In the Thirties of the Psalms

By Stan Morton | March 11, 2021

How might one muse concerning the character of God during a pandemic?  Our gut level assessment might suggest that God is either unaware of what’s going on or He can’t do anything about it or He is up to something malevolent.  He cannot be omnipresent, omnipotent, or infinite in goodness and this be going on. 

Can we trust God when we are not sure what He’s up to?  If he is allowing things to happen that are destructive and is not doing something to address it, right now, what should we think about Him? 

What we are doing with this exercise is trying to discern His character by His actions.  In fact, that is what we humans must do with each other.  We cannot evaluate each other by what we say or by some resumé we could pass around.  No matter who we are dealing with or what occasions us to evaluate someone, we must judge by the deeds we see.  Even God will one day judge all according to their deeds rather than their intentions (although God knows those, too!).  Thank God for Jesus!  That’s a whole other topic.

BUT with our judgement of God, we must do the opposite.  We are to judge His actions BY His revealed character.  What do the Psalms in the 30’s reveal to us about God?

  • Psalm 33:4-5 – “For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. [5] He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.”  
  • Psalm 36:5-7 – “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. [6] Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. [7] How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
  • Psalm 30:11 – “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness”
  • Psalm 31:7-8 – “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, [8] and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.”
  • Psalm 31:19-20 – “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! [20] In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.”
  • Psalm 34:4-10 – “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. [5] Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. [6] This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. [7] The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. [8] Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! [9] Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! [10] The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.”
  • Psalm 38:1-2, 17-18 – “O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! [2] For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.  For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. [18] I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.”

So, God moves out into His world and does the following: 

  • Psalm 33:10-17 – “The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. [11] The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. [12] Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! [13] The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; [14] from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, [15] he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.” 
  • Psalm 37:12-13 – “The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, [13] but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.” 
  • Psalm 37:18-20 – “The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever; [19] they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance. [20] But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.”

If His love is steadfast and beyond the heavens; if His word and work express uprightness and faithfulness to the clouds; if His judgments are like the great deep; if He sees my afflictions, knows my distresses and provide a refuge or hiding place for me; if He delivers me from all our fears and has His angels encamp around me; if He corrects me when I am wrong no matter what lengths it takes, then I don’t have to conclude that He is unaware of the pandemic, cannot do anything about it and is up to something malevolent.  But wait!  Oh that’s right!  

  • Psalm 38:15 – “But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.”
  • Psalm 37:7-9 – “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! [8] Refrain from anger and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. [9] For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.”
  • Psalm 37:34 – “Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.”
  • Psalm 33:20-22 – “Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. [21] For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. [22] Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”

OK.  Then God knows what is going on, God is doing something about it even if we can’t see it yet or figure it out and He is definitely not up to anything malevolent.  And I got to wait like everyone else until He is done.  More could be said, but this looks like a good place to stop.  Check out the Thirties!