Psalm 37:1–4 (NKJV)
1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
This morning David warns us to beware how we relate to the wicked. David’s warning reveals a keen insight into the wiles of the human heart and the way in which the righteous can be subtly ensnared by the lure of vice.
Notice that David’s warning is two-fold. Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. In typical Hebrew parallelism the two sides of David’s statement help to reinforce and explain one another. So note that David warns us lest we fret because of evildoers. To fret is to worry, to fuss, to agonize or be vexed. But fretting can manifest itself for a variety of reasons – so David explains the trajectory of the fretting with his second warning: don’t be envious of the wicked. The type of fretting is an envious fretting – a fretting that secretly or openly casts a longing glance toward the apparent prosperity of the wicked or their indulgence of certain sins.
David’s twofold warning – don’t fret; that is, don’t be envious –reminds us that one of the reasons we often get in a huff and puff toward those who are practicing wickedness is that secretly, in our hearts, we would like to be doing the same thing. We think that the wicked are getting a free pass to do all the fun stuff while we have to be all prudish and stick with the straight and narrow. Starched collars and all that. Secretly, in our hearts, we are still defining the good life according to the world’s measure. We’re saying to ourselves, “My, I wish I could get away with that.”
But David reminds us that if we think this way, we are being deceived and our hearts are not right before the Lord. If we find ourselves fretting and worrying because of evildoers, envious of their supposed liberties, then we haven’t yet reckoned with the Lordship of Christ. God rules and reigns and this means that these folks are going to be destroyed and that their wickedness is as foolish as pouring kerosene on kindling amid a forest fire. Their days are numbered and the folly in which they are engaged is not something we should envy – no more than envying a child who is preparing to stick his hand in the beautiful blue flames on the stovetop.
So what of you? What are you treasuring in your heart? Have you been secretly envying the state of the wicked? Saying to yourself, “My, I wish I could get away with that.” Then consider and take to heart the word of the Lord:
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Reminded that we often envy the wicked rather than pity them for their folly, let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord.