Ep.207: Psalm 94: Praying in Three Voices.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

In Psalm 94, the poet speaks with three voices of prayer: a voice of complaint, a teaching voice, and a voice of confidence and praise. 

The psalm starts with a complaint to Jehovah, God of vengeance.

This psalm, and others, present two different views of God’s vengeance. The first view is the vengeance as imagined by the poets. The poets are not impartial judges, objectively suggesting measured punishments for measured evil. As victims of ruthless oppressors, bloody wars, slander in court, sometimes hounded to death, they want God to set things right…now… by stopping the evil and stomping on the evildoer.. The poets offer helpful suggestions for how to punish enemies and destroy their lives and property. While we approve the poets’ desire for justice, we are sometimes shocked at their vicious suggestions for revenge. 

The other view of God’s vengeance is how God works to bring about justice. He rarely follows the poets’ violent suggestions. Instead, he’s fair and just in protecting the innocent, delivering the weak, and helping the poor against abusive adversaries. God’s administration of justice often lets people reap what they sow.Those who live by the sword die a violent death. 

After his prayer for justice, the poet adopts a teacher’s voice, pointing out that ignoring God is not an option. Despite God’s silence and apparent indifference, he is attentive to the world he made and the people he loves. God who created ears . . . hears what is happening. God who created eyes . . . sees injustice. God who disciplines the nations . . . will set things right. But perhaps not on the urgent schedule the poet would prefer.  

The poet now moves to his third voice, expressing praise and thankfulness to God. He says,
  When my foot was slipping,
        your unfailing love supported me.
  When anxiety was great within me,
        your consolation brought me joy (vv. 18-19).
  The Lord has become my fortress,
        my God the rock in whom I take refuge (v. 22). 

Let’s pray. 

Lord, we feel that violence should be rewarded with violence. Isn’t the answer to bad guys with guns, good guys with guns? Isn’t the answer to murder, to kill the perpetrator by capital punishment? Isn’t the answer to assault and bloodshed to visit violence on the guilty? Are you not God, the avenger? Do you not find our suggestions helpful?

O God, you are slow to avenge, slow to stop the violent in their tracks, slow to rescue the orphan and widow and alien. Is this because you are not paying attention? Do you not see? Do you not hear?

But you who created the eye, you do see. You created the ear, you do hear. You discipline the nations, surely you will punish the wicked and set the world right. We submit our case to you, God. If our violent solutions are not acceptable, if our proposed schedule is unhelpful, we invite you to do your work in your way and in your time.  

We give thanks that you are God. When we have great anxiety, you console us with joy. When we are vulnerable, you are our fortress. Lead us and protect us until our lives are safe and our world is at peace.


I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.