Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
What I offer today is a new series on the verses of Psalm 37 similar to the free booklet on the verses of Psalm 91 (accessible here).
Whereas Psalm 91 seems to help in the immediate experience when, well, the “stuff” hits the fan, Psalm 37 seems more for the days, weeks, months–perhaps even years–leading up to it when, to use another well-known metaphor for tense times, the water on the stove begins to warm, slowly heats up, then before you know it, comes to a boil–and you feel like the frog who didn’t get out of the pan soon enough.
Know what I mean?
This is the period of time when you discern that the “enemy,” say, just for example, a group of political opponents, is gearing up for something big, but you’re not quite sure yet, so you try take it slow and stay as close as you can to our spiritual Commander in Chief, i.e., God’s Holy Spirit, Who leads, guides, and directs us to success here and now on our way to there and forever.
And Who, if we do stay close, shows us the path of clarity and hope that lights the way amid the encroaching darkness.
But, still, it doesn’t tend to help calm nerves, mind, and emotions to hear, yet again, the old truism (wrapped around patience which is a central theme of 37): “the wheels of justice turn slowly but grind exceedingly fine” because what you really want to do is smack somebody or curl up in a corner and drink something, if you were given to smacking people, curling up in corners, and/or drinking…
What prompts this new series?
You pick: global financial stress, pandemic, state and national leaders heady with real and imagined power who keep coming up with more stringent lockdown orders to counter the pandemic that not only defy science but also reason, and another kind of lockdown, this one ideological and fueled by hair-trigger emotions: politics.
And this mess seems cornered, just now, at the edge of the old “new world” bordered, ironically, by an ocean called “Pacific”, in a land known as the last bastion of what real freedoms still exist in a world spiraling bad because it has cut itself nearly completely loose from moral and spiritual underpinnings.
I mean, what else explains how a simple, six-letter word, “choice,” when once the irony is ripped away from the politics of it reveals in reality the wholesale slaughter of the most innocent among us, some of their tiny body parts cleaned up, packed on ice, and bartered for, say, lamborghinis, on the open market?
What else explains how, when the propaganda is parsed, the only lives that really “matter” are not those of any certain color but, rather, the lives of the kommandants of the latest iteration of the “color revolution”?…
There are likely very few people–worldwide–who do not sense, just now, that mankind is on the verge of some kind of “fundamental transformation,” “new world order,” “tipping point,” or choose your own paradigm but something existential with an ominous feel and a bad taste.
So here’s what I’ve got–for you and me as well–for today and the days ahead while we wait as those slow-grinding wheels turn toward justice.
And we pray.
And we act with what prudence we can muster and what wisdom we can glean all the while being as “cunning as serpents” but as “harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16. For commentary on this biblical theme see here.)
Because, basically, God is not at all surprised by any of this turmoil–wherever it began, wherever–whenever and however–it ends.
Unless one chooses to keep one’s head in the sand, the mayhem in the secular portends catastrophe while spiritually it portends either a type of, or precursor to, so-called end times.
But whatever awaits us in our slice of time, geography, and circumstance on good old terra firma, if we turn to God for help, He will.
His Word is a good starting place.
Consider Psalm 37.*
And put your seat belt on.
I will too.
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. (KJV)
Have you ever noticed how those who would steal, kill, and destroy seem to get away with it and for a long time, whether the terrain be physical, mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual, or global (often a combination)?
With no apologies to the modern “prosperity” preachers who seem to concentrate only on God’s love forgetting the other half of the Gospel, His justice, down here there be “troubulation,” to coin a term, if not actual tribulation (both upper and lower case)–always has been, always will be. So the machinations of the trouble-meisters should be of no surprise.
Still, though, it is frustrating to live amid them.
But God encourages us (and them, too, really, if they would but regard Him and open their minds and hearts).
“Just wait,” He might say in modern lingo (prompting both the impetuous and the fearful to hold back the hand, stay out of the corner, and put down the bottle), “I’ve got an ‘escape app’ for that.”
Psalm 37 reinforces this by giving us the all-important and powerful perspectives we need to bolster patience and proceed with His, eternal plan.
It begins at the beginning.
As Bible commentator Matthew Henry puts it, on the first verses:
When we look abroad we see the world full of evil-doers, that flourish and live in ease. So it was seen of old, therefore let us not marvel at the matter. We are tempted to fret at this, to think them the only happy people, and so we are prone to do like them: but this we are warned against. Outward prosperity is fading. When we look forward, with an eye of faith, we shall see no reason to envy the wicked. Their weeping and wailing will be everlasting. The life of religion is a believing trust in the Lord, and diligent care to serve him according to his will. It is not trusting God, but tempting him, if we do not make conscience of our duty to him. A man’s life consists not in abundance, but, Thou shalt have food convenient for thee. This is more than we deserve, and it is enough for one that is going to heaven. To delight in God is as much a privilege as a duty. He has not promised to gratify the appetites of the body, and the humours of the fancy, but the desires of the renewed, sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and serve God. Commit thy way unto the Lord; roll thy way upon the Lord, so the margin reads it. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, the burden of thy care. We must roll it off ourselves, not afflict and perplex ourselves with thoughts about future events, but refer them to God. By prayer spread thy case and all thy cares before the Lord, and trust in him. We must do our duty, and then leave the event with God. The promise is very sweet: He shall bring that to pass, whatever it is, which thou has committed to him…
Allow this encouragement to sink in and stir hope today and in the days ahead.
And watch this space.
*For a related series on ways to keep up our immunities (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) while we wait, I invite you here.