29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
The main message of this verse is that when it comes to the efficacy of prayer, the spiritual and moral state of the praying man matters. Outward religious zeal will not suffice, for God cannot be pleased with a mere observance of religious ceremonies and activities. One’s spiritual and moral nature and conduct are essential for the LORD’s acceptance and blessing of one’s prayers.
The statement, “The LORD is far from the wicked” is certainly not a repudiation of His omnipresence or omniscience. Neither does it in any way suggest that the LORD is afraid of the wicked, and hence He stays far from them. Scripture abundantly proves that God’s presence is everywhere and He will certainly deal with the wicked. Proverbs 21:12 forewarns, “God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.”
The main thrust of the statement is that the LORD is most displeased with the wicked, and hence He will not commune with them nor show His favour when they pray. The “prayers” of the wicked, without sincere repentance and faith in God, will be in vain. The LORD has already said in this chapter that “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD” (v. 8a), and that “The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD” (v. 9a). Proverbs 21:27 cautions, “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?” Proverbs 28:9 reiterates, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (cf. Psalm 66:18).
“But he heareth the prayer of the righteous.” The LORD delights to commune with those who have abandoned their wicked ways and drew nigh unto Him in faith. He will attend to their prayers and show His favour unto them. Earlier in this chapter, it was said that “the prayer of the upright is his delight” (v. 8b), and that “he loveth him that followeth after righteousness” (v. 9b).
The LORD comforts all who seek Him in righteousness, that He will not forsake them. He will hear their prayers and aid them in their need. As Psalm 34:15, 17 assures us, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry…. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.”