How To Respond To Evildoers

I’m sure if I asked for a show of hands, everyone of you would put up a hand (or maybe even two!) to the question, “Has someone done something bad to you?” 

The real issue is not if we’ve been the victim of evildoers doing evil things; the real issue is how to respond to evildoers that do evil things. 

In Psalm 52, David tells us that he wrote this prayer after a vile man named Doeg had done atrociously evil things to a whole town of innocent people. Worse yet: these people were simply trying to help David!

David was fleeing for his life from King Saul, forcing him to leave home with just the clothes on his back. He stopped at the village of Nob and asked Ahimelech the priest for food and a weapon. That act, in King Saul’s mind, was worthy of death. None of Saul’s soldiers would carry out his command to execute the priest, but Doeg quickly responded. Doeg not only killed Ahimelech, but he killed the 85 priests with him, and then he proceeded to annihilate everything and everyone left in the village of Nob. Only one man escaped to tell David what happened. 

When David begins this psalm, he uses the words you or your 14 times in just the first five verses. David is addressing Doeg, almost holding up a mirror to his evil deeds. By contrast, the word I is used five times in just the last two verses of this prayer. 

That tells me that we have to work on this problem of evil from two different directions. We need to see evildoers in their evil, and we need to see a godly response to evildoers. As with many Hebrew poems, the most important principle is in the middle—Surely God will bring evildoers down to destruction, but He will protect the righteous (v. 5). 

In the opening words, David asks Doeg, “Why do you boast of evil?” The word for boast in Hebrew is halal—this is usually the word we translate Hallelujah! In other words, Doeg has put his evil on the throne of his life and is saying “Hallelujah!” to it. A downward slide of all sorts of evil words and evil deeds spiral out from this until the climax: Surely God will bring judgment. 

Notice David says “God” (not you) “will” (not might) take care of this. 

Now let’s look at it from a righteous perspective. Working backwards from verse 9 to verse 5, we see whereas Doeg was praising his evil deeds, David is praising God. David recognizes that it’s only in God’s presence that he can be free, and it’s only God that can ultimately balance the scales of justice. 

▶️ My friend, you cannot make things right. Only God can do this. Please, please, take your eyes off the evildoer that did evil things to you, and put your eyes on the Perfect Judge. He alone can balance the scales of justice. ◀️

So here are four lessons for all of us to learn—

  1. When evildoers do evil things to you, talk to God about them; don’t talk to your enemies and don’t even talk to your friends.
  2. Continue to redirect your heart and thoughts to God’s unfailing love, and away from thoughts of retribution—even if you have to do this a hundred times a day.
  3. When evildoers afflict you, look in the mirror of God’s Word to see if there is anything for which you need to repent and then ask forgiveness.
  4. When judgment comes, don’t gloat. John Bradford, when he saw a cartful of men going off to be hanged said, “There goes John Bradford but for the grace of God.”

In this video I reference our series on the Selahs in the book of Psalms. If you missed any of these, please click here to find a list of the other topics we covered.

Rejoicing At The Coming Of The Judge

In Psalm 50, we read the first-of-twelve psalms written by King David’s handpicked worship leader, a man named Asaph. On the day that Asaph first took up his position as worship leader, David gave him a special song, which definitely influenced Asaph’s songwriting.  

Psalm 50 has a pretty easy outline: an introduction in the first six verses, followed by 17 verses of God speaking to His people—speaking to you and me! In between the introduction and God’s speaking is the word selah.

Selah means a time for us to pause and carefully consider. So Asaph is essentially saying, “God is getting ready to speak with us, so we need to selah—pause from what we are doing so that we can pay careful attention to His words!”  

Asaph sets the stage in the first verse, telling us that the Mighty One, God, the Lord speaks. The words that are about to be spoken come from THE I AM—the All-Sufficient One, the Omnipotent, the All-Knowing, All-Powerful Ruler of the Universe. Asaph also reminds us that He is coming as THE Judge.

When you hear that THE All-Powerful, All-Knowing One is THE Judge that has summoned you into His courtroom, it’s quite likely that your heart would skip a beat. Especially when God lists some of the sins you and I are guilty of breaking in verses 16-20. 

It’s also possible that the news that you have to appear before THE Judge could cause you to rejoice. What? How can we rejoice at that?! David taught Asaph this concept in the song he gave him: God’s people should rejoice over God’s judgments. 

You see, in Psalm 50 God says, “I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices, or for all your attempts to follow the rules.” It’s not in the practices of the law that we find salvation.

God doesn’t need our sacrifices, but He wants our hearts. 

In order to win our hearts for Himself, THE Judge did something absolutely mind-blowing—THE I AM became flesh like us. And then He became the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins, paying our penalty Himself when He died on the Cross (see Hebrews 2:14-17; 7:17-27). 

This is why we can rejoice when we hear we have to stand before THE Judge. When you have placed your faith in what Jesus did for you on the Cross, when THE Judge opens His perfect record book to your page He will read this inscription written in the crimson red blood of Jesus: PAID IN FULL!

This is why we can rejoice at the thought of seeing THE Judge face to face!

Join me next Sunday as we wrap up this summer looking at the Selahs in the Psalms. We plan to restart this series next summer, unless the Judge calls us home before then!

Thursdays With Oswald—The Holy Spirit’s Spring-Cleaning

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Holy Spirit’s Spring-Cleaning

     A man’s character cannot be summed up by what he does in spots, but only by what he is in the main trend of his existence. … In Matthew 7 our Lord is dealing with the need to make character. First up: The uncritical temper.

     Criticism is part of the ordinary faculty of the man, he has a sense of humor—a sense of proportion, he sees where things are wrong and pulls the other fellow to bits; but Jesus says, “As a disciple, cultivate the uncritical temper.” In the spiritual domain, criticism is love turned sour. In a wholesome spiritual life there is no room for criticism. …  

     No human being dare criticize another human being, because immediately he does he puts himself in a superior position to the one he criticizes. … That is never the work of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost alone is in the true position of a critic; He is able to show what is wrong without wounding and hurting. … If we let these searchlights go straight down to the root of our spiritual life we will see you why Jesus says, “Don’t judge”; we won’t have time to. Our whole life is to be lived so in the power of God that He can pour through us rivers of living water to others. …  

     Jesus says of criticism, “Apply it to yourself, never to anyone else.” … It is impossible to develop the characteristics of a saint and maintain a critical attitude. The first thing the Holy Spirit does is to give us a spring-cleaning….

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The dictionary defines criticism as the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality something. Jesus is looking for disciples whose character-in-action brings glory to our heavenly Father. 

One area in which we all need to have the loving, penetrating searching of the Holy Spirit is in the area of our criticism We can criticize—but only ourselves; never others. We can criticize ourselves—but only in the loving eyes of the Holy Spirit who knows best how to give us a proper spring-cleaning. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Backfire! (Proverbs 26)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…honor is not fitting for a fool (Proverbs 26:1).

However well-intentioned, there are some things guaranteed to backfire. Things like…

… honoring a fool (vv. 1, 8)

… trying to curse or bring down a good man (v. 2)

… letting a fool roam without restraint (v. 3)

… trying to reason with a fool (vv. 4, 5)

… trusting an untrustworthy man to deliver a message accurately (v. 6)

… allowing a fool to teach others (vv. 7, 9)

… not letting a fool learn from the consequences of his foolishness (vv. 10-12)

… entrusting a lazy man with an important task (vv. 13-16)

… meddling in someone else’s quarrel (v. 17)

… inappropriate joking (vv. 18, 19)

… gossiping (vv. 20-22)

… judging by outward appearances (vv. 23-26)

… trying to entrap someone (v. 27)

… lying and flattery (v. 28)

Stay clear of these guaranteed-to-backfire traps! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Don’t Judge By Outward Appearances (Proverbs 23)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…they are deceptive food (Proverbs 23:3).

Jesus said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24). That means we have to look beyond the surface; we have to see things as they really are, not as we want them to be. 

Things like…

…the outward appearances of wealth aren’t the same thing as true riches (vv. 1-3, 6, 8)

…overwork doesn’t mean it’s good work or a noble work ethic (vv. 4-5) 

…just because someone hears you doesn’t mean they are truly listening to you (v. 9)

…just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it (vv. 10-11)

…children may grumble in the moment of correction, but they will be truly thankful in the end (vv. 12-5, 22-25)

…sinners aren’t “getting away” with their sins (vv. 17-18)

…people who “party hardy” aren’t necessarily enjoying themselves (vv. 19-21, 29-35)

…pornography and other sexual sins aren’t victimless crimes or “no one is getting hurt” activities (vv. 26-28) 

As the Holy Spirit to show you the truth. Ask Him to show you the ultimate consequences of your activities. Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. 

6 Quotes On Meekness From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are the meek (Matthew 5:5)…

“Meekness is not being timid, spineless, unassertive, and easily dominated. It is not a natural niceness. In fact, it has nothing to do with one’s personality or temperament.”

“There is then a twofold expression of meekness: first toward God and then toward other people. Meekness toward God involves: (1) responsiveness to His Word; (2) submission to His Providence.”

“As I reflect on our evangelical community to the extent I am aware of it, it seems we are more knowers of the Word than doers of the word. … Instead we too often use the Scriptures not as a means of judging ourselves but as a means of judging others, especially those whose sins are more flagrant than ours. The meek person, in contrast, searches the Scriptures (or listens to it taught) not to judge others but to allow the Holy Spirit to judge him or her. In fact, the meek person earnestly desires the Spirit to use His Word to effect a deep change in his or her inner being.”

“Thomas Watson wrote that meekness toward other people consists of three things: the bearing of injuries, the forgiving of injuries, and the returning of good for evil.”

“Because we have been forgiven so much, we have an obligation to forgive those who sin against us. Yet our motive for forgiving should not be our obligation but the realization of how much we have been forgiven.”

“Meekness towards man means bearing patiently with the hurtful actions of others and dealing gently with their failures, not only in the assurance that all of these are under God’s providential control, but in the knowledge that, left to ourselves, we have no claim to be any stronger than the weakest of our friends or any better than the worst of our enemies.” —John Blanchard

I have previously shared quotes on:

Quotes on the next Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

3 Lessons From Obadiah

Obadiah

Photo (c) Laura Kranz at The Overview Bible Project (click on the photo for more info)

The prophet Obadiah wrote just 21 verses around 840 B.C. I know that the last 12 books of the Old Testament are referred to as “minor prophets” (not because of quality or validity, but because of length), but this prophet packs a major punch. Here are three lessons I learned from Obadiah―

[1] Pride is a killer.

The pride of your heart has deceived you (v. 3). Pride makes me believe the best about myself and the worst about everyone else; it’s unbalanced scales. Pride allows me to excuse my sins, even calling them “virtues,” while at the same time hypocritically judging the “sins” of others.

[2] It is God’s place to judge, not mine.

You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune (v. 12). My place is to love God and love others—to help and not condemn—to extend mercy, not judgment. Even if my enemy stumbles I shouldn’t rejoice or gloat (Proverbs 24:17-18), how much less when it’s my brother who has stumbled!

[3] Live as if Judgment Day were tomorrow.

The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head (v. 15). Boom! The measure I use will be the measure I receive. The One Who neither sleeps nor slumbers sees all I do, and He will judge perfectly.

Don’t miss the major messages in the “minor” prophets!

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