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Psalm 37, 73, 49, 112 Scripture Reading: Psalm 49 In a Nutshell: This sermon is an instruction, a warning and a reminder: 1. instruction on how believers should respond to wickedness 2. warning to be on guard during these last days and wait in expectation for the return of Christ 3. reminder of a. the fate of the wicked and the fate of the righteous b. the blessings of those who fear the Lord “HEAR THIS, ALL YOU PEOPLE… ALL THE INHABITANTS OF THE WORLD… LOW AND HIGH, RICH AND POOR TOGETHER…” (PS.49:1-2) No exceptions. Message is for every people in this world – not just for a certain race, but ALL YOU PEOPLE. Are you listening?
We are now living in the last days. Jesus said that in the last days, it will be as in the days of Noah (Matt.24:37-38). What was it like during those days? “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways (Gen.6:11-12). Sounds familiar? Jesus also gave a clear picture of what they were doing then: “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage (Gen. 6:4-6: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”) Matt. 24:38) Another sign of the last days is the sign of Jonah (Matt.16:1-4). What was happening in Jonah’s days? “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2) -How do you respond to the wickedness around us?
Psalms 37, 49 and 73 tell us what our attitude must be towards the increase of wickedness around us, the success and prosperity of the ungodly, and the sufferings of the righteous. Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong (37:1) Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me – those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches? (49:56) My feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (73:3) Three responses we are specifically told not to have regarding the wicked and the proliferation of their ways: DO NOT
1. Fret Do not fret when Do not be overawed 2. Envy men succeed in their when a man grows 3. Fear ways, when they rich, when the carry out their splendor of his wicked schemes house increases… (37:7b) (49:16a) I. FRET (37:1a, 7b) The Hebrew word used is tithchar, from the verb charah (H2734), which literally means to be hot, furious, burn, become angry, be kindled, be incensed, to heat oneself in vexation. Does your blood boil in anger when you see certain types of people (i.e. informal settlers, corrupt politicians, policemen, security guards, proud & arrogant people, those who look down on others)? God says, “DO NOT FRET because of evil men... when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes…” Yes, they may be doing something wrong. Yes, they may be evil and wicked. But weren’t you once a wicked person (Hebrew term used for evil is “raa” meaning to be bad, be evil, to be displeasing, to be wicked. Other terms: ungodly, hostile to God) yourself? Psalm 14:3 says “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Yes, they may be incompetent. Yes, they may not be helping the world to be a better place to live in. They may be prospering in, despite or, or even because of their wicked schemes. But don’t you think God knows that? Don’t you think God doesn’t care? Of course He does! He knows that if they continue in their wickedness, there is a punishment already waiting for them. In fact, the Bible says that “the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming (37:13).” Instead of fretting, God tells us that we must - “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (37:7a)… Refrain from anger and turn away from wrath… (37:8a)” because “it leads only to evil (37:8b).”
o God cares about your health, too. When you start to fret, you can literally feel your heart rate accelerating, your blood pressure going up, you feel like something is boiling inside of you, your breathing gets labored and your chest feels like something heavy is weighing down upon you. That’s toxic emotions! If you continue to entertain these toxic emotions, evil thoughts will start to come to your head. Then these thoughts become words. Then because you spoke out negatively, the people around you will be incited to anger and fretting and backbiting and slander and negative criticism and judgments and so on and so forth. Then you give the devil a foothold in the anger you have built. Toxic emotions lead to toxic thoughts, which lead to toxic systems. You’re not doing yourself any favor fretting over something that God tells you not to fret about. If you will continue to fret, you will only make yourself sick fretting over something that’s a lost cause to begin with! Remember, the world is not going to get any better. Jesus already warned us about that. Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean we’re okay with what these wicked men are doing, because we’re not! We have to hate what God hates - and God hates sin. But at the same time, we must love those whom God loves - and God loves the world: saints and sinners alike! (John 3:16, Rom. 5:8, Luke 19:10) Therefore, we must love the sinner, hate the sin. Remember the story in Luke 19:1-10 (The Story of Zacchaeus)? How did the people react? Compare that with how Jesus reacted to the corrupt ways of Zacchaeus. o (v.7 – the people were murmuring (Gk: diagogguzo ‘indignantly complaining’) or they were fretting over the fact that Jesus was being nice to Zacchaeus.) We have to keep in mind our mission: to be ministers of reconciliation between the lost and Christ. We cannot do that if the very people we are called to show God’s love to irritate us. One of the reasons why we fret about the wickedness of men is that we are seeking for justice. Justice for what they have done, or are still doing. You can’t stand that the wicked are succeeding in their corrupt ways and they are getting away with it. Remember that our God is a just God. Justice will prevail so don’t lose hope. Be still and wait patiently for the Lord because “He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun (37:6)” if you “commit your way to Him and put your trust in Him (37:5).”
II. ENVY (37:1b) The Hebrew word used is qana (H7065) which literally means to envy, to be envious of, to be jealous of, to excite to jealous anger. God tells us not to envy the wicked of their prosperity (37:1b, 35; Ps 49; Ps 73:2-14). If you find yourself saying: • “Buti pa sila…” • “Bakit sila… eh bakit ako….” • “Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence (73:13).” BEWARE!! You just might be on the brink of falling. Don’t let yourself fall into Satan’s deception. His age-old trick, “death wrapped in a pretty package,” is still one of his most successful ways today to trick many believers into leaving God’s ways. When you start envying, you start comparing. And when you start comparing, you start forgetting (73:3). When we lose sight of God, we lose our balance (73:2). God warns us of the fate of the wicked (see table: The Fate of the Wicked). Don’t let the devil trick you into getting off the right track. The end is near. Satan already knows his fate, and he wants to take as many with him as possible. That’s why we need to keep our eyes focused on God! o “The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip (37:31).” o “…till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny (73:17).” Instead of envying, Remember God’s love for you: take a moment to meditate on His love and “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph.3:18-19).” If you are so full of God’s love, you will not have room for envy in your heart, because God’s love is more than enough to satisfy all our deepest longings and desires. God is “able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Eph.3:20).” Count your blessings. “Delight yourself in the Lord And He will give you the desires of your heart (37:4).” “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt.6:33)
III. FEAR If we are not to envy the wicked of their prosperity, we are also further instructed not to be overawed (NIV) when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases (49:16). The KJV used the term “afraid”. The Hebrew term for this is yare (H3372) which literally means “to fear, revere, be afraid, stand in awe of, be awed.” There is only One whom we must fear: “Fear GOD and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or bad (Ecc.12:13-14).” Remember that man “will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. Though while he lived he counted himself blessed – and men praise [him] when [he] prospers – he will join the generation of his fathers who will never see the light of life. A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish (49:17-20). Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” So even if you become the richest person on earth, if you do not know God, you are just like a beast that perish. Your fate will be like those of the wicked (see The Fate of the Wicked). Jesus said it best, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt. 16:26-27).” THE BLESSINGS FOR THE MAN WHO FEARS THE LORD (PSALM 112)
Conclusion: QUESTION: WHO ARE THE WICKED? Did you know that in the Bible, “the wicked” are not only those who are murderers, criminals, thieves, etc. There are people in the church who call themselves Christians, that can be considered wicked. Jesus tells us of two kinds of servants in the last days: a faithful and wise servant, and the other a wicked servant (Matthew 24:45-51). “Any professed believer living in sin who believes that Christ will delay his coming for a few years can be compared to the wicked servant. Such a person will feel no impending threat that the Lord’s return will overtake him or her (FLSB Notes: Matt.24:48).
If you call yourself a Christian but you are living in sin, you are not a true Christian. You are the wicked servant. - (True and False Disciples) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt.7:21-23) - “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserved to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “it is mine to avenge; I will repay (Deut.32:35)” and again, “The Lord will judge his people (Deut.32:36, Ps.135:14).” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31) THERE IS STILL HOPE FOR YOU! “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts… see to it that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God (Heb.3:7-8, 12).” The Ninevites, although they were about to be destroyed because of their wickedness, believed God, repented and turned from their evil ways so that God had compassion on them and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened (Jonah 3:5, 10). It’s now time to make a choice. ---
The Fate of the Wicked: 1. wither and die (like the grass, plants; like the beasts, sheep) – 37:2, 20, 49:12-14, 27 2. cut off (destroy, permit to perish, eliminate) – 37:9, 22, 28b, 38, 73:18-19, 27 3. they will be no more; they will not be found – 37:10, 20, 35-36 (Job 7:10, 20:9) 4. their swords will pierce their own hearts, their bows will be broken – 37:15 (Ps 7:15-16, Matt.26:52, Rev. 13:10) 5. their power (Hebrew: zeroah (H2220), meaning ‘strength’) will be broken – 37:17a 6. they will be ruled over by the upright – Ps. 49:14 7. leave their wealth to others, take nothing with him when he dies – 49:10,17 8. never see the light of life – 49:19 9. completely swept away by terrors – 73:19 10. The Lord shall despise their image – 73:20 “Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.” Ps.73:27 The Fate of the Righteous: 1. the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace (37:11, 22, 29) 2. the Lord will uphold the righteous (37:17; 37:6, 24b) 3. their inheritance will endure forever (37:18, 29) 4. in times of disaster, they will not wither; in days of famine, they will enjoy plenty (37:19) 5. they will give generously (37:21, 26) 6. his steps are firm, though he stumble, he will not fall (37:24) 7. they will not be forsaken (37:25, 28) 8. their children will be blessed (37:26b) 9. though the wicked lie in wait for them and seek their lives, the Lord will not leave them in their power or let them be condemned when brought to trial (37:32-33) 10. they have a future (37:37) 11. their salvation comes from the Lord, He is their stronghold in times of trouble (37:39) 12. because they take refuge in Him, the Lord helps them and delivers them from the wicked and saves them (37:40) 13. their life will be redeemed by God from the grave and they will be surely with God (49:15)