Psalm 125: Do Good
Psalm 125 is about those who have faith in the Lord. For Old Testament believers, like New Testament believers, their trust or faith was in the Lord and no where else. The image in the text is how the Old Testament believer understood union with Christ. The believer whose faith is in God is surrounded by the Lord. He is safe. She is kept. The image is more striking when you consider that this was a pilgrim Psalm. The pilgrims were moving even as they were surrounded. What may have been even further comforting was the idea of the hills. In Psalm 121 the hills were the shadowy hiding places of brigands and robbers but now they are used in a positive way, “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people” (v. 2)
As the pilgrims traveled through the land, they also knew the state of things. They knew that their leadership was corrupt and that God was using the surrounding nations as instruments of judgment. The scepter of their wickedness lay upon the land. This Psalm has a way of ministering to us today. It seems that the scepter of wickedness is upon our land. But God promised his people that it would not do so for long “lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong” (v. 3). God cares for us. However, the practical question needs asking. With what are your hands occupied in these days? Are you tempted to do wrong because you see so much wrong around you?
For example, we are living in a day dominated by lies. What is worse, our political leaders expect that we will simply comply. The point is not that we believe their lies but that we act as if we believe them. The more I have thought about this the more I fear for the young people in our country. What will it do to them to watch adults offer one lie after another as justification for their nonsensical ideas. But God loves his own and so we should pray that this wicked scepter will not remain long.
The Psalm ends with a contrast. “Do good, O Lord, to those who do good” and the crooked ones “the Lord will lead away with evil doers” (v. 4-5). The reminder is simple. The believer, the one surrounded by the good Lord, is to do good. He is not to abandon good for the pragmatics of paganism. He is to do the good that the Lord commands. This is a seasonable word. However, let me remind you that doing good is not just doing the right thing. It’s not grumbling about doing the right thing. That’s the trap for us. We do the good begrudgingly, knowing that it will in some way be thwarted by the evil of the wicked. It will be swallowed in a land where a wicked scepter reigns. And so, we grumble even as we do the good. This should not be (I Cor. 10: 6, 10).
So, brothers and sisters, take heart. Wherever we may happen to live. No matter how wicked the scepter may be. We are surrounded by a sovereign God who loves his people and the wicked scepter will only last as long as he so desires. And I don’t know how long that may be, but what I do know is that he desires good from his people. So, those of you who are in Christ, do good!
Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. He is also Professor of New Testament Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. Jeff is the Senior Editor of Place for Truth (placefortruth.org) an online magazine for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.