If Only You Would Slay The Wicked- Psalm 139:19-22

In the preceding verses, as David continues his prayer and meditation here, he has encountered a profound mystery, the mystery of the dual realities of divine sovereignty and human free choice. His pondering of this mystery leads him to the conclusion that there are some things which lie beyond his capacity to understand, that God is God and he is not, and that a finite human being can never fully understand the ways of an infinite God. As he continues on, he wanders directly into the reality of another of these mysteries, perhaps the most difficult mystery with which humans wrestle, one which causes many to deny the reality of God. He asks God, in verse 19, “If only you would slay the wicked”, which he proceeds to tell us consists of those who deliberately seek to do him harm, who malevolently seek to destroy him, those who seek to work evil in his life. As we seek to shed some light on this, we must begin by differentiating evil and tragedy. Tragedy is what we would basically understand as misfortune, things such as cancer or mudslides are tragedies, and they are seen as such because they are not the result of the free choice of any individual, they just happen as part of life. Evil, on the other hand, would be basically understood as malevolence, as the intentional choice of one free agent to inflict harm on another, with “malice aforethought”. So what David deals with here is not tragedy, but evil, for those he speaks of deliberately set out to do him harm, to destroy him. He begins by looking at it from his own perspective, and by seemingly trying to “persuade” God to destroy those who seek to do him harm. He lays out his “reasoning” in verses 19 and 20, for they are “wicked”, “bloodthirsty” men who “speak evil” of God and “blaspheme” His name. What David basically says to God here is this: “God, these men not only harass and seek to destroy me, but they also disobey, disrespect and blaspheme You, why don’t you just do away with them? I am able to discern what they are up to and I detest them, I would wipe them out if it were up to me, why don’t you?” While David puts this on a very personal level, what he is really asking is a very profound philosophical question. Among his axiomatic assumptions is that God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, and also that God is good. God is fully able to eliminate evil if he so chooses, and chooses not to. The mystery is made even greater in David’s eyes because David is one of God’s covenant people, one whom God loves and presumably would desire to keep any and all evil away from. It seems to David that God would, if He allows evil to exist, keep it from ever impacting His chosen people. So how does David reconcile the existence of a good God with the existence of evil? The answer here is that he doesn’t. We find no philosophical treatise explaining this mystery, we find no “defense” of God in the face of the existence of evil. What we find instead is worship (which our next post will examine in verses 23 and 24). David here bows humbly before God in the presence of this most profound of mysteries. He makes no attempt to “explain” the simultaneous existence of a good God and the presence of evil. If God has determined not to do away with evil at this point in time, David is willing to accept that, for he holds to his basic acceptance of the reality that God is God and he is not, and if God has determined to leave this a mystery, David is fine with that. May all who believe in the existence of a good God in spite of the reality of evil in the world adopt the same attitude as David. May we accept the fact that God is God and we are not, and if He has chosen not to eliminate evil at the present time, that He knows what He is doing, and we can continue to trust in Him to care for us in spite of the presence of evil in this world.

No Comments Christian Philosophy  //  Nature of Man

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