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The best place to hide in evil times

Whatever evil is evident in your context or working away behind the scenes, seek refuge next to our good God’s throne.

Photo: [link] Milk-Tea[/link], Unsplash CC0.

This world can be a sinister place.

I was recently on a missions team serving abroad, and we heard testimonies from several local believers. One told of his times in prison – a place ordered more by the structure of the dangerous mafia than by any attempt at protecting human rights from the authorities. 

Another told of his religious family – a home where this eleven-year-old boy was beaten up by his older brother every time he dared to go back to church, and that at the instruction of his parents. 

Another told of his time in the military, where he discovered just how evil a totalitarian communist ideology can be in reality.

Whether it is by crime, religion, or ideology, the evil of this world is evident all around us.  If we scratch the surface of society, we will find all of this lurking today. 

No country is free of crime, and the level of organization often goes way beyond what we can imagine. 

Billions live under the threat of their religion, a threat that uses family members to beat any hint of turning, and ideologies that require everyone to think the same replace God with government and treat people as collateral damage in an ideological march towards utopia. 

Well, they did not die out in 1990 – the same old ideas keep coming back dressed in new garb.

In Psalm 17, we find three cries to God from David’s mouth (see v1, v6, v13).  His cry was essentially: I am innocent, they are attacking me, but I am confident in God (see v1-5, v6-12, v13-15).  

Let’s look at these three sections and see if this Psalm might stir us to cry out similarly.  After all, the same God is still the best refuge from wherever the threat comes!


Introduction (v1-5)

In the first verses of the Psalm, David’s cry is based on asserting his innocence.  We know from many other places that he knew of his guilt.  His cry was not for protection because he deserved it. 

No, his vindication came from God’s presence, not from his own perfection.  Nevertheless, there is a place for recognizing that we may be innocent with respect to a specific threat, and it is right to cry out to God in the face of injustice. 

Whether that be criminal activity, religious persecution, or ideological threats, we can and should cry out to God for his protection.


God protect me from the evil people (v6-12)

The description of the malicious threat is very vivid.  David doesn’t just say they are violent and threatening (v9); he goes on to give four descriptions.  Three descriptions use human body references; the fourth is from the animal kingdom. 

Their heart lacks compassion, their mouth speaks with pride (v10), and their eyes are set on sinister plans (v11).  These verses could describe the mafia bosses running a prison, the religious family members intent on guarding family reputation, or a totalitarian regime marching towards its ideological utopia. 

Whatever way evil dresses up, underneath lurks the same sinister roar – the lion.  David described his chief antagonist as a lion eager to tear.  Peter used the same imagery of Satan in 1 Peter 5:8. 

There is great evil in this world, so we need a great God in whom to find refuge.

In Psalm 17, David described God in the preceding three verses.  He also uses three human body descriptions, followed by one from the animal kingdom.  Notice the description: your ear, right hand, and eye (v6-8). 

As we draw near to our great God on the throne, we find him to be a wonderfully good God.  His ear inclines to hear even the weakest of whimpers.  His loving right hand has all the authority needed to protect us from every evil this world offers.  His eye is on us.

The phrase “apple of your eye” is an English figure of speech, but the original language refers to “the little person of your eye” – that tiny reflection in the pupil that reveals the whole focus of the eye. 

What a gloriously intimate description – an inclined ear, the loving and full authority of the right hand, the attentive and affectionate eye.  Then the animal image?  We are hidden in the shadow of his wings!


Conclusion (v13-15)

David finishes the Psalm with one last call for God to act.  He desires deliverance.  Those who are against him are living for this world.  They want to gain power and wealth, to have something to pass on to the next generation.

In contrast, what matters to David?  His ultimate goal is not just victory but God’s visage (face).  It is not just about getting a response but about enjoying a relationship with God.  It is not about protecting his inheritance but about having intimacy with God.

God’s goodness can be celebrated in each of the three situations mentioned at the start of this article.  The prisoner may have lost the protection of the mafia leader he was close to. Still, he met a church pastor who came into the prison and told him about Jesus. 

Today, he follows Jesus and visits two prisons he once occupied to tell others about Jesus too.

The eleven-year-old boy never saw most of his family follow Jesus as he does.  Still, he pastors a church that reaches out to the marginalized of society. He also enjoys telling others that the brother who beat him up for attending church is a believer and a missionary in a foreign land. 

The soldier serving in a communist military realized after three years just how evil the totalitarian regime was in reality.  But God allowed him to be tasked with listening to foreign radio stations to discover any plans to invade his country. 

Instead, he heard the good news of Jesus broadcast in his language.  Today, he pastors a church and delights in telling others about the goodness of God!

Whatever evil is evident in your context or working away behind the scenes, seek refuge next to our good God’s throne.  When we see how good he is, we will want nothing else!

Peter Mead is mentor at Cor Deo and author of several books. He blogs at Biblical Preaching




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