God directed his beloved children not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan slithered in and spoke lies. Eve took the forbidden fruit. First, she ate some, then shared it with Adam. Their eyes were opened, and they knew sin—the human drive to worship and pursue knowledge blossomed in the garden. However, knowledge apart from God becomes too great a burden to bear.
In Psalm 36, David paints a portrait of man’s wickedness and God’s perfection.
1 Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. 2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. 3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. 4 He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil. (Psalm 36:1-4 ESV)
Fear of God
The wicked man does not fear God. His perspective is clouded by pride, and he no longer sees his sin. He has become fluent in the language of lies, and his behavior hurts others. He deceived himself. Even his rest time becomes an opportunity to dream of ways to exact revenge or harm others. He accepts and embraces evil as the cost of living in a fallen world.
My Own Understanding
I long to create a comfortable distance from wicked men and women. I like to believe I am nothing like them. However, I can be tempted to seek knowledge apart from God. I am guilty of relying too heavily on my understanding of situations when making important decisions. I believe the lie that proper research and finding the facts will light my way. Turning away from God to solve my own problems can be a subtle drift in the wrong direction. Wickedness is far closer than I like to think. I need the guidance of God’s word, the Holy Spirit, and regular time spent with the Christian community God has called each of us to be a part of. These daily and weekly rhythms provide the grounding I need.
5 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. (Psalm 36:5-6 ESV)
God’s Steadfast Love Displayed
Regularly disconnecting from the wired world of my tech devices allows me to notice how the Lord’s steadfast love is displayed across the skies and up to the heavens daily. The myriad colors of a sunrise or sunset reveal the spectrum of beauty God placed in His creation. Looking at nature, I notice how God’s righteousness is as high and unmovable as a mountain. Meanwhile, like the ocean, His judgment runs deeper than any of us can fathom.
7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. (Psalm 36:7-9 ESV)
How do I take refuge under the shadow of God’s wings?
It requires me to choose to stop pursuing my agenda. I must pause, rest, wait, and watch for the Lord. Even five minutes spent quietly sitting and listening for His voice could allow me to reset my mind and heart.
Feasts of Abundance and Fountains of Life
The feast God offers is His word. The drink He serves is from pure flowing waters of delight.
His fountain of life will refresh my soul, and the light He offers will cast out the darkness that can crowd my mind and heart.
10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! 11 Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. 12 There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise. (Psalm 36:10-12 ESV)
When I take time to know God, I will see His steadfast and unchanging love. Pride may pursue me and cause me to swerve back into self-reliance. The Holy Spirit will tap me gently on the shoulder and help me to see my genuine need for God. Truly, I can do no good thing apart from Him.
Someday, all who choose evil will fall permanently down and not be able to recover. The weight of sin will crush them. God will allow them to have what they have chosen, again and again, a life without Him.
It started in a Garden. There God met with his children and gave them everything in abundance. He gave them limits because He knew what they could not handle. And yet, just like us, they rebelled in arrogance and were crushed by their own choices.
Lord, help me choose to take refuge under the shadow of your wings daily. Please guide me to follow the wisdom of your word and rely on something other than my limited understanding. Open my eyes to see Your steadfast love on display all around me. Help me to hunger and thirst for the food and drink only You can provide. In Jesus’ name, Amen.