A Psalmist’s Guide to Processing Evil

by | Jul 10, 2020 | Anxiety, Current Events | 0 comments


Friends, here’s another guest post from Tony DeFranco. Please take some time with this. It might even be a great morning devotion meditation, with Psalm 37 open in front of you, a pencil in your hands, and a few minutes to talk to God about it all. Enjoy… –BW

I cannot think of a better word than exhausting to describe the last few months. How else would anyone describe scrolling through news feeds on several different apps followed by long sessions on social media – the platform where we watch iPhone videos of people being murdered and cities being burnt to the ground? All of this content is invested in us on our hour lunch break during work, while we wait in line somewhere, or maybe because we think that is the only way we can be informed about the world around us.

Yet, something is missing within this new way of life, with our phones in our hands. We “know” more, yet do less. After all, there is no time to act when there are more headlines to read, peoples’ opinions to scroll through, and hashtags to learn so we are relevant. None of that is proper action toward evil. So what’s missing? The ability to process. Think about it. If from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep I get hit with: someone being murdered (that one comes with a video filmed by a person walking by the scene), a tsunami leveling an entire people group, riots in my city, Coronavirus “on the rise,” and a new scandal that just broke from a major politician; can I actually process each and every one of those things? No way. Especially when the very next morning we are going to get a fresh set of headlines.

This leads me to a question I have been asking myself more and more lately: why do so many people feel the need to start social media accounts where they can comment on current events? They’re not news anchors, professors, writers, or anything that would be classified as a position that justifies such commentary. It think the answer is, it’s their version of processing.

The danger for us comes when we do not process things happening in our world for ourselves, but let the people with social media accounts do that work for us. I mean, after all, we are already on the platform getting the news, so why not see what 25 different people have to say about the issues right? In the most gracious way I can say it, I’d like to submit this thought—that is not the right way to process what we see happening around us. In fact, it’s dangerous and toxic. How we process will determine how we act. How then, does someone following Jesus process the onslaught of evil we see growing around us? Through the lens of the Bible.

We need to see the world the way God’s Word defines the world. 

One of the most life-giving things I have done in light of the growing list of bad headlines is process each heartbreaking narrative through the Psalms. It is from that mindset and posture that I become empowered to act in a way that pleases God. Psalm 37 in particular has been one I continually revisit to gain grounding and definition in the midst of the chaos and confusion we live in daily. I’d like to offer what is within that Psalm to you as something we need to meditate on and let sink in so that all of our action toward evil and wickedness in the world comes from a place of Biblical security and peace. I encourage you to read Psalm 37 on your own, and often.

1. THE REALITY (What is actually true no matter what I see)

“Wicked Man,” and “Evildoers”

  • fade like the grass v.2
  • wither like the green herb v.2
  • will be cut off v.9
  • will be no more v.10
  • his day comes v.13
  • their own weapons will be there end v.15
  • their arms will be broken v.17
  • will perish v.20
  • cursed by God v.22
  • cut off vv.22, 28, 34, 38
  • they cease to be known v.36
  • altogether destroyed v.38
  • they have no future v.38

“The Righteous”

  • inherit the land v.9, 11, 22, 29
  • upheld by the Lord v.17, 39
  • known by the Lord v.18
  • preserved forever v.18, 24, 28, 29
  • protected from shame v.19
  • provided for in famine v.19
  • not forsaken v.28
  • not abandoned to the wicked v.33
  • counted innocent v.33
  • has a future v.37
  • saved v.39
  • delivered v.40

Key Insight:

 Believing these things enables us
to act in the most beneficial and God honoring way
toward any given situation.

2. OUR RESPONSE (What can actually come out of me, no matter how I feel)

If we believe the reality defined above, we will respond differently than people who do not follow Jesus

  1. We do not get worked up over evil and angry at the ones causing it(vv. 1-2, 7b-8)
  1. We process evil with our preservation in God at the forefront of our minds(vv. 3-7a, 8a, 21-22, 27, 30, 34)
  1. From there we can take action and know we are honoring God, because we believe His definition of every situation

3. THE BIBLE’S GUARANTEE (Why we can fully trust that this reality is true)

There is no doubt that we can trust God’s reality, the Psalmist tells us what we are experiencing in 2020 is nothing new, and that evil never lasts.

Concerning the “wicked man”:

I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a free laurel tree. But he passed away, and behold he was no more; though I sought him he could not be found. (vv. 35-36)

Concerning the “righteous”

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. (v. 25)

Please hear me out: these things are true.

Evil cannot, will not, does not prevail.
Perpetrators of such things cannot, will not, do not prevail.
God sees where we are at; He is not surprised.
He has seen it before, and He has big plans to bring it all to an end.

It is from that reality that we need to be taking action toward the things we see around us that are evil, not the reality of CNN, Fox News, Facebook, or someone on YouTube.

The reality described to us in the Bible should be our guide, it is within those pages that we must process evil. We can be assured that if we do that God will move through us to have His will done on earth as it is in heaven.