Psalm 94 is another of those (what I call) “sleeper Psalms” – that is – one of those “jewels” that we often pass over in our haste.
We have our favorites – the 23rd Psalm; Psalm 42, and 27 and 9 and 119, etc. We’re also familiar with and love Psalm 100, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all ye lands…” (just can’t get away from those “memorized” KJV Psalms!)
In my research I’ve found many things about Psalm 94: it is the “Wednesday” Psalm (“A Psalm of David for the 4th day of the week” – Albert Barnes); it is a part of a group called “Kingdom Psalms” (J. Vernon McGee); it’s “The Consolation of Prayer under the Oppression of Tyrants” (Keil & Delitzsch) and it’s “An appeal to God against oppressors” (Adam Clark.)
Some say that David wrote it, but others say it was written much later… I don’t really know, but for me (as per my book “Studying the Psalms with a Simple Heart”) Psalm 94, I think, is a picture of a “relationship prayer.” Let me explain.
I see, in this Psalm, a picture of a person (one who has a very deep relationship with God) having a conversation with Him. There is a vast difference between “just praying words” and “sharing in dialogue” with your Heavenly Father.
You can tell, when someone’s praying, if they “know” Him or just “know about” Him. (Even with those who aren’t comfortable “praying in public” – you can tell if they know “Who” they are talking to or not!)
The psalmist here “knows Him.”
As you read the psalm you can see it alternate between the person talking to God, talking to “the wicked” and talking to himself. And, if you’ve ever been in a time of intense prayer with God, you’ve done the same thing.
For sake of clarity, the “prayer” portion will be in yellow bold; the “self-talk” will be in red; and the rebuke to the “wicked” will be in orange. (The “version” is NASB)
He begins with a prayer – a cry for help from God (verses 1-7).
Psalm 94:1-7 “O LORD, God of vengeance, God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O Judge of the earth, Render recompense to the proud.
How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult?
They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.
They crush Your people, O LORD, And afflict Your heritage.
They slay the widow and the stranger And murder the orphans.
They have said, ‘The LORD does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.’”
Then he speaks to the “situation” which plagues him (verses 8-10)
Psalm 94:8-10 “Pay heed, you senseless among the people; And when will you understand, stupid ones?
He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see?
He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke, Even He who teaches man knowledge?”
He “rehearses” it in his mind… (verse 11)
Psalm 94:11 “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.”
…before going back into conversation with his Father (verses 12-13.)
Psalm 94:12-13 “Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O LORD, And whom You teach out of Your law;
That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity, Until a pit is dug for the wicked.”
Then he reassures his own heart (verses 14-17)
Psalm 94:14-17 “For the LORD will not abandon His people, Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
For judgment will again be righteous, And all the upright in heart will follow it.
Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?”
(I tell ya) If the LORD had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.
And then returns to “prayer” for the next 4 verses (18-20)
Psalm 94:18-20 “If I should say, ‘My foot has slipped,’ Your lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.
Can a throne of destruction be allied with You, One which devises mischief by decree?”
Verses 22-23 become an “affirmation of his faith” as he again “talks to himself”, reinforcing his strength and belief in God and His power.
Psalm 94:21-23 “They band themselves together against the life of the righteous And condemn the innocent to death.
But the LORD has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge.
He has brought back their wickedness upon them, and will destroy them in their evil; The LORD our God will destroy them.”
When you are in “prayer conversation” with God, there is an “ebb and flow” to the prayer, and I wonder… in the times that you are “talking to yourself” is that God’s Holy Spirit speaking to you?
You know… I think it just might be!
Father, we pray for the discipline, to take the time to have a “conversation” with You. I believe Lord, that You desire to communicate with us, but You can’t (won’t) do that if the conversation is all one-sided; if we just “throw words” at You…
May we, instead, “listen” Lord – even as (from our perspective) our minds drift from the prayer, to the situation, back to the prayer, and then to “talking to ourselves”.
May we listen for Your words in all of that as (perhaps from Your viewpoint) You “hear our words, then show us the ‘current reality’, then hear us again, and give us encouragement…”
May we learn how to converse with You, our Father.
And Lord, we pray too, for those who don’t really “know” You; those who know all about You; all about Your Word and all about Your Son, but who just don’t have the relationship to be able to cry “Abba, Father…” We lift them Lord, and pray that in Your mercy and grace, You’ll call them unto Yourself.
We lift this prayer this morning, in Jesus’ Holy and Perfect Name – Amen.