Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Matthew 13:44-58; Acts 20:13-38; Psalm 37:23-40; Exodus 24-26
The psalmist urges his listeners to turn from evil and do good. He uses terms and images commonly found in the wisdom literature like Proverbs. While he may never have seen a just man’s children begging for bread, he is not guaranteeing success for those who follow God faithfully (Psalm 37:25). Those following God may fall, which likely reflects the ups and downs of life, not a moral fall (v. 24). The psalmist notes that the wicked seek to kill the just (v. 32), and that arrogant wicked men appear to flourish. His point is not that the good succeed and the bad fail in this life. Rather, the psalmist’s confidence is in the faithfulness of the Lord and that the just way is the right way.
Because God loves justice, we should be just (v. 28). We come to know justice as we take God’s teachings into our hearts (v. 31). This is no superficial understanding of rules and rituals. We must allow God to shape our characters and our hearts. As we become just, our words will be wise and we will promote justice and peace (v. 37). We will call for people to be treated according to the value they have in the eyes of God. We will speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, and expose those who treat people unfairly or demean their value. We ourselves will be committed to honesty and fairness.
The result is not a promise of an easy life or a comfortable one. It is a life where our steps will be sure because we know we are on the right road. We will also have confidence in where we are going. The just person has a sure inheritance in the future. ‘Forever’ is repeated three times in three verses (vv. 27-29), calling attention to an eternal perspective. The wicked may prospect in this life and look like they are flourishing. But there is a future well beyond this life (v. 37). That future is where the just have their focus, as do those who are ethical, of high integrity, and who promote peace.
Those who are just have a deep sense of security. They know where they stand with God, and that he will always be there to help them (v. 39). They know they have chosen the right path, even if the road is rough and rocky. They may stumble and fall, but they know where they are going. On the way, they know they are protected by the love and concern of the Lord.