The righteous and the wicked

Morning Reading for October 14 – Psalm 37:21-40

  21 The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; 22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be cut off. 23 If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; 24 though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. 25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. 26 They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed. 27 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. 28 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; 29 the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. 30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. 31 The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip. 32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives; 33 but the LORD will not leave them in their power or let them be condemned when brought to trial. 34 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. 35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil, 36 but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found. 37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace. 38 But all sinners will be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be cut off. 39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. 40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

There are many who find passages like this, which compare “the righteous” and “the wicked”, to be so lacking in grace. Surely God will make a way for the wicked to come to righteousness. He has! Though not all would accept it. God’s way of grace is in Christ Jesus. He is THE RIGHTEOUS ONE but, in grace, He took the wickedness of the world upon Himself so that those who come to Him in faith to offload their sin on Him would be made righteous.

Read the passage again. See the ‘righteousness’ which is of Jesus … He gives generously, He inherits the land, the Lord delights in Him, the Lord upholds Him with His hand, etc. Now see the wickedness from which He releases us when we come to Him … Borrowing without repaying (a most terrible way of stealing from someone who trusted you), Restlessness (not dwelling in the land “for ever” nor inheriting it, but being cut off from it), lying in wait for the righteous to ambush them – sneakiness and thuggery (Note however that the righteous “wait for the Lord” – verse 34). The wicked passes away and has no future because he has no refuge from his sin. 

I have underlined two places because they contrast the situation of the righteous and the wicked. The wicked might well flourish but he soon passes away and cannot be found – verse 35. In a sense the “world”, meaning the place away from God rather than the planet Earth, is his native soil – he flourishes there but has no future anywhere. On the other hand, the righteous, despite the fact that he is on planet Earth, is never forsaken and even his children are provided for – he does have a fixed and certain future. Why would you NOT want to find the righteousness which comes from faith in Christ? Baffles me …

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