Do not fret because of those who are evil

    or be envious of those who do wrong;

2 for like the grass they will soon wither,

    like green plants they will soon die away.

Last Sunday, I preached my final sermon, as a pastor, in the church I have served for nearly 32 years. Now here is a confession: during these long years I have fretted about many things. Even though I know we shouldn’t do it, it’s hard not to at times. But this I do know: none of it changed anything. It is totally unproductive (other than it may make the fretful person ill).

This psalm opens with the words: “Do not fret” (see also 7,8). In particular, it’s concern is with the ungodly who seem to prosper in this world and get away with the bad stuff they do. Much of the news is made by ‘those who are evil” and “those who do wrong”, and too much exposure to it could cause fretfulness – especially at the moment!

‘The Message’ translates:

Don’t bother your head with braggarts

    or wish you could succeed like the wicked.

In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings

    and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.

The thing is, these petty dictators (and their ilk) have got a limited life-span (as have we all). They won’t be around forever. Vladimir Putin will die and face God. Would you really want to be in his shoes?

For some reason, Robert Mugabe also came to mind as I read this. I remember him coming to power years ago. For a long time he brutally ruled the roost in Zimbabwe, causing mayhem, oppressing the people, treading them down. One article accused him of reducing the population of Zimbabwe by millions in just a few years. But eventually, in the frailty of old age and illness, he passed away.

Psalm 37 encourages us to take the long view, and recognise that although evil people may have their little ‘hour on the stage’, the curtain will surely fall.