Wicked people. Wicked people. Honestly, most of the time as we go through life we don't really ask ourselves if someone we know is wicked or not. Perhaps we should.
I suppose this is a matter of degrees. After all, I'm wicked. You're wicked. Compared to God, everyone is wicked. If we ask God to protect us against a wicked person, shouldn't someone else be asking God to protect them against us and our own wickedness? When we say, "That person is wicked" or "If there's a God, he shouldn't allow that wickedness," we aren't asking rightly. The question of degrees comes in. After all, where is the cut-off line? Should God stop the mass murderer by giving him a heart attack before he strikes yet draw the line at our nephew who sells crack on the street or at the woman who is having her third abortion?
The violent man. Again. This is a matter of degrees. It looks like an entire generation has been reared to be violent and to be nasty and snippy if they think they're being dissed. How do we separate teenage sniping anger from violence? Or is there no difference?
In this Psalm, the psalmist gives us a description of the type of violent person we should avoid -- the type of person we need to be protected by God from.
The person who imagines mischiefs in his/her heart -- A petty person, a person with cruel fantasies, a person who paranoidly (is that a word?) assumes evil of other people and is always in a war against his neighbor.
The person with a cruel tongue that gossips and spreads untruths.
The person who wants to overthrow someone else's life.
The person who is proud who likes catching people in mental, career, neighborhood traps.
The person who speaks evil of other people and who thinks a lot of him/herself.
Lots of folks fall into this category:
From the mean drug dealer who sets out to snare innocent kids to the jealous neighbor to the religious churchgoer who imagines evil of her neighbor and tells one's business under the guise of intercession. And of course the devil! HE is the most violent speaker/accuser/snare-setter of them all.
These are the kinds of people we should ask God to deliver us from. Because even though we avoid them, and we tell our friends, kids, and neighbors to avoid them, we don't know the snares they've laid for us. Only God knows.
Psalm 1401Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man;
2Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war.
3They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips. Selah.
4Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.
5The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah.
6I said unto the LORD, Thou art my God: hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD.
7O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.
8Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah.
9As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.
10Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.
11Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.
12I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.
13Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.