There are times when you wonder about the providence of God. These are times when you look at the wicked - how they strut about on the earth - and how they attack the righteous and seek to destroy them. Asaph had one of these times in Psalm 73. He struggled mightily with the prosperity of the wicked and the difficulties and trials of the godly. Yet in the end, when he considered eternity and the end of the ungodly, David returned to his sanity and found himself worshipping God - and pitying the wicked.
Here we have a warning given to the wicked - or at least the wicked man who thinks he can destroy the godly. He is warned not to lie in wait against the dwelling of the righteous. Here we have someone who is planning to do something destructive. The word used for "lie in wait" is a single Hebrew word that means to ambush, to lurk, or to lie in ambush as a military tactic. In the military context it always has the meaning of also doing this for the purpose of killing another.
I don't want to make you stay awake at night worrying, but there are very sinister forces today that are lying in wait against the righteous. Radical Islam is one of them. For years the 9/11 terrorists were waiting and training for their one day of evil. It was spooky to say the least to learn just how long they were among us - acting like nothing was going on - and all the while they were planning the worst terrorist attack in history against us. It was even scarier to read an article that listed the top 10 ways that Muslim terrorists were planning to attack us. The article was written by someone from the homeland security department. This list blew my mind because the attack that they are planning currently makes the 9/11 attacks look timid in comparison. In addition to the threat from radical Islamic terrorists, there are also threats from the far left. The radical homosexual movement wants to destroy conservative Christianity, making it illegal to hold views that are consistent with Scripture. There are those among the religious and academic elites who think that Christianity should be relegated to the ash heap of ideas - with laws enacted and enforced to make sure this happens. Like I said, this is disturbing to know - that there are those who are plotting and planning our demise.
God warns such people that this is not a wise thing to do. Remember saints, that God considers us the apple of His eye - and warns against those who would seek to harm us. He warns that such things are very unwise and will elicit his judgment. God warns specificially against seeking to destroy the "resting place" of the righteous. It is true that some want to destroy our "physical" dwelling places - but there is also the fact that those who oppose us among academia and the marketplace of ideas - want to destroy the Biblical Christian worldview and the philosophy that goes along with it. They fight us on the front of creation and science - saying that only their view is acceptable and that creation science is no science at all. They fight us on the moral front, saying that our views on morality from a biblical standpoint are outdated and should be cast aside for more modern (read immoral here) standards, which wind up being no standards at all. They fight us in the arena of human value - as they push abortion, euthanasia, and population control. They fight us in the arena of God's purpose as they exalt the earth with their environmentalism - even saying that humans are a blight upon the planet and should be culled back from our current 7 billion to no more than 300 to 500 million people. All these things are attacks on our "dwelling place" and "resting place" in the Lord God and in His Word as the ultimate source of truth.
One could get the to the point of living in fear if he or she did not read the rest of this proverb. The relentless attacks have not been just in this generation. They have existed all throughout history. Whether it has been the emperors like Nero, Diocletian, and Galerius or the attacks of the currently worldly educated like Darwin, Nietzsche, Hitchens, Harris and Freud, Christianity is amazing just for the fact that it is still around and still considered even a marginally valid worldview. But it is far more that that. The Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to transform millions every year - and provide for them a resting place for their faith and their lives.
We should take heart though, because this proverb gives us great hope - even though we are beset on all sides by those who seek to destroy us. God tells the wicked that even though a righteous man falls seven times - he will rise again. We have the peace of knowing that He Who began this good work in us, will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. He will not allow us to be destroyed and decimated. Even in death His martyrs speak - and the blood of the martyrs becomes the seed of His church. We may fall seven times - but He will pick us up and make us to stand because of His grace and work in us.
But this proverb comes also with a warning. The wicked are warned that they will stumble in times of calamity. When difficult times come - when evil befalls because of their wickedness or because of God's judgment in their lives - they will stumble in it. The word for "stumble" here means to stagger, to totter, to be brought down or cast down. The word is used in the Old Testament to describe not just the fall of individuals, but the fall of cities and nations who fall because of the evil and wickedness that they've committed. So we come full circle on this proverb to what I began saying in this article. Asaph almost stumbled when he considered the prosperity of the wicked in Psalm 73. But in the end, he remembered the judgment and the sovereignty of God. He considered their end - and how they were consumed all at once in their wickedness and iniquity. This moved him to two things. First it moved him to worship God, who is truly sovereign over all things. He worshipped God because he knew there was more to this life than - well, just this life here on earth. In light of the fear and terror of God in judgment, he worshipped with trembling as he considered the end of the wicked. Second, he was moved to pity and mercy towards the wicked. Seeing their latter end, he pitied them and grieved over their destruction. Finally, he was thankful for God's grace and love for him.
Here is wisdom . . . God is sovereign, even when it seems that the wicked are being destructive towards His people. We should not stumble over this reality - but rather realize that God is working, even in the moments when it seems like the world is out of control - or even worse - under the control of the wicked. Know this - God is working for His own glory. If He used a moment as horrific as the cross of Christ to redeem the world - believe me when I say that He can also use anything to eventually bring about His will in this life.