Skye Jethani calls watching or reading the news “a faith-challenging activity.” Do you know the feeling? Living in South Africa, headlines like the following are all to common:
- “ANC seeks legal advice as members ignore calls for corruption accused to step aside.”
- “Brendin Horner murder trial: Allegations of death threats, bribes and police involvement aired during bail application.”
- “Family of murdered Giles couple offers R100K reward for killers.”
- “Pretoria man shot during attempted cell phone robbery.”
Psalm 58 ended, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.” Yet, as we consider headlines such as the above, we wonder where the God who judges on earth is. Why does he appear silent as evil men run rampant in our country?
Psalm 59 wrestles with this question. As David fled from another attempt of Saul to murder him (see superscription), he pleaded for deliverance. “They lie in wait for my life,” he lamented. “Fierce men stir up strife against me” (v. 3). He describes the wicked as howling dogs, prowling about the city, their evil deeds matched only by their vile mouths, their thoughts convincing them that their wicked actions would go unnoticed (vv. 6–7, 14–15).
It is easy to imagine how David might grow despondent. Why must he face such wickedness when he knew that God could, and ultimately would, intervene to put an end to evil? It made no sense. How could he faithfully continue serving God in such circumstances?
People frequently turn from Christianity when they see evil in the world. Failing to understand why a loving God will not immediately put an end to every semblance of evil, they abandon the faith when suffering strikes. David knew that the way to overcome this temptation was to focus on the long game. He prayed that God would “spare none of those who treacherously plot evil” (v. 5) and asked God to “make them totter by your power and bring them down” (v. 11). He pleaded with God to “consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth” (v. 13).
But, ultimately, it was not in divine wrath that David found his hope. Instead, he declared in faith, “O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on his enemies” (vv. 9–10). Notice carefully: He believed that God would act against the wicked out of love for his people. Because of God’s covenant love, he was confident that wickedness would not win the day.
He appealed to “steadfast love” again in v. 16 and “steadfast love” literally has the last word in the psalm (both in English and in Hebrew): “O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love” (v. 17).
News of wicked men prowling and prospering may be disheartening to you, but allow Psalm 59 to encourage you that, in the end, love wins. God’s steadfast love will ensure the end of the wicked and the eternal prospering of the godly.