“What’s the point of following God and doing what’s right, when I’m struggling and so many people I see doing their own thing are prospering?”
So many times we feel that way. We look at all the people doing evil around us, and they seem to be enjoying life, and we compare their lives to our own struggles and we wonder what’s the point of following God.
But in this psalm, David gives us words of encouragement as he looks back upon his own life. He writes,
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong (1).
For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. (2)
And he admonishes us,
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. (7-9)
In other words, don’t get angry when you see the wicked around you prospering. Don’t fret about it. Because when you do, you start to become bitter, and it leads you down a slippery slope in which you are tempted to give up your faith and to start living your own way. But while evil men will eventually be cut off, you will find blessing if you continue to hope in the Lord.
And so David tells us,
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. (3)
Put another way, “Don’t throw away your faith when you see the wicked prospering. Continue doing what is good, and trust that God will reward you.”
He then says,
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (4)
David’s saying here, “Make God your chief desire. Seek him above all things. And if you do, he’ll give you all your heart desires.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll give you a new Ferrari if you seek God. But as you delight yourself in God, some of the things that you once thought were so important will not seem so important anymore. And the things that are truly important, God will bless you with. And the gifts he gives will not leave you empty as the things of this world will. In short, if you make God your chief desire, that’s when you’ll find true satisfaction in life.
And so David says,
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. (5-6)
You may feel unrewarded, but know that if you commit your way to him, he will not forget. And the day will come when all will see what you have done and praise God.
When you’re feeling jealous of the wicked because of their prosperity, remember:
Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous. (16-17)
David then encourages us,
If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.
Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off. (23-28)
How about you? Are you frustrated by the evil you see? Then remember these words:
Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil, but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace. But all sinners will be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be cut off. (34-38)
I like that last part. For those who follow God, there is a future. And it is good. But there is no future for the wicked. So let us not fret over the evil we see. Rather, let us be still, be patient, delight ourselves in God, and put our trust in him each day. And as we do, we’ll find a life that’s truly worth living.