Uncertainty dominates the landscape of the postmodern world. Boastful threats from rogue nations, mounting corruption in international institutions, and political rancor on both sides of the aisle dominate the news. Moreover, wanton violence against youth, total incivility both online and in person, and blatant immorality throughout the various layers of society mirror this upheaval of order. Some uneasiness stems from the rapid change that technology has introduced into the economy. However, much comes from the intentional efforts to degrade standards to the point of nonexistence. Indeed, the call of some to ignore international borders and thereby the nature of citizenship serves as a metaphor regarding the general philosophy of the standard-less. Blurring lines has become second nature to those who have invested their souls in calling good evil and evil good. But how should God’s people address an environment such as this? David’s heartfelt expression recorded in Psalm 140 serves as a powerful answer as Christians try to cope with the chaos around them.
David faced many foes during his lifetime—most of them close acquaintances. He understood the dangers of wickedness from experience, having lived through harrowing events much of his early life only to have them return with a vengeance in his later years. Thus, as he wrote Psalm 140, we read not merely inspired encouragement but also the hurting heart of experience. In the midst of chaos, trusting God serves as far more than some instinctive method to hope against all hope when tragedy strikes but as the natural extension of faith that trusts God at all times. The wickedness that confronts mankind daily can provoke fear and dread, but those who know God also know He can deliver them from evil men, from evil plans, and from evil words (Psa. 140:1-3). Violent men take pride in their ability to influence the peaceful to react with violence in kind. Thus, whether by threats or actions, they push against the righteous to provoke unrighteousness in return (Psa. 140:4-5). Therefore, the threat of such a society lies not simply in the evil of others but in the failure of God’s people to control it within themselves. This is why we must train ourselves—even in the most difficult of circumstances—to trust that God will listen, God will protect, and God will deliver (Psa. 140:6-8). We must trust that God will handle wickedness—in His own time and in His own way. This does not mean that He will not employ human means, but it does remind us not to force the issue ourselves. Repeating a Hebrew construction translated as “Let,” David’s words emphasize that evil has a way of leading to its own consequences. But, more than that, it shows the importance of letting God handle the larger issues of wickedness in this world and accepting His justice in the greater scheme of time and eternity rather than allowing ourselves to become trapped by the moment (Psa. 140:9-11). Indeed, as he closes, the simple confidence expressed by David we should adopt as our own. God will do what is right. He will stand up for the oppressed and take care of the needy. He will hold up the righteous and accept them in His presence (Psa. 140:12-13).
Trusting God remains the core defense saints have against a world gone mad. Regardless of the problem, regardless of the foe, leaning on God offers the greatest comfort and greatest strength available in this world of sin. The faithful know this at heart, and yet many have trouble turning that foundational principle of faith into tangible trust. The world will always create challenges for the faithful, but the response we give should always begin with trust. Therefore, while we may not be able to predict the outcome of the events confronting us in this world, we can know the right way to react—trusting in God and doing His will. Our responsibility remains to place ourselves on God’s side through the simple tasks of daily life that lie within our control and hand over to Him the larger issues of this world that are beyond it. In doing so, though living in the midst of chaos, we can still enjoy peace (Phil. 4:7).