(A repost from January 2013)
I’m still working through Psalm 37. My memory work has been slow going, and I’ve tried to catch up over the long weekend. Yesterday I began a list of what the psalmist says about the wicked and the righteous. So far, the column for the wicked is longer.
I know professing believers who would be very uncomfortable with this list because it dares to label some as wicked and others as righteous. It implies judgment. It identifies character and behaviors that are condemned. And, yes, it can be uncomfortable to think about God laughing at the wicked (verse 13: But the LORD laughs at the wicked for he sees that his day is coming.) But our discomfort is precisely why we need to be in God’s Word, seeing things as He sees them, being corrected in our thinking. The psalmist’s words are Scripture. If we’re not willing to submit our hearts to it, we’re putting ourselves in a very dangerous place of thinking we’re more righteous than God, holier than He is.
And it’s instructive to remember that if we’re on the “righteous” side of that list, it’s only because of God’s grace in applying Christ’s obedience, death, and resurrection to us. It’s not because we were just naturally good. We were one of those laughed at by God until, in His mysterious mercy, He rescued us. So there’s no cause for boasting in ourselves here or feeling smug about which side of the list we’re on.
So, back to the list: The big theme here is how fleeting the prosperity of the wicked is. Isn’t that hard to see on a daily basis? And again, that’s why we need the reminders from Scripture! Through His Word, He re-orients us to truth: The wicked will look like they’re doing great — but it’s only temporary. It may look and feel permanent to us, but it’s not. Wait patiently on God, and you will end up with abundant peace FOREVER. Look past the circumstances of today. Look at God’s promises in Scripture, and wait on Him to work them out. Trust in His timing. He ALWAYS does what He promises. ALWAYS.
As I was thumbing through a favorite book yesterday (Ed Welch’s When People Are Big and God Is Small), I providentially came across an underlined passage that articulates all of this so much better than I can: (emphasis mine)
When confronted with enemies, we should go directly to the Psalms if we are not sure how to feel or what to say. In them, we are given exactly what we need. What the Psalms do is lean against some of our natural instincts. When we are inclined to take matters into our own hands, the Psalms teach us to trust God. When we would insulate ourselves from pain, they teach us to trust God. Instead of vowing that we will never again move close to another person, we learn to trust God. Instead of extinguishing hope, the Psalms teach us to trust God and, as a result, be filled with jubilant expectations for the coming of the kingdom. You could say that the Psalms improve our quality of life.