When the psalmist says, “The heavens proclaim His righteousness and all the people see His glory (Ps 97:4), it is not merely poetic rendering, but ground reality. For “since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature (ie, His righteousness)—have been clearly seen, being understood from what is made so that men are without excuse,” (Rom 2: 20).
Man has simply suppressed this knowledge of God's glory by his wickedness: the denial to acknowledge God as creator and glorify Him. This wickedness in turn has made man's thinking futile and his heart dark (Rom 2:18,21). This is true of every person and all argument against recognising God is rooted in this suppression-by-wickedness.
“Thus let those who love the Lord hate evil,” which is the means by which to be wicked, “for He...delivers them from the hand of the wicked,” (Ps 97:10). Hedoes this by shedding His Light upon us to reveal our dark hearts and futile thinking, so that we may know where we have suppressed knowledge of God and denied Him worship. That is why the psalmist says, “Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous,” (Ps 97:12). For what is righteousness but God's grace-given ability to recognise Him as creator and give Him glory.
Now if the wicked are wicked by suppressing what creation tells them is clearly before their eyes, they would by nature seek to suppress evidence of God in the righteous that do glorify Him.
This then is the root of Christian persecution: the desire to suppress in others what has already been suppressed in them so that the accusation of their suppression would not be before them, condemning them, demanding of them repentance and acknowledgment of God as creator. The axiom is that the more difficult it becomes to keep the righteous quiet, the greater the persecution to keep them quiet will be. For the righteous display before the wicked evidence of what their dark, futile hearts and minds have suppressed.
But we should pray for our persecutors, even as we continue in our glorifying the Lord, as they are but infected to the depths of their nature by Satan's desire to be glorified above God. For when Christ called the Church out of the world as God called Israel out of Egypt, He commanded us to be a 'city on a hill,' 'light in the darkness,' and 'salt of the earth'—evidence that God has been clearly seen.
Dear Lord, open our eyes to understand that persecution is Satan's pride deep in the hearts and minds of people who could be freed by grace if we prayed for them. Amen.