Question 2. Now look at David’s definition of “wickedness” in verses 3-5. (a) Define and describe the “wickedness” that so concerns David (v. 3 and v. 5). (b) How is verse 3b a complete reverse of what our relationships should be with others? (c) How do you measure up to this definition of wickedness?
(a) So we’ve established that the “wicked” are first “unbelievers.” Then what? (a) The “wicked” engage in behavior that indicates a love of and nurture for their sin. These people work their sins hard. First they speak peace with their neighbors while plotting evil in their hearts. The language makes it sound as if these people plot against those they are speaking with. There is a double-mindedness in this that takes effort. Think of the last time you, dear reader, had to carry on a conversation while actively plotting something else. If you could pull it off it was difficult. Plotting anything takes mental effort; plotting evil while speaking peace takes work at being evil. Only one who really values evil would do such a thing.
David also refers to the “work of their hands,” showing that whatever they plotted or considered, they carried into action. It was instructive for Jesus to explain that even a mental “You’re an idiot,” is murder enough to condemn a man. However, to take this thought-murder and then turn it into the “work of [one’s] hands” implies a radically unrepentant, high-handed series of thought, word and deed murders. To make any sin the “work of [one’s] hands” requires a massive escalation of scale if not type.
Lastly, the wicked did not regard the works of the Lord. This is about as good a definition of unbelief as is available. It also happens to bear repetition. Any person whose view of God is so low that he withholds his regard for Him is really imagining a false god and denying the real God, whose works are wondrous.
(b) Verse 3b is a reverse of how we are to treat our neighbors because we are to love them not only in speech but in thought and deed. Example: Jesus taught that we are to love our enemies, and pray for them. Jesus also taught us to pray in private. We can conclude that the two will sometimes go together; and this amounts to loving our neighbor in our thoughts (albeit prayerful thoughts.) The reason I use the teachings about loving and praying for enemies to answer a question about neighbors is that I assume we will be at least as solicitous for our neighbors before God as our enemies. The other indication that this is the reverse is that we are to perform deeds of love for our neighbor. Jesus commanded us to go the extra mile for our neighbor, and to literally give one’s shirt to someone who needs it. Today, neither seems like a big sacrifice if you can hop into your climate-controlled SUV and just drive your neighbor the extra mile, and then drive to Walmart to buy a t-shirt for yourself. But in that day, walking an extra mile cost a good amount of time, and it was clear that many of the people Jesus preached to were poor; that tunic was possibly the hearer’s last one. Today? give your neighbor your car keys for the day, and buy him a nice $500 gift card at Macy’s and tell him to get what he needs for himself. More painful? Yes. But we see that Jesus required his people to love their neighbors in thought, word, and deed, without double-mindedness or evil plotting.
(c) I don’t remember ever actively plotting this kind of evil against a neighbor. I do know that I should love my neighbor more and that comfort and convenience are too important to me. After writing the lines about giving my car keys to my neighbor and buying him a $500 gift card (to make my illustration more powerful,) I realized that I haven’t “taken one for the team” as often as I should have done. This may not be evil plotting, but the sin of omission related to it.
Using Praying the Psalms Group Study Product
All Bible quotes ESV