8–14 February 2015.
Psalm 37:23–40 (click to read).
Probably one of the most confusing and troubling things for people of faith is when we see others using wickedness and injustice, rejecting God and his ways, and then still seeming to succeed in life! What’s going on? Why do the wicked do so well? And why do we bother trying to be so faithful and good? Shouldn’t we just give up on God and his ways?
This is a question that is asked so many times throughout the Bible, and it is also the theme of Psalm 37. Very sensibly, the writer doesn’t try to give an answer to why the wicked prosper, because some things are beyond our ability to really understand. Instead, the writer encourages us simply to hold on to faith and hold on to God.
Verse 34 is important here: “Hope in the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you”. In this world, we know that people so often rely on their own strength to succeed: they bully others, they proudly create conflict, and they push their way through. But the really astounding thing is that they do these wicked things and then convince us that this is what success means! They rob the poor, they hurt the weak, they oppress others, they bully others, and then say that their lives of aggression, hostility, and greed are successful lives. And we believe them!
But God’s way sends us in a different direction. God’s way is not to lift up ourselves in pride over others, or to use conflict and aggression to bully others for our own so-called “success”. God’s way is one of humility and meekness. We don’t lift ourselves up, instead we put our hope in God and let him lift us up, let him exalt us. And a life that is lifted up by God, a life that is successful in God’s eyes has the only type of success that really counts.
In verses 35 and 36, the writer tells us that the wicked may flourish like a native tree, but in the end it all comes to nothing. It is not real success. So in meekness hang onto God, in humility follow the Way of Jesus Christ, and then let Christ lift you up to real success.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis