Will evildoers never understand? They consume my people as they consume bread; they do not call on the Lord. Then they will be filled with dread, for God is with those who are righteous. You sinners frustrate the plans of the oppressed, but the Lord is his refuge (14:4-6 CSB).
Now that we have heard both sinful mankind’s view of God and God’s view of sinful people, David presents what life is like for rebellious people, and how their lifestyle affects the people of God. The psalmist wants us to know that their way of thinking controls their way of living. People do not merely hold to theories in their heads. They live those theories, and the kind of life flowing from their hearts touches others.
David has stated under inspiration that no one understands. Now he asks a question, “Will evildoers never understand …?” Here we may see a great problem of the unregenerate mind. Having rejected the absolute God, and as a consequence the possibility of knowing absolute truth, they descend into irrationality. Humans were made to live in the truth like fish live in water, but since the Fall, the bias of the heart for evil and against righteousness makes the sinner pursue what is evil. Sinners may say that we ought to treat all people with respect and kindness, but their evil heart forces them into endless contradictions and wicked behavior. You need only consider the American political scene to see how people vilify, belittle, curse, and mock other people, when they had hypocritically declared that all people have worth and dignity.
Verse four provides us with two descriptions of their conduct. First, evildoers are against the godly. They consume my people as they consume bread. The people of darkness hate the people of light. In his holy wisdom, God decreed at the Fall that he would put enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. How so? Using Romans 1 as a pattern, God justly gives sinners over to the evil in their hearts, which naturally leads to violence. Why? I suggest a couple reasons: To show the true nature of evil to the righteous; to prevent the righteous from growing too close to evil people and becoming corrupted by them, and to provide opportunity for the righteous to display their character as children of the merciful God.
Observe how completely natural it is for the evildoer to persecute the righteous. It is like seeking to satisfy one’s appetite. “As pikes in a pond eat up little fish, as eagles prey on smaller birds, as wolves rend the sheep of the pasture, so sinners naturally and as a matter of course, persecute, malign, and mock the followers of the Lord Jesus” (Spurgeon).
God’s chosen people need this song, because it is too easy to allow yourself to forget the true character of unsaved people around you. “Oh, how few consult and believe the Scriptures setting forth the enmity of wicked men against God’s people” (Stuckley). Since God the Spirit may be restraining their evil for our good, or they fear the punishment of government, or they may not yet have come into conflict with us because of righteousness, they may act in a civil or kind manner toward us. But when the battle lines are drawn it is another matter! Consider the examples of Haman (Esther 3-7), King Saul (1 Samuel 18:6-12), Herodias (Mark 6:14-29).
“The world pretends to hate the godly for something else, but the ground of the quarrel is holiness… If the world hated Christ, no wonder that it hates us… John 15:18… this shows the world’s baseness, it is a Christ-hating and a saint-eating world” (Watson).
Second, evildoers do not call upon the Lord. They have an anti-God bias in their hearts that leads them to follow a different course of action from God’s chosen ones who do call upon the Lord (Luke 18:7; etc.) A Christian view of life sees God constantly involved in life, and so it is natural to call upon him for help. Since the evildoer suppresses the knowledge of God, he will not think of calling on him in a time of trouble; in other words, he does not honor God as God, but tries to live self-sufficiently. Therefore, they will think it strange when we suggest that God is involved and that he is able to help.
During this time of Covid-19, we do not see people turning to God in repentance and faith for the forgiveness of sins. That idea is mocked. God and his people are despised. People who are prejudiced against the true and living God will constantly refuse to call upon mercy. So then, what hope is there for them? It is only in the Lord Jesus Christ and the grace of the gospel that comes through him.
Grace and peace,