(16) Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against the evildoers? (17) If Yahweh (had) not (been) my help, my soul would have quickly settled in (the place of) silence. (18) When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your steadfast love, Yahweh, supported me. (19) When anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul. (20) Can a corrupt throne be allied with you, one that creates misery by its decrees? (21) They band together against the soul of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death, (22) but Yahweh has become my stronghold and my God a rock of refuge. (23) He will bring back their wickedness upon them and annihilate them for their evil. Yahweh, our God, will annihilate them.
This final segment of Psalm 94 is introduced by two questions (vs. 16): “Who will help me against the wicked?” and “Who will take a stand for me against the evildoers?” Both are answered in the remaining verses of the psalm (vss. 17-23). Three times the psalmist uses “soul” (vss. 17, 19, & 21) and twice we find the term “annihilate” (vs. 23). Several synonyms describe those opposed to God: “wicked...evildoers” (vs. 16) and “corrupt throne” (vs. 20).
I. Question: Who will take my part against evildoers? (16)
- Yahweh will support me with his steadfast love. (17-19)
- Yahweh will defend me and destroy the wicked. (20-23)
Knowing that Yahweh will deal justly with the wicked who seek to destroy us gives great comfort to our anxious hearts.
W. H. Auden famously labeled the Twentieth Century as “the age of anxiety.” If that epithet serves as an apt description of those hundred years, it would seem fitting to describe our present century as “the age of increased anxiety.” Psychologist Rollo May declared: “Anxiety is our modern form of the great white plague – the great destroyer of human health and understanding.” The more distant from God people in our day become, the more they will find anxiety pervading their lives.
The only effective antidote that truly counters this malaise is what Paul called “the peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). Seeking and finding God’s peace well describes what the psalmist is doing in Psalm 94 when he asks his questions (vs. 16) and then provides the answers (vss. 17-23). By focusing on God’s love and protection, he effectively neutralizes the anxious thoughts that threaten to overwhelm him by finding consolation in Yahweh as his stronghold, his rock of refuge (vs. 22).
The author of Psalm 42 engages in a similar exercise when he asks himself, “Why are you cast down, my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” After posing that question, he immediately challenges himself to “put your hope in God” (Ps. 42:5). He is applying an important principle that all of us do well to imitate. If our hearts are fully trusting in Yahweh, fearful anxiety can find no place to lodge there.
In 1876 the British poet, Frances Ridley Havergal, penned the following stanza that embodies the truth of Psalm 94:16-23, bringing great comfort to our anxious hearts: “Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace, over all victorious in its bright increase. / Perfect yet it floweth, fuller every day, perfect yet it groweth, deeper all the way. // Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest, finding as he promised, perfect peace and rest.”