Psalm 34:15-16 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; 16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth.
What a wonderful promise verse 15 is to all Christians. To know the Lord is watching us and hears us when we cry out to Him is so comforting and encouraging. The problem is in verse 16 that the same is not true for those who do not accept Him as their Lord in Savior.
Usually I like the New Living Translation a lot. It puts many things into words that are easier for the common reader to understand in todays words. Personally I struggle a little with it’s interpretation of righteous in this passage. We read, “The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right.” I feel like to someone reading the Bible it can be a little misleading. So your telling me if I do right the Lord will watch over me and hear me when I call out to Him. The problem is that many people who read that don’t know what “right” really is. Our world has twisted right and wrong around so much that up seems like down and down seems like up.
One must really spend some time in the Word of God to know what is right. We also can’t mislead people into thinking if they do “right” or do good they can be saved. I believe David is saying here that he watches over those who are justified (saved.) The word in the original text means ‘just ones,’ ‘righteous ones,’ ‘justified ones.’ We can not be justified or righteous by our own accounts. Scripture is very clear on this point in Romans 3:20 when it says, ‘Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.’ Doing right is not good enough. Trying to keep the law/do right will never be enough. Just a few verses later we see what it really takes in Romans 3:22 ‘This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.’ So we are made righteous when we through faith believe (trust completely) in Christ. When we turn our life over to Him and are saved.
Then the Lord watches over us and hears us when we call out to Him. The picture I have of this takes me back several years when I worked at a swimming pool as a lifeguard. It was the perfect job, I didn’t have to be there until 12:00p.m. which meant I could sleep in. One part of our guard rotation was to watch the “kiddie pool,” or as it was referred to sometime the pee pool because you knew that age of kids were peeing in it all the time. Although I am sure the same could be said for the full size pool too, come on you know you have done it at least once right! The kiddie pool was separated into two parts. One was from 1 to 2 feet deep and the other part from 2-3.5 feet deep. Mothers would sit around the sides of it keeping a watchful eye on the kids. We probably didn’t really need a lifeguard there because most of the moms were like eagles watching for a mouse in a field. They were focused in and ready to pounce at a moments notice. You would be amazed how much of a conversation they could carry on while stepping out into the pool and grabbing their sinking kid by the arm without interrupting a sentence. They kept their eyes closely on their kid and knew their voice, or should I say scream, from any other kids. That is the picture I have of Christ. He is busy but he always sees us, he always hears us and he is always there when we need Him.
What is interesting is we see a bit of a parallel between verse 15 and verse 16. We know something is up when David says “but.” That is a small word but oh so powerful. One day I hope to do a “but study.” That sounds really bad for a pastor to say I know BUT I think it would be really interesting to look at how many times but appears in scripture and the two sides of what is being discussed when it is used. Here we see the righteous and redeemed on one side of it and on the other side we see those who do evil.
The original word in the text for evil means bad, wicked, displeasing. How displeasing it must be for God to know the sacrifice His son made for mankind, the pain and torture he went through both physically and spiritually when he took the weight of the worlds sins can not even begin to be comprehended. Yet God sees people reject the gift that is available because of all His son did. God loves each and every one of us. John 3:16 makes it very clear when it says, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,’ He loves you and wants nothing more than you to come into a personal relationship with Him. We see what happens though when people reject God and choose evil. This is very clear when we read John 3:36, ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.’
The last part of verse 16 is one that is hard to read. Those who reject God, those who do not accept the free gift of salvation by grace through faith will not be remembered. David tells us the Lord will blot out there name from the Earth. They will not be remembered. My first teaching job was in Dighton, KS. I loved it and loved the town. My wife thinks the town stinks, because of a near by feedlot. It used to be when I walked in a store in that town almost everyone knew who I was. I couldn’t go anywhere without someone stopping me to talk to me. I loved going to the post office to pick up the mail every day because I never knew who I would run into. I still go back to Dighton every once in a while, 18 years after leaving. I can walk into any store in that town and no one knows who I am. There are still a few people I keep in touch but the town does not remember me.
The same will be for those who reject Christ. When the Lord returns and establishes a new heaven and a new earth the ones who did not accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior will no longer be remembered. There will be no memory of them. Sitting here typing this I think about how sad that is. Some people that we are so close to, family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, if they do not accept the Lord as their Savior they will face eternal separation from God and will no longer be remembered. If that doesn’t light the fire of witnessing or inviting someone to church I don’t know what will.
What side of the “but” are you on? Have you been made righteous by accepting God’s gift of salvation? Is the Lord watching over you and waiting to hear you cry out to Him? Or have you rejected the gift God has made available for you? Have you chosen to follow the evil one straight to hell? It is totally and completely up to you! You decide your eternal destiny.