7. 'The Wicked' and Their Works Psalm 37:12-22

Text:  “The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.”
                                                                                                               Psalm 37:14.

Good morning, Christian suffering at the hands of ‘the wicked’.  Lift up your head, beloved in Christ, Psalm 37 brings you ‘good comfort in bad times’.

‘The wicked’, as Biblically defined, in this increasingly corrupt and apostate 21st end times’ Century, are a fierce, ruthless, and ever-present enemy to every serving Christian soul.  Everywhere we find them hindering, opposing, and treating with open ridicule ‘the faith once delivered unto the saints’.  Our Bible beliefs are scorned and treated with sceptical contempt – as ‘the wicked’ world of unbelief seeks to deny Christian values and beliefs, and put Bible-believing Christianity to open shame.

However, in the midst of such sore and hard oppressions and oppositions – God’s Word brings you and I ‘good comfort in bad times’.  Praise God, read on, Christian friend.

‘The Wicked’:  Biblically speaking, ‘the wicked’ are clearly defined by the works that they consistently do.  As their deeds, so is their hearts.  They are very ‘wicked’ indeed.

Verse 12. “The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The continual verb here used in the King James Version of our Bible, ‘plotteth’, denotes the fact that those defined as ‘wicked’ plot, and continue to plot against the ‘just’. 

The Just:  The ‘just’ are defined as those whom have been justified by faith in Christ, and in His full Atonement Sacrifice at Calvary’s Cross, and of course, by His bodily resurrection on the third day, according to the Gospels.  Therefore, ‘the wicked’ are wicked indeed in God’s Holy eyes, when they are clearly seen to be plotting evil and harm against those whom the Lord Jesus Christ has justified by the shedding of His sinless Blood.  God-inspired Scriptures always clearly define the real facts of Eternal life and Eternal death.

However, verse 13 of Psalm 37 immediately brings us ‘good comfort in bad times’.

Verse 13.  “The Lord shall laugh at him.  Lest the flesh should still murmur and complain, demanding why God should only laugh at the wicked, and not rather take vengeance upon them, the reason is added, that He sees the day of their destruction at hand. “For He seeth that his day is coming.”  (John Calvin 1509-1564)

Verse 13.  “For He seeth that his day is coming.  The evil man does not see how close his destruction is upon his heels; he boasts of crushing others when the foot of justice is already uplifted to trample him as the mire of the streets.  Sinners in the hand of an angry God, and yet plotting against His children!  Poor souls, thus to run upon the point of Jehovah’s spear.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 180)

The wicked:  “His dismal day, his death’s day, which will also be his doom’s day.”  (John Trapp 1601-1699)

Verse 14.  “The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation (entire lifestyle).  God the Holy Spirit, the Author of canonical Scripture, leaves absolutely no doubt as to how He defines ‘the wicked’.  In the New Testament we immediately hear the voice of Christ Jesus rehearsing the exact same Divine message: “...By their fruits ye shall know them.”  (Matthew 7:15-23)

Verse 15.  “Their (the wicked) sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.  The Lord Jesus’ Divine teaching is again Scripturally corroborated by this verse from Psalm 37.  “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  This Divine law is seen to be clearly at work when we look at verses 14 and 15 of Psalm 37.  The wicked draw out their swords and bend their bows to slay and maim the justified, and the Lord God returns the actions/motives of their wicked hearts upon their own heads. 

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man/woman soweth, that shall he/she also reap.”  (Galatians 6:7)  Anti-Christian enemies beware!

Verses 16 & 17.  “Never let a Christian murmur because he hath but little, but rather let him be still a blessing of that God that hath blessed his little, and that will bless his little to him.”  (Thomas Brooks 1608-1680)

Verse 18.  “The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever.”  “...My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:19)

Verse 19.  “They (the just) shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.”  More ‘good comfort in bad times’ for those of us who have been saved by God’s free and Sovereign grace, through the Atonement Sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  The Lord God looks after His own people - forever!

Verse 20.  “But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord...shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.”  The lot of those that persist on in their rejection of Salvation in Christ Jesus, is forever sealed in God’s Eternal plan.

Verse 22.  “For such as be blessed of Him (the Lord) shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of Him shall be cut off.” The warning has been given – take heed.

Thought: For true Christians redeemed by Christ’s Blood – it is all ‘good news’!  We may well face ‘bad times’, but in the end we are assured of ‘good comfort’.

6. "How Long, Lord?" "Yet a little while." Psalm 37:10-11

Text: “How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?  How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” 
Psalm 13:2.

          “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.” 
Psalm 37:10.

Good morning, long-suffering Christian!  In Psalm 37 the focus of our current study of God’s infallible and inspired Word, the genuine regenerate yet long-suffering Christian is instructed and encouraged over and over again – that the Lord shall indeed grant us ‘good comfort in bad times’.

“Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people, saith your God.  Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”            (Isaiah 40:1-2)

In these two Old Testament verses, Jerusalem clearly denotes a type of the church: all those who have been elected to Salvation by God the Father in Eternity; granted repentance from sin and faith to believe in Christ Jesus in time; washed in the Blood of the Lamb; saved by God’s grace through the full Atonement Sacrifice of Christ at the Cross; and kept by the power of God ever after. 

All such regenerate souls are, therefore, recipients of the precious promise of comfort these verses contain; for our sins are forever taken away.  Praise God for such saving grace!

Knowing and fully believing the above fact of Christian faith, assures each one of us of God’s  ‘good comfort in bad times’.

Our deadly enemies – the world, the flesh, and the Devil – all ruthlessly conspire together to cause true, Bible-believing Christians sore troubles, hindrances, illnesses, injuries, and depression of spirit.  However, the good news is that, they are only permitted to cause us these burdens and problems ‘...for a little while...’ before the Lord calls a halt and sends us His refreshing and His peace.

One day real soon, all of these deadly enemies – spiritual and physical – shall forever cease to cause true Christian believers trouble.

Verse 10.  “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be.  O wherefore, tried believer, dost thou envy one who in a little while will lie lower than the dust? 

"Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.  His house shall be empty, his chair of office vacant, his estate without an owner; he shall be utterly blotted out, perhaps cut off by his own debauchery, or brought to a deathbed of penury by his own extravagance.  Gone like a passing cloud – forgotten as a dream – where are his boastings and hectorings, and where the pomp which made poor mortals think the sinner blest?”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 179)

A beneficial exercise, perhaps, would be for believers to look back at a time when someone, or some set of circumstances, a seemingly ‘impossible’ situation was causing us great anxiety, depression of spirit; and mental consternation.  Now, think where exactly that person, circumstance, ‘impossible situation’ is today!  See?  It was merely permitted to cause us, the meek, trouble ‘for a little while...’

Verse 11.  “The meek shall inherit the earth.  Not the hot, stirring spirits who bustle for the world shall have it, but the meek, who are thrust up and down from corner to corner, and hardly suffered to remain anywhere quietly in it.  This earth, which they seem most deprived of, they only shall have and enjoy.”  (John Pennington 1656)

Our troubled souls constantly cry out to the Lord God, “How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” – this is done during ‘bad times’ of suffering, often prolonged suffering, but the Lord’s answer to our problems remains faithfully the same, “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.”

Now, that is what I call ‘good comfort in bad times’, dear Christian friend.  Praise God!  In the words of the song, ‘And the darkest hour is just before dawn...’

Another problem I found when reading and seeking to apply God’s Word and Holy Scripture to the circumstances being endured by me at any given time, is the fact that, this wonderful comfort from God is promised to ‘the meek’ – and I have big trouble defining myself as ‘meek’!  However, let us look at this concept in greater depth:

Dictionary Definition: Meek – (adjective) having a mild and gentle temper; submissive; Meekness – quality of being meek. (The Chambers Dictionary, page 999)

Those that know me personally are well aware that I am not very ‘meek’ in the above, dictionary defined, sense – in fact, it is well known that, ‘I do not suffer fools gladly.’, to say the least.  Being too ‘quick’ has been a personal lifetime’s failing.  (Sorry.  Pray for me?  I would dearly love to be a much more gentle and quiet-spirited man.)

However, let’s look at the Biblical Moses: he slew an Egyptian and buried his body in the sand (Exodus 2:11-15); went in to Pharaoh’s palace and told him to let the Hebrews go free (Exodus 5:1); delivered a death-threat to the mighty Pharaoh (Exodus 28-29); commanded a great internecine slaughter among the Hebrews (Exodus 32:26-28); ruthlessly put down rebellions among the Hebrews in the wilderness, etc. etc. 

Yet the Scriptures describe Moses: “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)  His meekness was in his true and faithful obedience to the will of the Living Lord God Jehovah.  Glory to His grace!

Thought: Take comfort, weary Christian – we shall soon be given God’s peace.

5. Forsake Evil Anger Psalm 37:8-9

Text: “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.  For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”
                                                                                                                 Psalm 37:8-9.
Good morning, short-fuse Christian!  If you are in any manner afflicted as your unworthy author is today, you are grossly afflicted with the blight of a very short fuse as to temperament.  Having a short temper, being too quick to respond to aggravations, reacting too swiftly to stimuli from other people’s negative remarks, insults, or physical actions – is a character trait that every genuine Christian thus afflicted must combat day and daily in the power of the Spirit of God. 

Oh the times when I, over the past 38 years of Christ’s Salvation, have totally regretted the shortness of my fuse in reaction to negativity from others!  If you also are afflicted with a quick temper – read on and be comforted – the Lord God has good news and encouragement for both you and me.

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the Devil.”  (Ephesians 4:26-27)

“Be ye angry.”  Taken on its own, this first part of the verse from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians can be read in at least two ways – Christian, you have got to be angry!  You and I MUST be angry at sin; at our three main adversaries – the world; the flesh; and the Devil.  If we are not angry at such anti-Christian concepts, we are certainly not genuine Spirit-quickened Christians!  If we can live quite happily and unaffected by sin and the causes of sin in our daily lives, then we can never be fit to dwell in a Heaven that is Holy.  This seems very clear to me, is it as clear to you, Reader?

Then there is the daily and continual aggravations of sin and it’s manifestations that take place all around us daily: IF God the Holy Spirit lives within us, as Bible-believing Christians must believe He does, then it follows that the new ‘born again’ nature within us must detest most of what our eyes are beholding in the world all around us, in an increasingly apostate ‘church’ and an increasingly anti-Christian environment.  Fact.  The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Godhead, will NEVER get to like, or tolerate sin and ungodliness!  Thus, true Christians must get angry every day if God Himself lives within us.  This is clearly the Divine logic of our lives.

“And sin not...”  This second part of the verse from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers is a much harder command to understand and obey. The true Christian believer cannot trade in the unsaved, unregenerate world’s currency - we cannot revile when we are reviled; we cannot physically abuse when we are physically abused; we cannot seek revenge when we are slighted, and slandered, and wronged by the reprobate populations who live cheek to jowl with us in society.  We dare not, in our hearts and minds, even ‘...let the sun go down upon our wrath...’, nor, ‘...give place to the Devil...’!  Obedience for true believers is a very real and daily BATTLE.

Verse 8.  “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath.  To be fully assured of ‘good comfort in bad times’, therefore, personal anger and personal wrath must not only be felt towards all the sin and evil that we encounter day and daily, but outward anger and personal wrath cannot be shown in our actions! 

To live with such an obvious and paradoxical mind-set would be totally impossible for us to do – if we did not have God the Holy Spirit living within us to help us; to Spiritually restrain us from angry and vengeful retaliatory actions.  Praise God, His love helps to constrain us!

“For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.  For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live (Spiritually live in Christ) should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.”  (2 Corinthians 5:13-15)

Therefore, we are called by God to ‘..be angry at sin...’; yet not to sin in retaliation; to leave all righteous and just retribution against sinners to the only truly righteous and just God, in Christ Jesus, Who will in His own time and manner punish our enemies.

Verse 8.  “Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.  Evil may be done by fretting at the prosperity of wicked men, or by imitating them, doing as they do, in hope of being prosperous as they are.”  (John Gill 1697-1771)

“We are cautioned not to envy the wicked, either worldly prosperity or the success of their plots against the righteous, and the reasons here given respect these two temptations severally:— Good people have no reason to envy the worldly prosperity of wicked people, nor to grieve or be uneasy at it, because the prosperity of the wicked will soon be at an end.  Evil-doers shall be cut off by some sudden stroke of divine justice in the midst of their prosperity; what they have got by sin will not only flow away from them (Job 20:28), but they shall be carried away with it.  See the end of these men (Psalm 73:17), how dear their ill-gotten gain will cost them, and you will be far from envying them or from being willing to espouse their lot, for better, for worse.  Their ruin is sure, and it is very near”  (Matthew Henry, 1662-1714, Commentary on the Psalms)

Verse 9.  But those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.  Passion, according to Bunyan’s parable, has his good things first, and they are soon over; Patience has his good things last, and they last forever.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 179)

Thought:  True, Bible-believing Christians, no matter how utterly fallible we are, shall have ‘good comfort in bad times’.  Knowing the Sovereignty of our Lord God, we are empowered of Him to wait with fortitude the joy of our Eternal inheritance in Christ, ‘...all things..’ working together for our good. 

4. Resting In Christ Psalm 37:7

Text:  Rest in the Lord, and wait (like waiting on tables, serving!) patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of him/her who prospereth in his/her way, because of the man/woman who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” 
Psalm 37: 7.

Good morning, patiently waiting Christian!  In this increasingly apostate and hostile 21st Century, you and I who are seeking to live our lives as fully committed, Spiritually quickened, Bible-believing Christians – are beset all around with those led of their father, the Devil, to hinder, harm, and spoil us and bring to nought our faithful Christian witness of the power of Almighty Lord God in Christ.  Fact. 

If you are NOT experiencing such constant oppositions from the world, your own flesh, and the Devil – please immediately examine yourself to see if you really are a truly committed, born again, Christian!  No Christian soldier in this great Spiritual war is excused duty!

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove (test) your own selves.  Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates (rejected silver, rejected by God).  But I trust that ye shall know that ye are not reprobates (failures).”     (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  (Ephesians 6:11-12)

If we are not born again and, by God’s grace through God-given faith in Christ and His onetime Sacrifice at Calvary’s Cross, then the Lord Jesus teaches us that we are indeed the children of the Devil, Satan, that old vile serpent of evil, and proud sin.

“Jesus said unto them (the unbelieving of the day), If God were your father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He (God the Father) sent Me.  Why do you not understand My speech?  Even because ye cannot hear (with their hearts) My word.  Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do...”  (John 8:42-44)

The Devil and his children are at full and total war against Christ and His children.  Thus, when we Christians get weary of the continual Spiritual battle raging against us and our Master, Jesus Christ – we must learn to Spiritually rest in Him, renew our Spiritual strength, and continue on steadfastly in the great war against Satan and sin.

“And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.  And He said unto them,  Come ye yourselves apart into a desert (quiet and private) place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.  And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.”  (Mark 6:30-32)

To be a ‘patiently waiting Christian’, strong in faith and steadfast in trials and temptations, one must be found continually studying/reading God’s inspired Word, and not only reading our written Bible, but meditating also upon what we are being taught by the Spirit of God therein.  It is better to quietly mediate on one verse of Holy Scripture and clearly understand what we have read, than superficially reading three chapters of Scripture, and perceiving little of what we have quickly read.

Here’s what Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) wrote on the subject of Bible mediation:

Meditate, practice, pray: You must meditate and dwell upon what you read; otherwise your pains and mine will be lost. The more any man is in the contemplation of truth, the more deep and firm impression is made upon his heart by truth. Heavenly meditation brings out the sweetness that is in divine truths. Not those who get most but those who keep most, are richest. So not those who hear most, or read most, but those who meditate most, are most edified and enriched.

“You must also practice and live out what you read. To read much and practice nothing - is to hunt much and catch nothing.  Ah!  What cause have most to sigh, that they have heard so much, and read so much and yet done so little!

“You must also pray over what you read. Many read much, and pray little, and therefore get little by all they read. Galen writes of a fish called Uranoscopos (Starfish), that has but one eye, which looks continually up to heaven. When a Christian has one eye upon his book--the other should be looking up to heaven for a blessing upon what he reads!”
(Thomas Brooks, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ")

As a writer C.H. Spurgeon (1834 –1892) said of him, “Brooks scatters stars with both hands, with an eagle eye of faith as well as the eagle eye of imagination.”

Thus, Brooks the Seventeenth Century Puritan, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Nineteenth Century Neo-Puritan – both godly men of renown in Christ Jesus – were made wise to the Spiritual benefit of mediating on the Word of God.  By doing so, they were both, in their own particular time in history, enabled of the Lord to be ‘patiently waiting Christians. They drew Spiritual strength and faith from their Bibles; meditating deeply on what they read; practicing Christ’s way to live; and in turn, waiting with expectancy the return of our Lord and Saviour – Jesus the risen Christ. 

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”  (2 Timothy 2:2)

Thought:  Happy is that man who possesses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it, but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice!”  (J.C. Ryle, 1816-1900, in Practical Religion, page 97)