8 min 5 mths

5.5 Lest the Righteous Be Tempted

Read Psalm 37:1, 8; 49:6–8; 94:3–7; and 125:3. What problems does the psalmist struggle with?
The Psalms, particularly Psalm 37, 49, 94, and 125, address the challenges and questions that arise for the righteous when the wicked seem to prosper. Here are the specific problems the psalmist grapples with:
Psalm 37:1, 8:
  • Prosperity of the Wicked: The psalmist laments the prosperity of the wicked, their apparent success despite their godlessness.
  • Temptation to Unrighteousness: Faced with the apparent rewards for the wicked, the temptation for the righteous might be to choose the same path or question God.
Psalm 49:6–8:
  • Wealth and Power of the Wicked: The psalmist confronts the fact that the wicked often possess wealth and power while arrogantly despising God.
  • Temptation through Material Prosperity: The question may arise as to why the righteous do not follow the example of the wicked and also pursue wealth and power.
Psalm 94:3–7:
  • Arrogance of the Wicked: The psalmist laments the arrogance of the godless who rise against God and oppress the righteous.
  • Apparent Impunity: The wicked seem to get away with their actions, leading to frustration and confusion among the righteous.
Psalm 125:3:
  • Rule of Godlessness: The psalmist observes that the power of the godless seems to reign over the world.
  • Fragile Position of the Righteous: Faced with the apparent dominance of evil, it might be challenging for the righteous to hold onto their position.
Central Problem:
  • Temptation to Resignation: Due to these challenges, the central question could arise as to why the righteous do not give up and join the wicked, as it seemingly leads to worldly success.
Lessons from the Psalms:
  • Long-term Perspective: The Psalms emphasize the importance of a long-term perspective. Even if the wicked prosper temporarily, their story does not end well.
  • Trust in God’s Justice: The righteous are encouraged to trust in God’s justice despite the apparent dominance of evil and not lose faith.
  • Faithfulness despite Challenges: The Psalms urge the righteous to remain faithful even when confronted with life’s challenges.
Overall, these Psalms reflect the human reality that evil sometimes seems to prosper temporarily. However, the lesson is that the righteous should trust in God, even when it is difficult, and hope that God’s justice will ultimately triumph.
Read Psalm 73:1–20, 27. What brings the psalmist through the crisis? How do those who trust in worthless things end? (See also 1 Peter 1:17)
Psalm 73 describes the spiritual crisis of the psalmist, who grapples with the apparent prosperity of the wicked. Here are key aspects of the psalm and the solution that brings the psalmist through the crisis:
Psalm 73:1–20, 27: Problems of the Psalmist:
  1. Confusion due to the Prosperity of the Wicked: The psalmist is disturbed because the wicked thrive while he lives in faithfulness to God (Verses 2–3).
  2. Temptation to Doubt: The prosperity of the godless leads the psalmist to the temptation of questioning his faith and loyalty to God (Verses 13–14).
Solution and Turning Point:
  1. Visit to the Sanctuary: The turning point comes when the psalmist enters the sanctuary, the place of God’s presence (Verse 17).
  2. Change in Perspective: In the sanctuary, the psalmist gains a divine perspective and recognizes the ultimate destiny of the wicked (Verses 18–20).
  3. Awareness of God’s Presence: The crucial insight is that God has always been with him, and he repents of his lack of understanding (Verses 21–22).
Conclusion and Lesson:
  1. Warning against Trusting in Worthless Things: Those who trust in worthless things have a dire end (Verses 26–27).
  2. God is Good to the Pure in Heart: The closing verse summarizes the central lesson of the psalm: “For indeed, God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure” (Verse 28).
Connection to 1 Peter 1:17: The psalmist comes to the understanding that the present prosperity of the wicked is only temporary, and God’s judgment will come. Similarly, the Apostle Peter reminds believers that, during their time on earth, they live as strangers and pilgrims and that God will judge each work impartially (1 Peter 1:17). This reminder strengthens believers in their faith and dedication to God, even when faced with difficulties.
Lessons for us:
  1. Change of Perspective in the Sanctuary: In times of confusion and temptation, it is crucial to seek a change in perspective and experience God’s presence, as the psalmist did in the sanctuary.
  2. Recognition of the Final Destiny: Understanding that the ultimate destiny of the wicked lies in God’s judgment helps us place our hope in God’s justice.
  3. Confession of Foolishness and Repentance: Like the psalmist, it is important to confess our foolishness and repent when tempted to doubt the wisdom of God.
  4. Trust in God’s Goodness: Regardless of circumstances, we can trust that God is good to those with pure hearts. The psalm shows that spiritual insight and awareness of God’s presence are essential to overcoming the challenges of the world.
How can the promise of God’s judgment over the world and all its evil bring you comfort when so much evil currently goes unpunished?
The promise of God’s judgment over the world and all its evil can bring comfort, even when much evil currently appears to go unpunished, for several reasons:
  1. God is Just and Sovereign:
    • The promises of God’s judgment are based on the certainty that God is just and sovereign. Even if evil seems to go unpunished temporarily, faith trusts that God will ultimately bring every injustice to light and judge it.
  2. Long-term Perspective:
    • The promises of God’s judgment remind us that present suffering and injustice are not the final word. A long-term perspective helps us look beyond immediate circumstances and hope for God’s ultimate justice.
  3. God Keeps His Promises:
    • God’s promises are reliable. When He promises to judge unrighteousness, He will fulfill that promise. In difficult times, we can recall God’s faithfulness to His promises and trust that He will bring them to fruition.
  4. God’s Timing is Different:
    • God’s timing often differs from our human understanding of time. Even when evil appears to thrive temporarily, God’s judgment may be a matter of patience and the right timing.
  5. Communion with the Suffering:
    • The promise of God’s judgment encourages solidarity with those who suffer. Even if evil seems unpunished for now, believers are called to comfort, support, and hope in God’s justice together.
  6. Self-examination and Repentance:
    • The prospect of God’s judgment should lead to self-examination and repentance. We can reconsider our actions and attitudes, aligning ourselves with God’s justice.
  7. Hope for a New Creation:
    • The promises of God’s judgment are often linked to the idea of a new creation where justice reigns. This hope for a future free from injustice can bring comfort and redirect our focus toward the ultimate goal.
  8. Redemption through Christ:
    • For Christians, the certainty of God’s judgment is connected to the hope of redemption through Christ. Christ will return as the Judge to establish justice and redeem His people.
Overall, the promises of God’s judgment amid present suffering and unpunished evil can be a source of comfort and hope. They rest on God’s character, faithfulness, and sovereignty. Belief in God’s final justice allows us to stand firm in the face of current challenges, trusting in the fulfillment of His promises.

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