94:0Bible students are not sure who wrote Psalm 94 or when. Maybe David wrote it. Maybe the psalmist (person who wrote the psalm) lived just before the exile. The exile was when the army from Babylon took the Jews (people that were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children) away from Judah. They made them live in Babylon. 70 years later, they came home again. Perhaps the psalmist wrote it then.
Psalms 93-99 are ‘royal psalms.’ Royal describes someone who is a king. Bible students call these psalms ‘royal’ because they call God ‘king.’ He is the ruler (or king) of everything! But Psalm 94 is not a royal psalm. It is between two psalms that are royal psalms. Why is it here? Because it tells us that God will destroy kings and rulers that do not obey him. Then everyone will see that God is king!
God, Show that You Are a Great Judge!
94:1The psalm is in 4 parts:
– Verses 1-7: the psalmist asks God to do something about bad leaders.
– Verses 8-11: the psalmist tells the bad rulers this. God does see what you are doing.
– Verses 12-15: the psalmist describes life when rulers are good.
– Verses 16-23: the psalmist tells us what God has done for him.
1 LORD, God, you are a great judge.
So, God, show people that you are a great judge!
94:1In verse 1 the psalmist says, ‘You are a great judge.’ A judge is someone that decides who is good and who is bad. Because God does nothing, the psalmist says, ‘show people that you are a great judge’, verse 1. The Hebrew word for ‘great judge’ really means ‘punish bad people.’ Because God is judge of all the earth, the psalmist says: ‘Give to proud people what they ought to receive’, verse 2. Proud people think that they are great (when often they are not). These proud people do bad things, verses 4-7. They are as a heavy weight on God's people, verse 5. This means that God's people have hurt and pain. The bad people kill widows and murder children, verse 6. Widows are married women, but their husbands are dead. Murder is another word for kill. The worst thing is in verse 7. They say that God is not looking. God will not see what they are doing. So the psalmist says to God ‘Do something!’ (verse 2). He means ‘punish these bad people.’ Punish means ‘hurt them because they have been bad people.’ This is what ‘they ought to receive’, (verse 2).
2 Judge of the earth, do something!
Give to proud people what they ought to get.
3 How long will bad people, LORD,
how long will bad people laugh at good people?
4 The bad people speak many proud words.
All the bad people are always saying that they are great.
5 The bad people are as a heavy weight on your people, LORD.
They are cruel to the people that belong to you.
6 They kill widows and foreign people that live here.
They murder children that have no fathers.
7 They say, ‘The LORD is not looking at us.
The God of Jacob will not see what we are doing.’
94:7In verses 1-7, the psalmist is complaining. Complaining means ‘saying that something is wrong.’ He is complaining about the ‘bad people’, verse 3. Who are these bad people? The bad people before the exile, when the Jews went to Babylon, were foreign leaders. After the exile, the Jewish leaders were the bad people. Because we do not know the date of the psalm, we say that they are all bad leaders, foreign or Jewish. What is the psalmist complaining about? That God is doing nothing about it!
8 Be careful, all you fools among the people!
Fools – learn to do the right thing!
9 Does God that made the ear not hear?
Does he that made the eye not see?
10 Will he that rules the world not punish our bad leaders?
He teaches people what they know.
11 The LORD knows people's thoughts.
Their thoughts are worth nothing.
94:11In verses 8-11, the psalmist speaks to the bad leaders. He tells them that they are fools. This does not mean that they are silly, or cannot think. It means that they are fools to think that God does not see what they are doing. In verses 8-9, the psalmist asks three questions. The answer to them all is ‘yes!’ Yes, God can hear. Yes, God can see. And yes, God will punish bad leaders. The LORD God knows that what these people think is worth nothing. The Hebrew word ‘nothing’ is ‘abel.’ It means ‘air.’ We often translate it ‘foolish’ or ‘silly.’
12 The man that the LORD rules is very happy.
The LORD teaches him God's laws.
13 You, LORD, give him rest from days of trouble,
until someone digs a pit for bad men.
94:13In verse 13, we read about ‘the pit.’ The Jews thought that when you died you went to Sheol. Sheol was a dark place under the ground. In it was a big hole. They called it ‘the pit.’ It was where very bad people went. So, some people translate ‘until someone digs a pit’ as ‘until they die.’ When that happens God promises good things for his people in verses 14 and 15.
14 For the LORD will not leave his people;
he will not forget people that belong to him.
15 Rulers will do what is fair
and people with good in their hearts will do the same.
94:15In verses 12-15, the psalmist talks about good people. They have ‘good in their hearts’, (verse 15). The Jews said that you thought in your heart. So, these people think good things. The LORD rules them, (verse 12). This means that God is their king. Remember, the psalms before and after Psalm 94 are royal psalms. ‘Laws’, in verse 12, is another word for ‘rules.’ But God's laws are special rules. We find them in the Bible. The Hebrew word for ‘law’ is ‘torah.’ They called the first 5 books of the Bible the Torah, also Isaiah, Jeremiah and other prophets. (Prophets were people that spoke God's words. Some prophets wrote books in the Bible.)
16 Who fought for me against the bad people?
Who kept me safe from the people that did wrong things?
17 Unless the LORD had given me help,
I would soon have gone to live in the quiet place of death.
18 When I thought that my feet were nearly falling,
your kind love, LORD, kept me safe.
19 When I was not happy in my mind,
you made me strong and happy again.
20 Can you ever agree with bad rulers?
No! Because their rules make people sad.
21 They join together against good people.
They say that people that have done nothing wrong must die.
22 But the LORD is my strong place.
And my God is a rock where I can hide and be safe.
23 He will punish the bad leaders.
He will destroy them because they are so bad.
The LORD our God will destroy them.
94:23There is a change in verses 16-23. The psalmist is now writing about himself. Some Bible students say that this is a separate psalm. Other students do not agree. It does not matter. God speaks to us through both parts of the psalm. Maybe the psalmist was the king! That would make Psalm 94 a royal psalm also.
The psalmist had trouble. He does not say what it was. Who fought for him and kept him safe, (verse 16)? It was the LORD, (verse 17), so the psalmist did not die. When the psalmist nearly fell, God made him safe, (verse 18). When he was not happy, God made him happy again, (verse 19). A better word for happy here is ‘confident.’ It means that you know everything will be OK. The psalm ends where it began. In verse 2, the psalmist asks God to punish bad leaders. Now he is confident that God will do that, (verse 23).