HOW YOU ARE TO RESPOND TO EVIL MEN (PSALM 37)

Psalms 37:40 says, “The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.”

We all need delivered at times. We all face wicked people who would like to kill us. We all face dangerous threats in this evil, fallen world. Therefore, we are all tempted to worry, lose hope, follow our own path, and act rashly in anger. By the foolishness of others, we are tempted to be fools. We all face trouble. Psalms 37:39 says, “The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.” By the short term success of the wicked, we can lose faith and be tempted to respond sinfully.

God’s word has some advice to help us abstain from foolish wickedness and walk in an upright path of blessings. Psalm 37 gives us five steps to “take refuge” in the Lord. As you face your challenges and fears, take refuge in the Lord.

Step #1 Do not fret because of evil men

Why shouldn’t we worry when the evil man seems to be succeeding in his evil ways? Because it won’t last. God says in Psalms 37:2, “For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.” I have noticed that along the bank of the creek near my home, where the farmers don’t mow, the grass and weeds grow up quickly in the spring and grow to a very tall height. But in the fall and winter this grass quickly fades. What was the height of a small tree is now quickly gone.

As quickly as the flowers of the field bloom, they fade. So it is with the seeming success of the wicked. Psalms 37:10 says, “A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.” Where is Hitler? Where is Stalin? So it will be with Osama Bin Laden.

Psalms 37:35 says, “I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in it’s native soil, but he soon passed away and was no more; thought I looked for him, he could not be found.” Whether a ruthless killer like Osama, a unjust judge, a crooked politician, a corrupt police officer, an abusive boss or a neighborhood bully, don’t fret. They won’t last!

Step #2 Trust in the Lord and do good

Psalms 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When your desires are bound up in the Lord, and you trust in His word and do good, His dreams become your dreams and the vision of the future you share with God becomes reality because your will has matured to be the same as His will. Then he can bless you give you your desires.

A woman is not happy in her marriage, so she is tempted to divorce her husband. She thinks that only when she sins and divorces her husband can she be happy. That is a lie. She is afraid, if she stays with her husband as God commands that she will be unhappy. Who will she trust? Will she trust in the Lord and do good by obeying His command not to divorce her husband? Or will she turn to sin and divorce her husband, chasing after what she thinks will make her happy? When faced with a trial or temptation, the question is always, will we trust in the Lord and do good, or trust our lusts and do evil.

Psalms 37:27 says, “Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.” We prosper by doing good not evil. We have to trust in God’s Word, even when we don’t see how things will work out in our favor. In fact, it would be better to have an unhappy marriage and be right with God, than to have a peaceful marriage and living sinfully away from God. It is better to be poor and do the right thing, than sin and become rich. Never forsake eternal heavenly blessings for temporary earthly possessions. Psalms 37:16-17 says, “Better the little that the righteous have then the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.”

When you don’t trust in God and do good, but trust in lust and do evil, your happiness cannot last. It fades quickly and never really satisfies. Wickedness brings a blessing that withers. Righteousness brings an unfading joy. Psalms 37:18-20: “The days of the blameless are known to the LORD, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. But the wicked will perish: The Lord’s enemies will be like the beauty of the fields, they will vanish— vanish like smoke.” The righteous are blessed even during hard times. The wicked suddenly vanish. Trust in God.

Step #3 Commit your way to the Lord

Psalms 37:30-31 says, “The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.” God’s direction must become our direction, and then we will not slip and fall. We must stop going our way. We must stop trying to force our will. We must commit to the Lord the direction of our lives and allow him to guide us through the desert of life by the light of His Word. It is the word of God in our hearts that protects our path.

Psalms 37:6 says, “He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” When you follow the light of God’s Word and His will illuminates your path, your life will shine in this dark world. When you have committed your way to the Lord’s way, you will stand in stark contrast to the wicked. Psalms 37:21 says, “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.” The wicked take, the righteous give. Psalms 37:32 “The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives.” And Psalms 37:37 says, “Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace.” The wicked plot murder, the righteous seek peace. There is a major difference in the way of the wicked and righteous. We must commit our way to the Lord, not our own lusts.

Step #4 Be still before the Lord

Psalms 37:7 says, “…Wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” It seems some times like the wicked will succeed. It seems the wicked are winning sometimes. But we need to view things from an eternal perspective. When we do, we will be patient before God and wait for him to work things out. In contrast, when we have a limited view of things and focus only on the present state of affairs, we can lose faith and run ahead of God.

We need to trust in the ultimate justice that God will bring about and in the conclusion he has foretold. When we trust in that, we can be still before Him and wait for Him to take vengeance in His time rather than run ahead of God and try to take vengeance ourselves or fix the problem with our own sinful actions. Psalms 37:9 “For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.” When we operate on hope, we wait patiently for what God has promised. That is what hope is. It is the confident expectation of God’s promises to come to pass, which causes us to wait patiently for them.

Psalms 37:34 says, “Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.” Our patiently waiting on the Lord is essential to receiving his blessing. We must be still and wait on HIs promises. We often want to fix all our problems ourselves. We do something to make what we want come to pass, but sometimes what God wants us to do is just be still and trust him while waiting on his timing.

Step #5 Refrain from Anger and turn from wrath

Those who are wicked are full of rage and anger. Psalms 37:12 says, “The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them.” Notice that the wicked are those who gnash their teeth in anger. The righteous will let go of their anger. And why are we tempted to get angry? Isn’t it because we are up set with the outcome. If we were truly trusting in God to give us blessings and justice, we wouldn’t be angry at people who are wicked, we would feel sorry for them.

Psalms 37:8 says, “…turn from wrath; do not fret— it leads only to evil.” Notice that anger and fretting (worry) are related. It’s because you are worried that the wicked will win and get away with their schemes that you are angry. If you trust in God to work all things out, you won’t struggle with anger. Holding on to wrath instead of letting go of anger is related to a lack of trust in God’s justice. It’s the person who feels that they are losing who gets angry. But we must wait on him and not worry ourselves into a rage.

Five steps to take refuge in God during times of trouble:

Step #1 Do not fret because of evil men

Step #2 Trust in the Lord and do good

Step #3 Commit your way to the Lord

Step #4 Be still before the Lord

Step #5 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath

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