Don’t be worried on account of the wicked;
don’t be jealous of those who do wrong.
They will soon disappear like grass that dries up;
they will die like plants that wither.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
live in the land and be safe.
Seek your happiness in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desire.
Give yourself to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will help you;
he will make your righteousness shine like the noonday sun.
Be patient and wait for the Lord to act;
don’t be worried about those who prosper
or those who succeed in their evil plans.
Don’t give in to worry or anger;
it only leads to trouble.
Those who trust in the Lord will possess the land,
but the wicked will be driven out.
Soon the wicked will disappear;
you may look for them, but you won’t find them;
but the humble will possess the land
and enjoy prosperity and peace.
The wicked plot against good people
and glare at them with hate.
But the Lord laughs at wicked people,
because he knows they will soon be destroyed.
The wicked draw their swords and bend their bows
to kill the poor and needy,
to slaughter those who do what is right;
but they will be killed by their own swords,
and their bows will be smashed.
The little that a good person owns
is worth more than the wealth of all the wicked,
because the Lord will take away the strength of the wicked,
but protect those who are good. (Good News Translation)
Today’s Psalm feels as if it could be in the book of Proverbs; it’s chocked full of wisdom sayings. And wisdom is most definitely something you, me, and the entire world needs. Indeed, we have enough fools around us running their mouths with a bunch of gobbledygook that’s nonsensical and meaningless.
We need helpful language and well-ordered words which reflect our ordered creation.
The underlying assumption of all biblical wisdom literature is that our world has been created by God with a material and moral order built into it.
That means that to buck this order is stupid and foolish. Somebody who walks off the roof of their house because they don’t believe in gravity will experience the harsh reality of that belief. Likewise, anyone who walks any old way they want in this world, without regard to the divine force operating within it, is going to experience a broken spirit.
Our human well-being depends on knowing the ordered creation we inhabit. There are social expectations which need to be realized in order to conform and be in sync with the natural (and supernatural!) universal rhythms all around us. Those expectations are framed for us as wisdom sayings.
Our actions and inactions have consequences. It’s our task to gain experiential knowledge as we move about this earth and interact with others. Notice I did not say we need to be perfect. No, instead, we are continually in a mode of improvement – seeking and learning to be better and do better.
And one of the things we all must discover is that our own personal actions and attitudes effects the entire surrounding community.
Biblical wisdom literature communicates how we receive blessing and how we hold onto it. True wisdom is to live in a responsible awareness of both Creator and creation – and then to make appropriate choices which will bless God and others.
So, in our Psalm for today, we have some wise choices to make that put us in the groove of how things are ordered and established:
- Don’t worry about the evil simpletons around you. Why? Because in the Lord’s well-ordered world, the wicked cannot and will not survive; their end is certain, just as sure as death and taxes.
Those who are evil—
they are like straw
blown by the wind.
Sinners won’t have an excuse
on the day of judgment,
and they won’t have a place
with the people of God.
The Lord protects everyone
who follows him,
but the wicked follow a road
that leads to ruin. (Psalm 1:4-6, CEV)
- Trust the Lord. Everything changes. Everyone is fickle. Why trust? Because God, unlike everything and everyone else, is consistent, stable, and always true to character.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track. (Proverbs 3:5-6, MSG)
- Be patient and wait on the Lord. Why? Because God is good, all the time, and has only good plans in mind for you and me. We short circuit what God is doing whenever we fail to have patience.
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. (James 5:7-8, NIV)
The best things in life are internal, not external. One’s inner well-being, peace of mind, emotional awareness, and spiritual health are worth infinitely more than any title, position, wealth, or delusions of control.
A well-ordered life comes from tapping into the divine resources available to us.
Grant us patience, O Lord, to follow the road you have taken. Let our confidence not rest in our own understanding but in your guiding hand; let our desires not be for our own comfort, but for the joy of your kingdom; for your cross is our hope and our joy now and unto the day of eternity. Amen.
– A Prayer of St. Augustine