Suicide bombings in Beirut kill 43, wound 239. Terrorist attacks in Paris kill 130, wound 368. Ten dead at an Oregon college, fourteen in San Bernardino. And those are just in the past two months.
Gun control. Prayer shaming. Closing borders. Fear.
These are the responses to the evil and violence that seem to be growing in intensity and frequency not only in our nation, but around the world. Politicians on one side call for gun control; on the other side, for border walls. The news media calls for solutions while reveling in the business; fear—like sex—sells.
Christians divide: some call for war, some for peace, all for prayer. Some want to reject Muslim refugees, some want to eradicate Islam altogether. Others want to win Muslims through love and service, a la the Good Samaritan in one of Jesus’ more well-known parables.
This morning I read these familiar words in a new light:
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. (Psalm 37:3-6, ESV)
It is a passage often quoted by Christians, offering hope and encouragement through trust in a good and faithful God. What struck me this morning, though, was the broader context in which these verses lie. Far from being a simple call to faith in the midst of the normal challenges of everyday life, the backdrop to Psalm 37 is a time of great strife, enmity, and threats from surrounding nations. The aging David’s reign over Israel has been marked by war and bloodshed; his victories on the battlefield have left behind jealous, hate-filled enemies. Even before ascending the throne, David’s life since youth was spent running from his own king, fearing for his own life.
This warrior-king’s call is to place faith over fear; to trust in God even in the face of threats and imminent danger. When David uses words like evil and wicked and wrongdoers, he is not talking primarily about swindlers or cheaters, but about bloodthirsty adversaries bent on killing. If he were writing today, perhaps he would use the word “terrorists.”
And how does David say we should live in the face of this great evil? Not in fear or hatred, which “tends only to evil” (v. 8), but in goodness and trust, in worship and faithfulness, in righteousness and justice.
We should live with great trust in the Lord who “laughs at the wicked, for He sees that his day his coming” (verse 13).
Today, will you live in fear or—worse—in hatred? Or will you trust in the God who sees…and who will one day act to end all violence and fear and hatred? …the God who laughs in the face of evil.