Destroy the Wicked – Reflection on Psalm 58

Psalm 58:1-11

Psalm 58

Watching the World Burn

People gravitate toward the Psalms because of their complete and utter realness. I was taught that if I didn’t have anything nice to say…then don’t say anything. The psalmist doesn’t follow such motherly advice. Instead, the psalmist lets his fury fly.

There’s a scene in The Dark Night when Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) is trying to understand the Joker’s motivation. Alfred (played by Michael Cane) shares a story about trying to negotiate with tribal leaders in Burma with precious stones. However, a bandit kept stealing the stones. When they went looking for the bandit and the stones, they discovered the bandit had been throwing the stones away.

Wayne asks, “Why steal them?”
Continue reading “Destroy the Wicked – Reflection on Psalm 58”

Psalm 37: How to Future-Proof Your Life

The Right Thing

“So, what’s my reward?” he asked expectantly. “Well,” the reply came, “your reward is knowing you did the right thing.”

Have you ever had someone say that to you? Have you ever said that to someone else? Perhaps your kids?

While the sentiment sounds good, deep down hearing, “doing the right thing is its own reward” isn’t what we want. We would rather get something tangible for doing the right thing, but often we just get a nice saying to cherish.

The Hardest Thing

The Fray sang a song with the lyrics, “The hardest thing and the right thing are the same” which rings true. Doing the right thing can be hard. Sometimes doing the right thing means sacrifice of our comfort, resources, or energy.

wrong-way-429723_1920On the other hand, the wrong thing can be easy. Parking in a handicapped parking space so we don’t have to walk as far to the store is easy, but if we are not handicapped, parking in that space is wrong. There are some who do anyway and, as long as they don’t get caught, could care less that they are doing the wrong thing.

Perhaps we have thought at one time or another, “What’s the point? I do the right thing and life still doesn’t work out. Where’s my reward for doing good? I guess that’s what they say…‘No good deed goes unpunished…’” When we gaze at those who care nothing for doing good or God, and it seems like they have all they could ever want…or at least all we could ever want, we wonder why we even try to do the right thing.

Now and Later

The Psalmist argues we shouldn’t be concerned, or envious about the prosperity, success, or advantages of wrongdoers because they will soon be forgotten. They only concern themselves with what they can get now. Whether it is cheating, disobeying laws, or living selfish lives, doing the wrong thing may work out now, but the Psalmist sets his gaze on the future.

The Psalmist encourages us to not be short-sighted. Yes, wrongdoers may have advantages now, but he writes, “they will soon fade like grass…” He knows that in the future, they will regret their actions.

Following

The Psalm reminds us that those who trust in the Lord find security. Those who delight in the lord receive the desires of their heart. Since fulfillment of our desires may come at a later date, he encourages us to wait on the Lord in patience and to not fret over those who are prosperous. Ultimately, the godly are blessed, their children are blessings, and they will not be forgotten by God.

Often doing the right thing requires us to denying ourselves. Jesus talked about “listening” to his words which means obeying his words. Those who “listen” to Jesus’ words are those who put his words into practice. Jesus said that to follow him meant we would have to deny ourselves (Mark 8:34), which is a hard practice.

Jesus said, those who “listen” build their house on rock rather than the sinking sand of those who do not. Choosing to follow Jesus means difficulty and sacrifice in the present. We will have to move out of our comfort zone and do things we may not want to do. We may need to sacrifice our comfort, our resources, our time, and our energy, to fully embrace Jesus and his will.

Future-Proof Your Life

Talk of sacrifice and moving out of our comfort zone doesn’t sound very appealing, especially when we see those who throw caution to the wind and do whatever they want, even when their actions come at the expense of others. The Psalmist counsels us not to envy the prosperity of wrongdoers, or focus on our short-term losses and difficulties. No. Our faith reminds us that regardless of our current situation, our lives are future-proofed through the love of God revealed in Jesus.

The Psalmist knows that following God and doing the right thing, in the end, brings joy unspeakable, so he says with full confidence:

“It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich. For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,but the Lord takes care of the godly.” (Psalm 37:16-17)

Our reward is more than “knowing we did the right thing.” Our reward is God himself revealed through Jesus, his love, presence, peace, security, joy, and blessings poured into our lives. You can future-proof your life as you embrace Jesus, looking to his provision rather than the prosperity of wrongdoing!

Morning Reflection 2/28/12 – Psalm 12

Plea for Help in Evil Times

To the leader: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.

1Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;

the faithful have disappeared from humankind.

2They utter lies to each other;

with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

 

3May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts,

4those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail; our lips are our own—who is our master?”

 

5“Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan,

I will now rise up,” says the Lord;

“I will place them in the safety for which they long.”

6The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure,

silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

 

7You, O Lord, will protect us;

you will guard us from this generation forever.

8On every side the wicked prowl,

as vileness is exalted among humankind.

via Psalm 12:1 (NRSV) – Biblia.com.

Maybe you can identify with David. He looked around at the way things were and felt like no one was faithful. All he could see were those who were bent toward evil. He saw those that  used words to flatter and who had “a double heart” when they spoke.  Continue reading “Morning Reflection 2/28/12 – Psalm 12”

Morning Reflection 2/27/12 – Psalm 11

Song of Trust in God

To the leader. Of David.

1 In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to the mountains;

2 for look, the wicked bend the bow,

they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.

3 If the foundations are destroyed,

what can the righteous do?”

4 The Lord is in his holy temple;

the Lord’s throne is in heaven.

His eyes behold, his gaze examines humankind.

5 The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates the lover of violence.

6 On the wicked he will rain coals of fire and sulfur; a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.

7 For the Lord is righteous;

he loves righteous deeds;

the upright shall behold his face.

via Psalm 11 (NRSV) – Biblia.com.

Sometimes storms come our way. The Psalms are a wonderful place to go for prayer when it seems like the world is crushing us. Many of the Psalms begin from a time or place of trouble. David knew what it was like to be pursued. He knew what it was like to be under attack.

Since David’s confidence was in God he didn’t worry even when his enemies were surrounding him. He didn’t understand why some would tell him to run away when his refuge was in God. He knew that God was still in control. He knew that God loved righteous deeds and was with the upright. Because of his confidence in God, he was able to face difficult situations calmly and in faith. Continue reading “Morning Reflection 2/27/12 – Psalm 11”