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Psalm 36: To the choirmaster. Of David, the servant of the Lord.
“Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The world of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.” ~11-4
This is the apostate. He does not necessarily outright deny God’s being; he denies God’s power, he denies God’s justice, he denies God’s nature. Taking counsel only within himself, he takes counsel of evil — and he loves it. This one does not fear God, so he does not heed him or speak truly of him within himself. The result of this is that he does not hate the things that God hates, but rather loves them, taking careful heed and putting much thought and care into doing and planning exactly those things that are against the Lord, his Creator. He places his attention and purposes towards things that are not good, for he does not reject evil — because he fears not God. He is not ignorant of God, nor of justice, nor of righteousness, but he refuses to find out and to hate his sin, for he does not fear God, and so does not love him, nor love his righteousness. Rather, he prefers to believe the outworkings of his own evil heart — in so doing, he is following his longing for godhood and control.
Having known God, the apostate would rather set himself up as his own definer of good and evil, and so sets himself to be lord and judge for himself. He who gets to decide right from wrong — or if there is wrong — or even if there is existence — is lord and judge, is the god, the source of authority and definition of reality. The apostate claims this for himself, in his own life, if not in the lives of all. The more that these people are aware of their hatred for righteousness and of the One whose Word is set against them and their deeds and imaginations, the more that they are active against those who fear the Lord and against their works. And when they set themselves up as teachers among society and as guides to the blind, then they are the most dangerous, for they appeal to the sinful nature of every human heart. And such is the generation in which we live. The apostates are the respected ones, the teachers, the leaders, the experts, and the ones at whose mouth the West seeks wisdom and understanding and knowledge.
“Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” 5-9
Yet, all around him, the apostate, as everyone else and everything else that is, exists in the permeating reality created by the Lord. He cannot escape it. Despite the wickedness of men, the Creator is God, the Lord. He has made his covenants — with the earth and with his people — history shall be accomplished according as he has said it shall come to pass. His steadfast love, his covenantal love towards the works of his hands and of the word that has gone out from his mouth, shall continue, despite all the flailings and cursing of an apostate generation. This steadfast love is broad and encompassing, high as the highest sky; his righteousness is a great and overwhelming as an encircling range of great mountains; his wisdom is a vast and unsearchable as the deepest ocean. He is God. The Creator is God alone, the only One who can stretch out his hand and bring salvation, life, joy, and light to every living creature, man and animal. Yet, he offers peace and accomplishes it in the lives of his creatures only when they acknowledge and worship him, confessing his Son, the risen Lord Jesus Christ, as Lord indeed. For God spoke, and it was so, that he would send One to bear the iniquity of the peoples, to restore them unto God, and to make peace between a repentant apostate and his God. If we refuse this testimony, we are apostate, calling God a liar and choosing to worship a creaturely lie about reality than the Creator himself, who has so abundantly given a witness of the truth in which we dwell.
The apostate, the unbeliever who has refused to acknowledge God, has cut himself off from these things, though he professes to seek them. He seeks to define and create these things for himself, as he sees fit, rather than submitting to God and acknowledging that, of himself, by himself, he is a sinner. Life, peace, happiness, salvation, light, righteousness — these things as defined and sought for by an apostate are different than that which is, for “he does not reject evil.” Yet, for those who submit to the encompassing reality that God has created and set them into, there is feasting and joy in the presence of God, who is the very fountain of life. Only when we come to him to define reality and righteousness, as our great Father and Lord, only then may we see light and it appear light to us. Under the shadow of his protecting care and covenant word of love towards those who fear him, we may take refuge, yes, even in the light itself, shone forth in our hearts and made visible to our eyes and delighting our hearts by the power of the Spirit of Jesus at work within us.
“Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.” 10-12
It is because God is God, unchanging and unchangeable, that we may come to him in prayer. It is because God is God that he hears and answers whatever we ask that is according to his holy will. We pray that our Creator and Savior would be as he ever has been, continuing his mercies upon us, continuing to work justice in the earth, saving us — we who believe in him and hate evil because we love righteousness — from the destructive power of those who would be god over us, for they would rule the world that God has created according to their own hearts instead of according to his word and will. And, we may be assured, the power of the apostate shall not overcome those who fear the Lord, lest they stretch out their hands to do evil. Our God is the one Lord, the Creator — and he is the Lord of history who shall judge the secrets of every man’s heart at the last day by Jesus Christ when evil and transgression and sin and apostasy shall be finally put down forever.