Technology takes us around the world today to where we can view the detailed sufferings of humankind. Should war and famine, abuses arising from anger or hatred, political unrest and persecution become an immediate threat to us in North America, we ourselves might be overwhelmed by dread.
David wrote that the Lord looks down on the sons of men, from heaven. His vantage point may seem external, but the Bible also tells us that God knows the thoughts and intentions of each heart. This is what He finds: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) How hopeless does that sound? Yet God who created humans, blesses the man/woman who trusts in Him, making him/her as secure as a tree planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:7).
God does not want you or me to feel overwhelmed by dread. He assures us through the Apostle Paul, who wrote: “God did not give us a spirit of timidity [fear], but a spirit of power, of love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). What causes us to dread something? The knowledge that our hearts are not right before God may be a contributing factor. We do have a conscience that informs our psyche, allowing us to be a peace in the midst of turmoil and even suffering, but also condemning us when we are wrong.
Some people think God searches our hearts to punish us for our evil thoughts and desires, but really God is looking for righteousness, those who are seeking fellowship with Himself (Psalm 14:2). When He sees that, God will go to any lengths to ensure such fellowship is vibrant, real through a relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord. We see illustrations of that in the lives of the Centurion and Lydia, recorded for us in the book of Acts.
Certainly God will punish evildoers, those who persecute His people. These folks never seem to learn. They just don’t get it! We see the problem occurring over centuries of time. The tendency of that heart which denies God, is to “do what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25 KJV).The evil is not confined to what they do, but stems from the notion that they are their own god. This is what ought to fill us with overwhelming dread.
In this Psalm David yearns for the establishment of God’s Messianic kingdom (:6-7). When Jesus returns to earth the powers of evil will be overwhelmed by the radiance of His glory! Every knee shall bow (Romans 14:11). What a glorious hope that overwhelms every dreaded thought!
Who is it that searches your heart and mine? (Jeremiah 17:10)
What is God’s attitude towards evil?
How far will God go to provide a way for you and me to escape evil? (1 Corinthians 10:13)
What frees you from a spirit of dread?