A Devastating Demonstration of Foolish Thinking

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The careful reader of the Psalms will notice before long that many of the prayers are grouped thematically. Psalm 94 finds itself in such a collection. Psalms 93–100 emphasise the theme of divine kingship. There is repeated reference in these psalms to the Lord reigning, or the Lord as king, or the Lord’s throne. While Psalm 94 does not explicitly contain such reference, its theme—the exercise of justice—is certainly a royal one. Only a king has authority to exercise the justice this psalm envisages.

The psalmist portrays the Lord as judge of those who oppress the vulnerable and mistreat his people. These evildoers believe that they can act with impunity, brashly boasting, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive” (v. 7). The psalmist counters that the God of vengeance (v. 1) certainly hears, sees, and acts (vv. 9–10).

A well-known rabbinical teaching highlights three ways we might safeguard against falling into arrogant sin: First, remember that there is an ear that hears everything; second, remember that there is an eye that sees everything; and, third, remember that there is a hand that writes everything into the book of knowledge to be opened at the final judgement. Sadly, far too many people think that they need not heed this counsel.

Of course, the easiest targets in whom to identify this kind of thinking are rank atheists and humanist sceptics. They often openly defy the Lord, declaring that there is no God to fear and no judgement to face. They arrogantly mock the idea of a divine, eternal king who hears, sees, and holds them accountable for their every word, thought, deed, and motive.

Sadly, however, such arrogance is not the exclusive domain of the godless. There are far too many in the community of the faith who display similar thinking, even if not as openly.

Consider, for example, the “irreverent babble” of Hymanaeus and Philetus that was spreading like gangrene in Ephesus and “upsetting the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:16–19). It is doubtful that this babble was publicly promoted from the pulpit. More than likely, it was murmuring behind closed curtains. No doubt these two men believed that their evil talk was going unnoticed. But God heard. God saw. God held them accountable.

We all sin. Even Christians. Sadly, we all—even Christians—delude ourselves into thinking that our sin goes unnoticed. And the longer we get away with our sin, the more it reinforces our own delusion. If others do not hear, see, and hold us accountable, neither does God, we tell ourselves. When we fall into that thinking, we need a good dose of Psalm 94: “He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge—the LORD—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath” (vv. 9–10).

H. C. Leupold memorably captures the burden of this psalm: “There has, perhaps, never been a more devastating demonstration of the foolish thinking which men occasionally become guilty of when they imagine that the Lord is not aware of what they are doing.”

As you reflect on Psalm 94 today, pray that God will deliver you from this devastating demonstration of foolish thinking. Remember: He hears. He sees. He holds accountable. Instead of hiding behind the delusion that he does not hear and see, confess your sins and experience the grace of the one who is faithful and just to forgive your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.