Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
For Sunday, May 31, 2009
Day of Pentecost
For this reading v. 35a is curiously omitted. I wonder what it says. “But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more.” Ah… Maybe someone thought this one of those embarrassing parts of Scripture better left unreferenced. Yet if we are going to take the Bible seriously we cannot simply cut and paste to suit our fancy.
An unsympathetic reading of v. 35a might conclude that this is a sort of Christian Jihad – a loving faith not yet fully formed. Yet what would a sympathetic reading yield? Let’s consider the context. The Psalmist is reveling in the multitudinous works of Creation and a Creator who both gives life, takes it away, and then gives it once again (vv. 24-30). Our author then prays that the glory of the Lord endure forever (v. 31). This may be the key: the problem with sinners and wickedness is that they detract from the glory of the Lord. The Psalmist is not arguing that ardent believers strap on bomb vests to blow up infidels. He is simply praying that the glory of the Lord would fill the entire earth. This entails that sinners and wickedness be no moreand in fact when the new heaven and the new earth are created this will be the state of affairs.
The Christian worldview contends that what plagues Man is none other than his sin and wickedness. There is no other diagnosis that better fits the facts of the violence, depravity, and cruelty we must all acknowledge all around us.
To expunge sinners and wickedness from our Bibles is to expunge half of the gospel’s redemptive message. Let us rather face reality as it is: we are wicked sinners offered forgiveness in a matchless Savior. If you are reading this, and have not yet believed on Christ for the forgiveness of your wickedness and sin, may you right now receive Christ’s gift of forgiveness and new life.
You will never be the same.