3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (Romans 13:3–4, NKJV)
God ordained “governing authorities” (human governments), and He expects “every soul” to respect and yield to such authority (Romans 13:1). Today’s passage explains that God set these authorities in place, to protect the innocent, and to punish evil doers. Lenski comment is worth repeating here: “The world is full of wicked men, and God has placed rulers among them to check and to control this wickedness by means of laws and penalties, all of them being directed, not against good deeds, but against evil deeds” (Commentary on Romans, 789). There is no hesitation in the apostle’s explanation that governing authorities have God’s permission to “execute wrath” on the evil doer. The use of capital punishment is approved, since “the sword” referred to in verse 4 is the actual sword used by the executioner, as he applies the death penalty on criminals. When governments become a terror to good works, God removes them (Daniel 4:25, 34-35; Jeremiah 18:5-11). For our part, let us “do what is good,” and thank God for the protection He provides us by means of governing authorities.
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1–2, NKJV)
The psalmist exhorted Israel to lift her eyes heavenward when faced with hardship and calamity, and with the eyes of faith, see her Helper. The hills and mountains gave only temporary protection from their enemies. The idols, whose worshipers had erected shrines on the hilltops, could not see them or hear them when they cried out for help (1 Kings 18:24-29). The Lord, who made the hills (the heaven and the earth), is the ever-vigilant protector of His people (Psalm 121:3-6). The secular world looks to organizations of men, to lawmakers, and to philosophers in times of trial and trouble. They think these will solve their problems. People of faith keep our eyes fixed upon the Lord, who preserves our souls to the day of eternity. We live for heaven (not this earth); that’s where our treasure is (Matthew 6:19-21). The Lord is our Helper day and night. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. Do not be overwhelmed with discouragement and despair: “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
1 Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men, 2 Who plan evil things in their hearts; They continually gather together for war. 3 They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips. Selah (Psalm 140:1–3, NKJV)
David saw Jehovah as the One who would equip him against his enemies, preserving him in battle against evil, violent people. Those who attacked David in war also waged a propaganda war against him. Their lips were full of poison, directed toward his character and his God (remember the words of Goliath, 1 Sam. 17:26, 42-44). Christians are in a battle against spiritual forces that requires unyielding faith in the strength of the Lord to deliver us unto triumph against the adversaries of righteousness (Eph. 6:10-13). God’s deliverance from our enemies begins by us having the faith to put on His armor and fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Our life in Christ is not a bed of ease; it is the battlefield of faith. Take up the banner of the cross and live in its shadow. Trust and obey the word of the cross. Therein is full assurance that the Lord will deliver you from evil people, and preserve you for His heavenly kingdom (1 Cor. 1:18-21; 2 Tim. 4:17-18). “Selah” – Pause, ponder and profess with gratitude the greatness of our God, who delivers us from every adversary!