Psalm 28 Study Question 1
Question 1. This psalm is a prayer of petition. (a) What two things is David asking for with regard to the wicked (v. 3 and v. 4)? (b) Why do we have more assurance than David did that the petition of verse 3 will be answered?
3 Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.
4 Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward.
In verse 3, David is asking for a different fate than that given to the wicked, the workers of evil. In verse 4, David asks that the wicked receive their due reward; he wants God to repay them according to their evil work.
I always have trouble with “reward” verses in the Bible. I know that I am a sinner, and if I were to be repaid according to my sins I wouldn’t be able to stand before God. The flow of this particular doubt goes like this:
I’m a sinner … sinners do evil … the evil that sinners do deserves punishment by a righteous judge … God is the holy judge of the world … He has promised to judge all evil … I’m screwed.
Again, this is a doubt, not the truth. If it were not possible for a believer to have a doubt, it would not have been possible for the a believer to cry out “Help my unbelief!” to Jesus. (Note on the phrase “cry out”: it means “yell.” The man in the passage yelled at Jesus.) Still, it’s bracing to read David, a man after God’s own heart, asking God to drag the wicked away. That’s not a pretty image.
It’s important to remember that David knew he was also a sinner, yet felt confident to ask God to distinguish him and his fate from the wicked and their fate. The only way this can be squared is to read “unbeliever” for “wicked” (I think this is true of the whole Old Testament.) Maybe the Jews used “wicked” to describe those without the Law because they lacked relationship with God and so had no divine moral compass. In other words, God first created a relationship with His people and then gifted them the Law; to those with whom He did not make a relationship, He did not give his Law so clearly (however, He did write it on their hearts.) All this is to say that the category “wicked” presupposes a lack of a relationship with God.
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