“Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.[c]
You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue!
Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying,
“Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.”
-Psalm 52, NIV (emphasis mine)
To be completely honest, this Psalm was a little aggravating.
I was able to meet him half way. Once I read the whole story about who Doeg was and how he convinced Saul that a priest had betrayed him and aided his now enemy David, which was all a lie, and lead Saul to order the deaths of over eighty priests, I understood the violent, vindictive language. I understood it even more so when I learned that Saul’s soldiers refused the order, driving Doeg to carry out an extermination on his own of an entire town, including women and the elderly and children, just to advance himself into Saul’s good graces.
Once I knew that Doeg was to the world then what a terrorist is to us now, I was fine with David getting AT him… even though David was far from perfect himself. I was okay with the hypocrisy and the faint smell of an inflated ego, because in the end, I’m happy something was said about Doeg.
“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;”
What frustrates me though, above all things, is the premise that God is always good to those who follow Him. That David, because he believes in God, is going to be just dandy. That may strike you as unchristian, but hear me out.
From what I have seen of this world, blessings don’t seem to fall on the good and curses on the bad. It’s more complicated than that. And it bothers me.
I think about Casey Anthony, who very likely killed her baby girl and yet, got off scot-free. Or O.J. Simpson getting away with the murder of his wife. I think of the thousands of innocent children dying every day from malnutrition. And the one billion in the world that lack access to clean water. I think of Newtown and the drug lords and Anne Frank and Goldman Sachs.
Why isn’t Casey getting plucked out of her protective tent?
Why aren’t the children of Uganda flourishing?
Here’s the small bit of sense I can make of all this. When I lose everything, when it seems like my life is imploding, I am able to fling out a fraught cry to God because… where else am I to go? I can’t imagine putting all of my security in possessions alone, because those can all be gone in a moment’s time. I know God as something of an anchor that I cling to tightly for hope of something changing, because I understand and I know that He is always there.
But I struggle to grasp how he is always good.
I believe there is an explanation out there- that he must be good, but I can’t make heads or tails of it. Seems like evil is so pervasive today and quite often, I’ve seen devoted Christians bear the brunt of some truly difficult heart-shattering decisions of life. Tragedies that have Shriveled families, not made them Flourish. And the whole time, I watched these poor friends recite, through gritted teeth, feel-good clichés about God’s providence.
This is a bit of a rant. A bit of projection. A slice of my confusion with the goodness of God.
But most importantly, these are the honest doubts that replay in my mind.
So help me.
What are your thoughts?
How do you reconcile God’s goodness with evil in the world?
What does it mean to flourish?
The Psalms Journey community: a group of people writing through the Psalms. All posts are welcome. This is not about reaching some sort of standard. Or having the “correct” perspective on the biblical text.
This is about joining together as a community to rise up and declare the value and beauty and frustration and power of God’s Word.
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