“Don’t get upset over evildoers”
Here is a simple word of wisdom, “Don’t get upset over evildoers.” There are numerous reasons this counsel is wise; becoming upset rarely helps the situation, it often becomes a hindrance to what we truly desire and can lead us to a place of weakness rather than strength. Worse, becoming upset may lead to jealousy. Frequently, the climax of jealousy is behavior that is equal to the evildoer. What begins as a disturbed emotion finishes in behavior that is evil.
Fortunately, the Psalms recognize that this is easier said than done. Rather than abandoning us to figure out how to appropriate this counsel into our daily lives, the Psalms offer a pathway. First, trust in the Lord and do what is right. The word here translated as “trust” is found elsewhere in the Old Testament as “careless.” Literally, then, we are directed to, “Be careless in the Lord.” Instead of carrying the burden of care – the care about what evildoers do – we are asked to let care be absent! God is powerfully at work in the world. When evildoers appear to have a favored position in the world they have not escaped God’s notice. Let the care, or burden about the evildoers behavior be God’s.
Second, enjoy the Lord. What is spoken of here is a deep and abiding relationship with God that is similar to a rich, joy-filled relationship with a spouse. Those who set about with ardent purpose to discover that kind of relationship with God have little inclination to fret much about the behavior of evildoers. Yet, the majority of those who confess faith in God remain content with the occasional crumb that falls from the Lord’s Table; the sporadic attendance in worship, a prayer here and there and perhaps reaching for the Bible when our lives are disturbed. As with a spouse, this neglect of a relationship rarely leads to anything that truly satisfies. Let us be ambitious for a deeper relationship with the Lord – one where our experience is marked unmistakably with joy.
Third, commit your way to the Lord. Any purpose, any ambition, any decision that must be made, Psalms invites us to commit it all to the Lord. Not merely when the way becomes difficult and we lose direction. From the beginning of each day we are asked to commit our thoughts, speech and decisions to God. God declares in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, that, “I am the Alpha” – the beginning. God likes to be there in the beginning of all that we do. The promise of the Bible is that with this kind of solidarity with God we receive a peace that passes all understanding. It is a peace that disarms worry and angst about what evildoers may be doing.
Finally, be still before the Lord and wait for him. Having done all this, and with sincere purpose of heart and mind, trusting in the Lord, enjoying the Lord and committing your way to the Lord, the Psalms asks that we now just rest – to simply be still. This may be the most difficult for many of us. Waiting isn’t something that comes easily. Yet, integral to faith is the knowledge that life isn’t something to face alone, apart from God. Just as an effective leader hands off responsibility to others we are asked to refer some of life’s concerns to God. This pathway, found in the first seven verses of this Psalm, is the cure for becoming upset with those who do evil.