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Psalm 37 contains some of the most precious promises in the Word of God. But those promises coexist with straight talk about the existence of evildoers. These words written 3000 years ago perfectly describe life in the 21st century.
How should we bring together the blunt talk and the promises of God? Four considerations will help us.
1. Evildoers will be with us until the end of time.
Nowhere in Psalm 37 does David promise the immediate removal of those who hate the Lord. Evildoers will be found in every generation and in every part of the world. Now it is certain that they will be judged, and that judgment (as noted yesterday) may be in this life. Death itself interrupts their evildoing. But the final judgment is yet to come.
Said another way, if you come to a place where all the bad guys are gone forever, sit back and relax because you’ve just arrived in heaven. Until then we will continually deal with evildoers in one way or another.
2. Evil in the world cannot cancel the promises of God to his children.
This seems to me to be a huge part of Psalm 37. In a world where the bad guys often win, we are still called to commit our way to the Lord (v. 5). We can still dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture (v. 3). The meek shall still live in peace (v. 11).
Said another way, we can’t say, “The world is going to hell” and then use that as an excuse not to serve the Lord.
3. When the wicked seem to prosper, we must not fret against the Lord.
Whenever I hear someone bemoaning how bad these times are, I remember the comment of Richard John Neuhaus, “The times may be bad, but they are the only times we are given. And despair is a mortal sin.” He is absolutely right. Despair means that we have given up, that we no longer believe in God and his power to change things.
4. We should pray for grace to wait on the Lord.
Note the imperatives of Psalm 37:3-5. “Trust” (v. 3), “Delight” (v. 4), “Commit” (v. 5). They are followed by the command to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (v. 7). Skip down to verse 34 and you find, “Wait for the Lord and keep his way.”
Psalm 37 ends with a reminder that our God is a stronghold in the time of trouble (v. 39) who delivers his children from the wicked (v. 40). Eventually God will put Bad Guys Inc out of business once and for all.
So take heart, brothers and sisters. The Lord will have the last word, the bad guys will vanish, and those who trust in him will be glad they did.