First Off…read Psalm 37.
Our psalm today is a continuation in thought from Psalm 36 (you can find my previous blog on psalm 36 here) as they both speak about those who seek God and those who do not. And a constant “theme” throughout both of these psalms is one on the difference between the “wicked” and the “righteous”.
15 different times we see “wicked” coming up here. And wicked strikes me…because I don’t think we really use that word very much. In fact, unless I’m referring to a “wicked witch” and we’re speaking of The Wizard of Oz or someone dressing up for Halloween AS a “witch”…I simply never use that word! But a “wicked” person, by definition, is someone who KNOWS they are doing wrong, doing evil, being guilty…and still chooses to do it anyway. It’s the knowledge of your evil actions and wanting to do it anyway.
Let’s hold that thought for a second…this “decision” to do things. We’ll come back to it shortly.
This psalms really pushes us to simply trust in God (3). Knowing that God is faithful and that he watches over those who trust in him, who put their trust in him. Who wait for the Lord and keep his way (34), who try to walk by being upright and blameless (37)…and who simply do not worry about the PERCEIVED “prosperity” of those who are wicked.
There are a lot of things we worry about in life…and “fairness” is definitely one of them. And at the beginning of our text today David simply says to not “fret” about them. Three different times (1,7,8) we are told to not be angry, not be enraged or burn with fire against the wicked because God is at work. God doesn’t simply allow those things to happen. And what we need to remember is that these “things” we see where we see the wicked achieving things (all those things we would consider “prosperous”) those are things we worry about NOW and that the wicked are concerned about “now” as well. And while God IS concerned about the now…this text reminds us that it is the future that really is at stake.
But what really strikes me about our text is this word “fret”.
To “fret” simply means to not worry…but it’s actually more than that – it’s more complicated than simply worry because it takes the “worry” of your mind…and then adds the physicalness to it as well. Fretting is a full-bodied experience. But something we need to understand is that we’re actually losing something in our Hebrew translation on this word for the word we get in Hebrew (the original language) is actually “hot with anger”, or almost this “kindled rage”. Think of it as a coal burning inside you and it becomes so painful that the only way to snuff it out is the water of “envy” (that word right there, “envy” should make us all shudder). But as we know envy doesn’t put it out but actually adds fuel to it!
Fretting, to me, almost seems to be the combination of worry, envy, and actually anger.
Let’s now come back to “wicked” and bring it all together…because I think “choice” is a tether between the two.
Just as a “wicked person” CHOOSES to do wicked things (knowingly) – do we not also CHOOSE to allow envy to creep in? Isn’t getting angry a choice? Isn’t worrying a choice we make? Obviously, there are some drastic differences between being wicked and someone fretting…but both really come down to choice. Come down to decisions. Come down to actions.
And something else to consider…how easy is it to go from “fretting”…to sinning?
It’s all about trust. And trust is hard to come by when you perceive inequalities. Trust is hard to have when you see a blatant horrible person “succeeding” in life. Trusting and having patience in God is extremely difficult when we fully understand that our desires are not necessarily His, our “plans” are not His plans, nor does God work things in our time or way. And yet we’re still called to trust him through all of this. But what does it say about our trust when we’re angry with God for not acting in a way we want or for allowing something to happen that goes against every ounce of what we believe? What does it say about our “trust” when we become envious of someone else?
I’m saying this to me as much as I am saying this to you: We need to stop worrying and holding to things of the present and instead hold (and live into) the things to come…the promises we’ve been given.
Dwell IN the future and not ON the present.
David writes to remind those reading this psalm that as children of God we must think and hold to our future…not our present. We must dwell and drink into the blessings of eternity with God where “prosperity” and “wealth” mean absolutely nothing for we go to a place where money has no value, “goods” and “commodities” are free…and all people are considered loved, cared for, and equal. Where love and goodness flow like a stream, joy and happiness are like a spring that never ends, and there simply is no death or crying or despair.
You can get hung up on the evilness and wickedness of people…but it does no good for their destination is just as known to God as yours is. And really – worrying, fretting, getting envious or angry over what is going on in other people’s lives does you no good…because it’s their life…not yours.
And ultimately – we need come back to verse 8 or our text which also SHOULD answer the question I asked earlier:
- Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil.