Recently I was doing some studying on a topic that led me to Psalm 37:1 which says, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.”
When we read Psalm 37:2 we see the reason why it admonishes us to “fret not” and it is because “they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.”
We could paraphrase these verses to read, Don’t get all worked-up against the wicked because if you are patient you’ll see that the Lord will not only stop them in doing evil but He will destroy them too.
As saints living in these last days, this is our challenge — to not fret about the wicked and to have faith in the Lord to take lasting action against wickedness and for righteousness.
Fretting vs Focusing
When Psalm 37:1-2 says “fret not” because “they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb” it is also saying, If we give all our energy and attention to fighting the wicked we will have none left for focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Satan desires to keep our focus off of Jesus and unto him instead. John 10:10 tells us that he is seeking “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” and if he can get us obsessed with those things, we risk not being benefiting from Jesus’ “life…more abundantly.”
Temptation is Satan’s effort to pull us away to the abundant life to the immediate life. We can even fall prey by having worthy motives. I knew a TV journalist who set out to expose a crack cocaine market, but over time it pulled him in as its victim because it consumed his thinking. Similarly, cyber detectives have a high rate of becoming the very criminal they set out to catch because of the constant exposure to sickening images filling their mind.
We know from Scripture that our mind is the battle field where Satan seeks to separate us from the benefits of focusing on the Lord.
- We know from Isaiah 26:3 that we have peace by keeping our mind upon the Lord.
- We know from Matthew 6:33 that we should pursue the Kingdom of Heaven not earth.
- We know from Matthew 6:34 that we should live one day at a time.
- We know from Romans 12:2 that what we fill our mind with is what will enlarge in our life and control our heart.
- We know from 2 Corinthians 4:18 that we should keep our mind focused on the eternal not the temporal.
- We know from Colossians 3:2 we should set our affections on things of Heaven not Earth.
- We know from Philippians 4:7-8 that if we are going to stay secure in the Lord Jesus we must think upon the things of God not the things of the wicked.
Of the World
When Psalm 37:1-2 says “fret not” because “they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb” it is also saying, Don’t be surprised at the way the wicked behave in the world because they are of the world. We are in the world, but we are to be of the world.
When we know what to expect from the ungodly, we can encounter them as “sheep in the midst of wolves” and “therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). We can not ignore the wickedness but it doesn’t mean that we have to condone it either simply because we encounter them in family, in business, or even in social settings.
As always, the life of Jesus as told in the New Testament is our guide when it comes to being in the world but not of the world. Sometimes we unnecessarily project our beliefs upon those we disagree with but while I am fairly certain Jesus didn’t condone Levi’s stealing money from his fellow Jews through tax collection, I am also fairly certain that Jesus didn’t condone that by going to his house to eat.
Here are some of the character traits and behaviors that Scripture specifically mentions regarding the wicked:
- Psalm 36:1 says the wicked do not fear God.
- Psalm 36:3 says the wicked speak deceit and of sin.
- Psalm 37:12 says the wicked secretly plan how they can destroy the righteous.
- Psalm 37:14 says the wicked wish only death to the poor, needy, and righteous.
- Psalm 37:21 the wicked are untrustworthy and steal money.
- Psalm 55:3 says the wicked are hateful.
- Psalm 58:3 says the wicked speak lies.
- Psalm 71:4 says the wicked are cruel.
- Psalm 73:12 says that the wicked will amass wealth because of ungodly means.
- Romans 1:29-31 says the wicked are “filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.”
- 2 Timothy 3:2-4 says the wicked are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”
Justice From God
When Psalm 37:1-2 say “fret not” because “they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb” it is also saying, Don’t trust in man to bring lasting justice to the righteous because it will only come when the Lord returns.
When I was a new believer in Christ there was a little old lady in the church I attended who use to always remind me of Jeremiah 17:5 and its message of “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.” Her intention was that as a new follower of Jesus I would not trust in man’s interpretation of the Bible but that I would study for myself.
It was an admonishment of wisdom because as I have spent these 40 years since, it has become clear to me that men prefer to parrot other’s opinion rather than to actually do the work of comparing Scripture with Scripture.
The same could be said about trusting in man to bring justice against wickedness that corrupts our society from nearly every angle, including the halls of governance, the educational system, and even in the market square. We ought to do what is in our power to vote, work, and promote causes that uphold Godly principles, but ultimately it will be the return of the Lord that will usher in a lasting justice against the wicked.
Here are some verses that give insight to what Psalm 37:2 says about that Lord judgment against the wicked:
- 2 Thessalonians 2:8 reminds us that Jesus will return and the wicked will be consumed and destroyed “with the brightness of his coming.”
- Hebrews 12:29 reminds us that “our God is a consuming fire.”
- Revelation 21:8 reminds us that the wicked will be part of the second death and will not dwell in the eternal earth made new.
- Isaiah 11:4 reminds us that the Lord will “smite the earth” and “with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”
- Revelation 19:15 reminds us that His return will be with “fierceness and wrath” against the wicked.
- Psalm 50:3 reminds us that “a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.” on that day He returns.
- Psalm 97:3 reminds us that “A fire goeth before him” which will “burneth up his enemies.”
- 2 Peter 3:11-13 reminds us that this earth will one day be made new and only righteousness shall dwell here throughout eternity.
We are all entering into new territory, together, in America 2021 and none of us knows what turns for the worse lie ahead. I hope that Psalm 37:1-2 may be just the guidance we need for the days ahead.
I sometimes imagine that life is measured by scales that weigh our fretting time against our faith time. One side of the scale holding thoughts of fretting about temporal things of this world and the other side holds thoughts of faith in the Savior’s grace, the promises of God, and a longing for the Lord’s appearing.
Thoughts of the temporal world and its increasing wickedness can be heavy and burdensome, so it is my hope, that less fretting will encourage our scales to be lifted high toward the heavens.