Every story teller knows, the story is everything AND to have a story, you must have conflict, a struggle between the brave hero and the dastardly villain over the lovely damsel.*
During January I have been reflecting on life and faith through the eyes of the Psalter, the hymn book of Scripture. So far most of the Psalms we have looked at are attributed to the poetic genius of David, son of Jesse of Bethlehem, the second king of Israel. You don’t read far before discovering David has people grouped into two camps: the righteous, aka the godly, and the wicked, aka the ungodly, the evil ones. Interestingly enough, though perhaps a simplistic view, the bulk of Scripture agrees with his assessment. Light vs. dark. Right vs. wrong. Good vs. bad. God vs. Satan. By the very nature of the elements mentioned, the struggle grips the cosmos. God is the victor, the victory won before the foundation of the world – a worthy subject of another discussion.
David writes a lot about his struggle with evil. In Psalm 37, he gives a blueprint for that struggle. I would encourage a cataloguing of what he has to say about the wicked compared to what he says about the righteous.
Psalm 37: 1 – 10
David arms us for the struggle
Don’t be envious
Don’t be anxious
Trust in the Lord
Delight in the Lord
Commit your way to the Lord
Be still before the Lord
Wait patiently for Him
Refrain from anger
Turn from wrath
Don’t fret. David knows about fretting. O Lord, how many are my foes. (Psalm 3:1) Give me relief from my stress (Psalm 4:1) How long, will men turn my glory into shame? (Psalm 4:2) They will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces… (Psalm 7:2) Three times in these ten verses David, says don’t fret. The final admonition is followed by …it leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:8) Ruminating over our troubles enlarges them in our mind. So the master fretter says; Don’t fret, don’t be envious, don’t be anxious.
Okay, ixnay** with the fretting. No more melodramatic damsel in distress. “O my, whatever shall I do?” Whatever shall I do? I will Trust in the Lord. I will do good. I will delight in the Lord. I will commit my way to the Lord. I will be still before the Lord. I will wait patiently for Him. I will refrain from anger. I will turn from wrath. Each of these imperatives begs closer examination, but for now it is a good to do list.
What benefit is derived from this activity of the righteous? He will dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. She will receive the desires of her heart. Your righteousness will shine like the dawn and the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. The meek/those who hope in the lord will inherit the land. They will enjoy great peace.
God promises to guard the lives of his faithful ones and deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Psalm 97:10, 11
In the words of the recently sung carol:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
(4th stanza of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day)***