Psalm 94 (Contemporary English Version)
- LORD God, you punish the guilty. Show what you are like and punish them now.
- You judge the earth. Come and help us! Pay back those proud people for what they have done.
- How long will the wicked celebrate and be glad?
- All of those cruel people strut and boast,
- and they crush and wound your chosen nation, LORD.
- They murder widows, foreigners, and orphans.
- Then they say, "The LORD God of Jacob doesn't see or know."
- Can't you fools see? Won't you ever learn?
- God gave us ears and eyes! Can't he hear and see?
- God instructs the nations and gives knowledge to us all. Won't he also correct us?
- The LORD knows how useless our plans really are.
- Our LORD, you bless everyone that you instruct and teach by using your Law.
- You give them rest from their troubles, until a pit can be dug for the wicked.
- You won't turn your back on your chosen nation.
- Justice and fairness will go hand in hand, and all who do right will follow along.
- Who will stand up for me against those cruel people?
- If you had not helped me, LORD, I would soon have gone to the land of silence.
- When I felt my feet slipping, you came with your love and kept me steady.
- And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure.
- But you are opposed to dishonest lawmakers
- who gang up to murder innocent victims.
- You, LORD God, are my fortress, that mighty rock where I am safe.
- You will pay back my enemies, and you will wipe them out for the evil they did.
Psalm 94 is known as "A Psalm of David, for the fourth day of the week." (Albert Barnes) This understanding comes from the Septuagint rather than from the psalm directly. As with so many of the psalms, it is occasioned when the Israelites were under threat of an enemy and so the psalmist appeals to the "God of vengeance," that He will "repay the proud what they deserve." We are anxious for God's judgment when it is aimed at someone else. In this case, Israel was personally experiencing God's discipline due to its own sins. That is why they are threatened by their enemy. We learn this from verses 12-15 where it speaks of God's discipline of His people to teach them. Understanding this gives comfort because it puts the situation in perspective. God was disciplining them for their good. He had not abandoned them or forsaken them.
But God's instrument for Israel's discipline was wicked people who had no righteous purpose in what they were doing. They gloated because they thought they were superior to the mighty Israel. They boasted that "The God of Jacob doesn't pay attention" to the plight of His people. But the psalmist cautioned them. "Can the One who shaped the ear not hear?" And do we see a little humor in verse 11? "The Lord knows man's thoughts; they are meaningless." Why should a man be happy because of the Lord's discipline (verse 12)? Because it indicates He is a child of God. It will teach him and make him better as a result. It will help him stay on a path that leads to God's blessings. But it takes a mature child of God to understand this. Otherwise he only sees the discipline as unfair treatment. Thus when the discipline comes he asks the question, "Why me?" as if he doesn't deserve difficulties. The question we need to ask when difficulty comes is "What?" What do you have for me to learn, Lord?
The psalm concludes with words of encouragement for the children of God. Through a series of questions it makes the point that the Lord stands for His people against the wicked. He supports them when they am slipping. The Lord comforts His people when they am filled with cares, and He is their refuge and rock of protection. And so He is.