”
Psalms 94:9. And ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shalt he not see?
You say that God does not see, that he does not regard; but how can that be? You are mad to talk so. He that gave men the sense of hearing, cannot he himself hear? He that gave them sight, cannot he see
“Shall he who, with transcendent skill,
Fashion’d the eye, and form’d the ear;
Who modell’d nature to his will,
Shall he not see ? Shall he not hear ?
“Vain hope! His eye at once surveys
Whatever fills creation’s space;
He sees our thoughts, and marks our ways,
He knows no bounds of time and place.”
Psalms 94:10. He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct?
He judges are nations, read the Book of Providence, and see how he deals out justice to nation after nation, so shall he not also correct the individual man :
Psalms 94:10. He that teacheth man knowledge,
If you look at your Bibles, you will see that the translators have put in here the words “shall not he know “ They are printed in italics because they are not in the original. The original is very abrupt, it is as if the psalmist had said, “There, I am tired of arguing with you. You can draw your own inference; I will leave you to do that for yourselves. Fools as you are, I need not draw the inference for you.” “He that teacheth man knowledge.” Does man really know anything unless God teaches him ? Adam was taught of God at the first, and every particle of true science that man knows has been imparted by God. I do not say that God is the author of the science of today; much of that evidently comes from man; but all true knowledge is imparted to us by God. “He that teacheth man knowledge,” do you think, do you dream that he does not himself know everything?
Psalms 94:10-11. Shall not he know? The LORD knoweth the thought of man, that they are vanity.
He knows that men are vanity, that they are, according to one translation, a vapour. The men themselves are but a vapour; but as for their thoughts, their intellect, their power to think, that of which many men are most proud, what does God think of this? What a wonderful thing “modern thought” seems to be ! But listen to this, “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are nothing.” Vanity is a negation, it is a bubble, a thing poked up, that has no substance in it: “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.”
Psalms 94:12. Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teach him out of thy law;
These are two things that go well together, — a rod and a book; no man ever learns much without both rod and book. “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest.” The book is never properly understood without some touches of the rod, but the book must be there also: “and teaches” him out of thy law, “for, if it were all rod and no book, there would be plenty of sores, but there would be no learning. Have you got the two together, my dear friend ? Have you been of late very much with the book in a nook, and very much with the rod upon your bed ? Well then you are a blessed man, for the psalmist says, “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teaches” him out of thy law.”
Psalms 94:13. That thou mayest give him a rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.
In these days, the quiet virtues are not prized as much as they ought to be. Men are always busy, they must be ever on the trot; but blessed is the man who is so taught by the book and by the rod that he comes to a holy quietism, and learns to rest. The best rester is the best worker. He who knows how to sit at Jesus’ feet knows how to work for Jesus better than if he were continually running about, and getting cumbered with much service. We never learn the secret of this rest by the book alone, or by the rod alone; but the rod and the book together teach us to rest from the days of adversity; they teach us not to lay the present too much to heart, not to fret because of things as they are today, but to think of what is to be in that day when the righteous shall be rewarded, and when the mighty Hunter shall have trapped his adversary and ours, when the pit shall be digged for the wicked, and Satan’s power shall be for ever destroyed
Psalms 94:14. For the LORD will not cast off his people,
He may cast them down, but he will never cast them off.
Psalms 94:14. Neither will he forsake his inheritance.
Even men will not give up their inheritance. This is especially the case among the Jews; you remember how Naboth would not sell his inheritance, he would sooner die. And the Lord will not forsake his inheritance, there is a sacred entail upon his people that never can be broken; and he will never give them up.
Psalms 94:15. But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.
The wicked may be the upper spokes of the wheel just now, but they will be the lower spokes before long. Truth may be in the mire today, but she shall be upon them tomorrow. The revolutions of the wheels of providence produce strange changes. Wait; work; watch; for the Lord will set things right in his own good time.
Psalms 94:16. Who will rise up for me against the evildoers or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
The psalmist appeals for helpers, but he gets no response from man; and sometimes the man of God will have to stand alone, and that is an education for him. Blessed is he who has learned to hang on the bare arm of God; he is better off without his earthly friends than he was with them.
Here is the answer to the psalmist’s question: —
Psalms 94:17. Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.
You may be one of the best of God’s servants, and yet that may be your experience. Here is another piece of testimony in which many of us can join: —
Psalms 94:18. When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.
“My foot had slipped from under me, I was down; and then, even then, thou didst put underneath me thine everlasting arms. ‘Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.’”
Psalms 94:19. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.
“My thoughts” — so some read this verse, — “seem inter twisted and interlaced like the many boughs of a tree. I cannot make them out myself, they are in such a tangle.” But the bird has learned to sit among the boughs, and sing: “Thy comforts delight my soul.” There are thoughts of grief, thoughts of fear, thoughts of disappointment, thoughts of desertion, thoughts of a broken heart, all sorts of thoughts, but God’s comforts come in, and delight the soul. You know what it is — do you not? — to be cast down, but not destroyed, to be troubled, and yet to be happy. “As sorrowful,” says Paul, “yet always rejoicing;” whereupon an old divine remarks that it is “as sorrowful” — quasi sorrowful; but it is not “as alway rejoicing.” There is no “quasi” to that, but there is a real joy in the midst of a seeming sorrow. “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”
Psalms 94:20. Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?
Lord, art thou on their side? Oh, no, and as thou art not on their side, I care not who is. So long as thou wilt not aid iniquity or help wrong-doing, I will fight the battle through.
Psalms 94:21-22. They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood. But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.
He gets away unto his God as he had been accustomed to hide in the cave of Adullam out of reach of his foes; and then he sits down in peace to sing.
Psalms 94:23. And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the LORD our God shall cut them off.