Sound familiar? As much as has changed this past generation, those situations have not changed. Those situations are true right now, and those situations were true three thousand years ago! Those situations will continue to be true in the future!
Have you not found those situations to be true in your experience and observations? Is it not true that those situations are the basis for some of your largest faith crises? Hopefully, the awareness that the basis for faith crises always have existed will provide you with a fresh perspective. If you struggle to be righteous, these struggles are not newnot in any way!
Can you hear the palmists agony as he begins the psalm? Things were not well! Lord, why are You distancing Yourself from us believers? When troubled times remind us of our great need for Your closeness, why are You so difficult to locate? The wicked are overflowing with self-confidence as they bear down on defenseless us. They make our existence miserable, and they are never the victims of their own plots. We suffer and they laugh! It is not fair!
Then the psalmist began a long, graphic description of the wicked people who caused them so much trouble. The wicked bragged because if they wanted it, they had it. They were so proud of themselves and their accomplishments that they laughed at God in the conviction that He did not even exist.
Those who were wicked were always prosperous. Gods judgments were so above them that they never saw them. They ridiculed those who opposed them. They were so self-confident they feared nothingnot even the future!
They could not speak without cursing. They were constantly deceiving others. All they wanted to do was to oppress people. They were constantly plotting how to cause others heartache. When they were around peoples living places, they lurked about and hid in order to find and destroy the innocent. They were constantly on the lookout for the defenseless; they were as dangerous as a lion hiding in the brushes ready to pounce on the unsuspecting. They constantly set traps for the weak and vulnerable.
Their victims were no match for those who attacked them! Their view of God was so idolatrous! They thought God was so involved with His own interests and affairs that He had neither time to see nor interest in what they did to others.
Next, the psalmist pled with God to take action against the wicked oppressors. Notice what the wicked are doing to us! Do not forget our struggle! Be offended by how they view you! They count on the fact that You will not get involved!
I know You are involved. I know You do see what the wicked do. I know you will act. You are the only protection we have, our only defense. Please let the wicked experience the misery they have caused those they oppressed. Make them know what it is like to suffer! Oppose them until wickedness no longer exists!
I know who You areYou are the King, and You always will be the King! You decide the destiny of nations (the wicked are no match for you)! Never let the oppressed righteous doubt that You hear us! Give us strength to endure! Be the champion of the defenseless! End the reign of terror of the wicked oppressors!
Begin by noting the dilemma that caused the oppressed who are righteous to struggle in all ages: How can people who are righteous in their devotion to God be oppressed by wicked people who ignore God? Is the answer to be found in a weakness in God? Is the answer to be found in the oppressed having an incorrect definition of righteous devotion to God? Is the answer found in neither? This unanswered struggle is not a new problem!
Continue by noting that there are numerous factors involved in this complex struggle.
1. What is your view of God? What is the source of your concepts of God?
2. Is more happening in this struggle than just the conflict between good and evil in this physical world? (Consider Pauls statement in Ephesians 6:10-12.)
3. Is the source (are the sources) of the consequences which produce the physical struggle obvious and easily recognized? (Is it possible for the righteous to endure physical suffering as a result of consequences to acts that the suffering righteous do not even know about?)
4. Will devotion to the values of righteousness produce struggle as those devoted to the values of wickedness oppose the values of righteousness?
5. For what reason are you a Christian? (If your answer is some form of avoiding pain and struggle in this physical world, you need to examine your motives. Consider Hebrews 11:13-16.)
6. Did Jesus perfectly do the will of God? Did he suffer? Was He executed? Did God fail in Jesus? Do you see a contrast between those who seek to avoid struggle turning (in their quest) to a Savior who endured physical suffering?
Consider this suggestion: The prayer of the righteous person is not focused in escaping physical struggle, but it is centered in the request for the strength to endure physical suffering. In the physical world, the righteous will be subjected to the assaults of the wicked.
For Thought and Discussion
1. Discuss the struggle, in all ages, to grasp why the righteous suffer because of the acts of the wicked.
2. What was the psalmists description of the wicked who were causing the struggle?
3. Discuss what the psalmist knew. How does that intensify the struggle of the righteous?
4. What were the six questions given to illustrate that this is a complex issue?
5. Discuss the prayer suggestion made in this lesson.
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 5
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