“Boko Haram has emerged as one of the world's most dangerous and violent Islamic terrorist sects.”
This quote is from an article entitled Photo prompts speculation Nigeria’s Boko Haram leader killed in battle at FoxNews.com (Warning: Link contains graphic images). We’ve talked about the atrocities of Boko Haram a lot over the last few weeks as we consider some aspects of Psalm 37. As you can probably guess by the title, the leader of this brutal terrorist group may be dead. But if you read the article, you’ll find that authorities don’t know for sure if he’s dead or alive. The man in the gruesome photos may be a body double. To further increase suspicion, neighboring militant groups have reported his death before only to be proven false later.
Perhaps he is dead, in which case I mourn for the state of his soul. Heaven doesn’t await those who reject the message of Jesus. Perhaps he is still alive, in which case hope remains for him. It’s happened before.
Either way, Scripture assures us of the outcome of the evil among us. That’s what we’re going to read about today in this final section of our study on Psalm 37.
We’ve already studied who we are as children of God in the midst of an evil world. We looked at what we should do and what God will do for us – His children – in an evil world. Today, we wrap up the study by comparing the final outcome of the children of God with the outcome of those who reject His message of salvation. Where will each group live for eternity?
Outcome for God’s Children
37:3 – Live securely. As a shepherd watches over his flock, God will watch over His children. That’s the message here; it’s a familiar one in the New Testament. “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:14-16).
37:4 – Obtain our heart’s desires. If we delight in Him, He grants our heart’s desires. The first half is the balance to the second half. God doesn’t give everyone everything we want. But for those who delight in Him – who make Him their reason to be happy – He will grant you your heart’s desires. A key factor here is that when He is our reason to be happy, then the desires of our heart align themselves with what He would want as well. “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17 NIV).
37:11 – Enjoy abundant prosperity. I’m not sure about the word “prosperity” here. The Hebrew is the common word shalom which can mean prosperity but is more commonly translated as peace. In our world of war, I like the idea of abundant peace in the end for God’s children. “And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
37:19 – Won’t be disgraced; will be satisfied. A reality of life is that hard times are going to come. Quite often, the presence of evil in the world causes those hard times. And yet, God’s children won’t be ashamed or disappointed during those times. They will be satisfied. “Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks He distributed them to those who were seated – so also with the fish, as much as they wanted” (John 6:11).
37:24 – Won’t be overwhelmed. The idea behind this phrase is something causes you to be hurled or thrown down. God’s children fell; we’ve all sinned. Satan sinned too and the result for him was to be cast down from heaven. We sinned but God sent a Savior so that we won’t be overwhelmed – we won’t be cast down from God’s presence in the end. “Anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
37:37 – Will have a future. This phrase is similar to the ones we read in verses 11 and 24. When the end comes, the child of God will know peace. The evil will be cast into the lake of fire but the child of God will rest in His presence. “Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
37:3, 9, 11, 18, 22, 27, 29, 34 – Inherit the land and dwell in it forever. I saved the best for last; isn’t it amazing how these are building one on the other? What an example of God’s perfect word! God promised the land to Abraham for his descendants. This physical Promised Land symbolizes a spiritual Promised Land that awaits each of Abraham’s descendants – an eternity in heaven! You can read all of Romans 4 to see this but for now, “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness. … This is why the promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace, to guarantee it to all the descendants – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of Abraham’s faith. He is the father of us all” (Romans 4:3, 16).
Outcome for the Evil
37:2, 10 – Will wither and wilt. The evil have no lasting place. They’re like a plant that is here today and gone tomorrow. “The grass withers, the flowers fade when the breath of the LORD blows on them; indeed, the people are grass. The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever” (Isaiah 40:7-8).
37:15 – Pierced by their own swords. Their own actions – their own choices – will bring them to destruction in the end. “The LORD has revealed Himself; He has executed justice, striking down the wicked by the work of their hands” (Psalm 9:16).
37:15 – Bows will be broken. God will not allow their wars and evil to continue. In the future, He will return a second time to reign in peace. At that time, He alone will be exalted among the nations. “He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; He burns up the chariots. ‘Stop your fighting – and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth’” (Psalm 46:9-10).
37:17 – Arms (or power) will be broken. The Hebrew word for “arms” is often symbolic of power throughout the Old Testament. It is even translated as such a few times. The power of God and the light of His truth are foundations for followers of Christ. Yet, for those who reject Him and choose evil, “Light is withheld from the wicked, and the arm raised in violence is broken” (Job 38:15).
37:20 – Will perish and fade away. They come to nothing. No one remembers the wicked in grandeur. The hopes of the wicked die with them. “As smoke is blows away, so You blow them away. As wax melts before the fire, so the wicked are destroyed before God” (Psalm 68:2).
37:9, 22, 28, 34, 38 – Will be destroyed. Wicked, evildoers, cursed, children of the wicked, and future of the wicked; God brings all of it to destruction. The outcome for God’s children ends with our freedom to inherit and dwell in the land forever. It’s not so for the evil. “For the upright will inhabit the land, and those of integrity will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous uprooted from it” (Proverbs 2:21-22).
We’ve asked a series of questions and looked to Psalm 37 for answers. We could probably ask several more. But we’ve seen the truth already; we must decide what we’re going to do about it.
Who are we in a world of evil? We’re those who live differently from the ways of the world as we follow the way God designed for us to live.
What should we do in a world of evil? We can turn our focus to Almighty God as we trust Him and intertwine our lives with Him.
What does God do in a world of evil? He is there for us in ways we can never imagine providing us with all that we need.
Finally, what are the outcomes for both the good and the evil? Where will they live for eternity? This is the question where we face a decision. We’ve talked about the evil of groups like Boko Haram and ISIS. But we’re all evil. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and our “heart is more deceitful than anything else and incurable” (Romans 3:23 and Jeremiah 17:9, respectively). We are among the evil until we choose to surrender to Jesus and give Him our sinful heart by faith. In His infinite grace, He forgives the evils of our deceitful hearts and makes us one of His children. He brings us into the sheepfold and allows us to be among those who inherit the land, as we mentioned earlier in this article. Click here to read more about finding a relationship with Christ.
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