The Deep Well with Erin Davis Podcast

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Wickedness Has an Expiration Date

Portia Collins: Have you ever been jealous of . . . evildoers? And I hate to say it that way, but that’s the way the Bible describes it. 

Erin Davis: I have! Do you know where my jealousy seems to be directed? Their big homes, which means there are big incomes attached to those big homes. And you know, I like where I live, but I sure would like to have granite countertops . . . an inground pool . . .

And I’m not saying that everybody who has a nice, fancy house is an evildoer, but I can look at those who seem to have earned their income in ways that lack integrity and feel jealous at the end result!

Portia: Welcome to The Deep Well with Erin Davis, a podcast from Revive Our Hearts. I’m Portia Collins. We’re back in Season 4 for this awesome teaching on the little phrase, “in a little while.” Do you ever feel jealous of evildoers? Well, today we’re going to talk about it. Here’s Erin.

Erin: What makes God laugh? I think the answer is going to surprise you! Before we get to the laughter of God, we need to talk about something less pleasant: the wickedness of man. Because, believe it or not, those two themes are connected.

Now “wicked”is not a word we throw around much unless we’re talking about the production on Broadway. But it’s a word that the Bible uses a lot . . . like a lot . . . hundreds of times, actually. And here on The Deep Well, I like to talk about lots of different ways to grow our appetites for Scripture, to approach our Bibles in new ways, to see it with fresh eyes.

And one way to do that is to pay attention to the words and phrases that get repeated. This whole season we’re looking for the phrase, “in a little while” in Scripture. In this episode we’re going to find it in Psalm 37 and Revelation 20.

But first, let’s get our heads wrapped around what wickedness is. For that, we need to head to a different psalm, Psalm 17. Let me read you Psalm 17, verses 13–15. These words are a prayer written by King David.

Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. (vv. 13–15)

David was praying a bold and vulnerable prayer asking God to deliver him from wicked men. But what makes someone wicked?

Well, he spelled it out in verse 14. He said, “Deliver me from men of the world whose portion is in this life.”

Now, wickedness is not reserved to men; certainly there are wicked women. But David must have had specific men in mind, because he uses that word here in this prayer. And these are not godly men.

These are worldly men. He said it right there: “. . . men of the world whose portion is in this life.” These are not men seeking God’s eternal kingdom; these are men seeking their own little earthly kingdoms. They’re not men storing up riches in heaven. David said their portion is in this life. They are men who are taking what they can; they’re going to get while the getting is good!

So we contrast the wicked with the righteous in verse 15. David’s talking about himself and he says, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I [will] be satisfied with your likeness.” So the righteous turn toward God. We’re satisfied in Him.

It would be an oversimplification to say that the wicked are sinners and the righteous are not, because we’re all sinners! But the wicked persist in their rebellion against God. There’s no Holy Spirit living inside of them to direct them. There’s no allegiance to the Word of God as the source of truth to live out. There are no people of God to hold them accountable.

We only need to scroll through our news feeds for a few seconds to see that without God, the wicked wreak absolute havoc in our lives and in our world! And here, in Psalm 17, David prayed for God to protect him, to deliver him from the wicked.

It’s in Psalm 37 where we find the words we’ve been searching for, “in a little while,” David slipped into teacher mode. And this lesson, what was it about? It was about how to live righteously among the wicked.

I’m going to take a wild guess that this morning you did not write, “Deliver my soul from the wicked, by your Sword” in your prayer journal. But did you wonder how to raise kids who believe God’s Truth in a world that’s peddling “my truth”?

Did you look at the political landscape and see nothing but partisanship and corruption and wonder how much longer God’s people can thrive in an environment that’s toxic? Did you try to watch TV with your family and did you start and stop several shows before turning it off altogether, but only after being exposed to several murders or sex scenes . . . or both?

Do you feel sad, afraid, disgusted, anxious, or downright angry about the trajectory of morality in our day? Then you have felt what David felt. As Christians who believe there is such a thing as right and wrong in a world that peddles moral relativism, as Christians who have to face the fact over and over and over that we are not the home team and that wickedness seems to have recruited all the talent, all the money, all the power . . . how does “in a little while” speak into our feeling that wickedness is winning, that the front of darkness keeps moving closer and closer toward us?

It’s moving toward our children; it’s moving toward our churches. And we worry—I worry!—that it’s going to infiltrate our own hearts. Let me show you an answer. It comes from Psalm 37:10. There King David wrote: “In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.”

Did you hear it? What is this passage promising will happen in a little while? In just a little while, the wicked will be no more. How can this be true? Within one generation of the Garden of Eden, brother was murdering brother. 

The face of the earth seems to produce no end of violent criminals and power-hungry political leaders and vile entertainment options. Three dozen countries are involved in military conflict right this very moment in forty different wars. How can it be true that in just a little while the wicked will be no more? That we’ll look, and they’ll just be gone . . . when there’s so much wickedness? How can this be true when wickedness has gone on so long . . . and it seems to be growing? How can what David wrote here in Psalm 37, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, how can it be true?

Keep reading; the Bible is a deep well! Skip ahead to Psalm 37:13, and we get the answer to the question, “What makes God laugh?”:

. . . but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.

What makes God laugh? Well, probably among other things, the plans of the wicked, because they think their sin is not going to find them out. And God knows, even if we forget, that wickedness has an expiration date!

I want you to turn with me to the book of Revelation. We’re going to be in Revelation chapter 20. Verses 2–3 say this:

And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years . . . and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. 

Now, I don’t know where you land on the timeline of end times. There are lots of different theories about the timing of all of this. Frankly, I don’t know where I land fully on the timing of end times events. Is this something that is going to happen? Is this something that has already happened? When is the thousand years?

There are really smart Bible scholars on both sides. I’m comfortable landing with the confidence that God has given me the wisdom to understand exactly what I need to understand for right now. And as I read these verses in Revelation 20, one thing is crystal clear: “After that he [Satan] must be released for . . . a . . . little . . . while.” 

Now, I think the fear in us tends to gravitate towards the release date: “When is Satan going to get released?” But what Scripture calls us to do is to force our faith to focus on the fact that he’s only going to be released “for a little while.” Satan has a term limit, which means wickedness has a term limit.

It means evil has a term limit, darkness has a term limit, and it’s only going to last for a little while longer. We’ve seen it over and over. Every time the phrase “in a little while” appears in our Bibles, there are two timelines. There’s the lower timeline: what we see—or rather, what we see shadows of.

We can’t see into the future, so we can’t know everything that Revelation 20 is trying to tell us. We can’t even fully remember the past. All we can see is the little dot on the timeline where we currently sit. And, even then, we only have our perspective. So if we’re honest, we don’t, we can’t, have a very good grasp of time. 

And because of that, it feels like to us that wickedness has run amok for a very, very long time unchecked . . . and that wickedness might run amok indefinitely. But there’s an upper timeline, where God is at work, and He’s not just at work in one direction or even two—frontward and backward—He’s at work in every direction!

And when God sees the eternal scope of time, He inspired the writers of Scripture to say the devil will be released, but only for a little while. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more. Though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. 

Let’s go back to Psalm 37. Understanding what David said in verse 10, which is that the wicked won’t last forever, I want you to make a list. No, really! I want you to make a list based on these verses. Listen to how David encourages us to live. He spells it out in pretty clear language in Psalm 37:1–9.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!

If you’re making a list,

Number 1: Fret not.

Number 2: Don’t envy!

Pick it up at verse 2:

For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

Don’t you love that phrase, “Befriend faithfulness”? And what a good friend faithfulness to God is! The footnotes in my Bible offer a couple of alternate translations: “Feed on faithfulness,” (you are what you eat!), and “find safe pasture.”

Faithfulness to God, to His Word, to His ways. It is a safe pasture, even if it seems like all the fun is happening over at the rodeo.

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. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself [third time in eight verses!]; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” (vv. 4–9)

How do the righteous live in a wicked world? How do we thrive in this time period of “in a little while?” That’s where we live. We’re in the “a little while” before wickedness is no more! It’s not rhetorical; it’s not just some theory; it’s not abstract.

David tells us, “Don’t fret! Don’t envy those who do wrong and seem to prosper.” We trust God, we do good, we find our delight in Jesus instead of despairing in the headlines. And when we feel all worked up about the wickedness of our world, we get really, really still in God’s presence. We run away from anger, we resist wrath.

David said it three times, so I will too: we fret not, we fret not, we fret not. As we keep reading through that psalm, if we want to be like God, we laugh. We keep our joy because we know the Day of the Lord is coming, and the wicked will not last forever.

Because, “in just a little while, the wicked will be no more!” I want you to sink your feet into that like concrete. Because in just a little while the wicked will be no more, we don’t have to fret. We can delight in the Lord; we can be still.

One thing I love about the Bible is that it gets my attention off of my current reality. This present darkness is dark! Satan is the prince of our day. Ephesians 2:2 calls him “the prince of the power of the air,” but he sure isn’t the King of All Time. It’s only Jesus who sits on that throne. 

So, through the lens of Scripture, we can look at the wickedness of our day with resolve, knowing that this is the day that the Lord has made (see Ps. 118:24), not the day that the enemy has made. What can save us from wickedness? Not the courts or the police—at least not fully—not political change, not moral shift. Those things are good. They’re not God.

Through His Word, God gives us a greater hope: “In just a little while the wicked will be no more. Though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.”

Erin Unscripted

Portia: Wow! Erin, I got so much out of that teaching, and it resonates with me because, honestly, I have been jealous of evildoers.

Erin: Tell me about it!

Portia: So you focused on Psalm 37. I often read Psalm 73, and this is where God is talking about that He’s going to vindicate those who are His. And you know, as I was listening to you teach, I felt like really running into my mind of how though it may seem as if evildoers are prospering now and that things are easy for them, God is not oblivious.

His ways . . . we don’t have to fret what’s going on around us, what they’re doing. We don’t have to worry about if God is going to get it right. He’s going to get it right! . . . in a little while.

Erin: Mmm, that’s so good.

Portia: Yes. You’re teaching from Psalm 37, but as you were teaching, I was reminded of a couple verses from Psalm 73, specifically where the psalmist says in verses 24–25, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire [but] you.” (NIV)

I guess I want to draw a line from that verse back to the concept of what we’re seeing in Psalm 37 about delighting in how, really ultimately, our ultimate desires are fulfilled, and the fullness of that is realized in our delight in God. The innermost part of what it is that we think we want and all the things that we’re grabbing at in life, ultimately, we find that only through God, and our delight in Him. 

Erin: That’s so true! I mentioned being envious of those who are able to get more material wealth by means of wickedness than I can. But that doesn’t mean they’re satisfied. That doesn’t mean their delight is in the Lord; it’s not, if they earned it by way of wickedness.

That passage, Psalm 37, is where we get that verse that we love to quote: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (v. 4). I love that you took us to Psalm 73, because those are two sides of the same thought.

It’s not, delight myself in the Lord and He’s going to give me the mansion with the granite countertops and the inground pool. But I delight myself in the Lord and He gives me the Lord! He gives me more of Himself.

Portia: Which is ultimately what we need.

Erin: It’s what we’re craving.

Portia: Exactly! It’s what we’re created for . . . even when we don’t even know it.

Erin: That’s right, and any attempt to satisfy those longings with something, anything, other than Jesus (we could name any number of things that the wicked might be pursuing) is going to be hollow. So, really, who’s rich? The wicked or the righteous?

Portia: The righteous.

Erin: Portia, we’re both mamas. You have one three-year-old; I’ve got four—teenager to toddler. And really, I don’t think about wickedness a whole lot except for in the context of parenting. As you parent your little girl, what worries you about the wickedness of the world?

Portia: The negative influence. There are a lot of things that I can control, but I can’t control the wicked! And I am so . . . I don’t want to say “fearful,” because I know the Lord has not given me a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7), but . . .

Erin: “Watchful!” We’re watchful as mamas, aren’t we? 

Portia: Right! We’re watchful, and we are concerned. I almost feel a little bit like a little watchdog, like I’m just waiting to block something or to knock it out of the way so that she’s not hit by it or influenced by it.So I think that is a huge concern for me, not allowing wickedness to be the primary influence for my daughter.

Erin: Yes, and there’s probably some pride in this statement, but I have some confidence . . . I’ve been a Christian for twenty-five years. I am reading my Bible. I am involved in church. I know I have the Holy Spirit. I have some confidence that when wickedness comes at me, I’ll be able to recognize it.

But my children are young, they’re at various points in their own walk with Jesus. They’re immature in every way possible: their bodies are immature, their minds are immature, their hearts are immature, their spiritual lives are immature. So I do get more watchful about the influence of wickedness in their lives.

I can’t just put them in a box and nail the top closed and not have the world have any influence over them. So when David prayed, “Lord, save me from these wicked men!” The way that relates to my life is, “Lord, protect my children from wickedness!” So I can relate to the way David prayed.

Portia: You know, I never want my daughter to grow weary of doing good, doing well. I don’t want her to think that the Christian life is just lost. Sometimes when I see wickedness, and it appears it is seemingly conveying a message of prosperity, it makes me want to make sure that I’m teaching her that, “No, that’s not real prosperity, that’s not real goodness. And I don’t want the Christian life to be lost on you when you think, Why am I even walking in this way? Why am I choosing to follow Jesus?”

Erin: Yes, the grass seems greener on the other side.

Portia: Exactly! I want her to know that there is an eternal hope. There is a reward! I think we forget that there is a reward that we will be able to lay claim to in heaven. So, I never want her to think that the way of wickedness is the best way or the blessed way, because it’s not.

I also don’t want my children to think, All Christians are good and all non-Christians are to be feared. That’s an extreme application, maybe, of what we have been reading. Non-Christians need Jesus, so if we avoid them all outright because of fear that they might infiltrate us in some way, then who’s going to take the gospel to the lost?

It takes multiple conversations; it takes a bigger view of God and a bigger view of people than just putting people into two groups. But, while they’re little (and probably beyond, I haven’t raised kids beyond the age of thirteen), I think it takes us being watchful. But wickedness can appear really like a path that people want to take.

Portia: We know that wickedness is literally everywhere, but there is often a tendency to divide into these different groups—political groups, social groups—and the issue is we want to ascribe wickedness to those who are standing on the opposite side of the fence. 

But there is a danger if we don’t even recognize the wickedness that is in our own group. Talk to me a little about how you wrestle with the temptation to just see wickedness as “those folks over there.”

Erin: Right, well it’s “plank-eye syndrome” (from Luke 6:42), that wickedness is something that “you are, you do,” and not something that “I am or I do.” So we tend to minimize our own wickedness and inflate somebody else’s wickedness.

The other thing we do is we don’t call things wicked that are actually wicked. We dance around it. But I am wicked in my heart, that’s why I need Jesus so much! I’ll sometimes talk to moms, or I’ve thought this myself like, Oh, I didn’t know that I had anger in my heart—until I became a mom.”

And what I realized is, “No, I actually had murder in my heart! I’m that wicked!” I am wicked apart from Jesus, and apart from Him exposing my wickedness. Without Him giving me the Word as a mirror by which I can rightly see myself, I would never see my own wickedness . . . but I sure would fixate on the wickedness of other people.

We know who wrote this psalm. It was David, you know, David the murderer, David the adulterer. Wickedness was not just something outside of his house; it was not just something inside of his house—it was something inside of his heart! 

It’s like everything else in the Christian life. We wish we got a checklist; we wish it was very easy to define. But what we do know is that each of us has wickedness inside of our own hearts, and that we also need to call wicked what is wicked according to God’s Word.

I don’t do that perfectly. I don’t know how we do that perfectly, but Scripture does talk about wickedness a lot, and maybe we start by paying attention there.

Portia: Yeah. As I see David crying out to God to save him from the evildoers—and this might be a stretch, but you know—what I hear, too is, “Save me from me, God!” It is so easy to say that the change that needs to happen to make things better is outside of ourselves, but oftentimes it’s not.

Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t change outside of ourselves that needs to happen. Absolutely there is! But in many cases, it’s in us, the rage is in us—the fits of anger, the dissension, the jealousy, the disunity, it’s in us. So when I hear David saying that, it really resonates with me. I say, “Lord, save me from me!”

Erin: You know, we have this phrase we throw around in Christendom, which is, “When did you get saved?” To which I think, Which time!? Not that I have to keep surrendering my life to the Lord, that is taken care of. But He rescues me over and over.

I have to come back to the gospel over and over, because I am discouraged by my own wickedness, I am! And I am discouraged by the wickedness of these times, and I am discouraged by the wickedness that exists in the hearts of the people I love.

But what the gospel says is that Jesus loved us enough to take on the punishment we deserved because we are wicked people, we are! So that we could be rescued ultimately, but also so that we could be made new creations and wickedness could have its way in our lives less and less and righteousness could have its way in our lives more and more.

So, “Save me from me!” is a gospel prayer that gets answered in Jesus! You know what we see in this psalm is that David said, “God, rescue me with Your sword, God!” David didn’t go after the wicked. And you know, if somebody is wicked in your life, another way to think of them is probably as an enemy.

And Scripture does tell us how to relate to our enemies. It’s to pray for them and to love them and to ask Jesus to intervene. And you know what we do for wicked people? We give them a show on television, and we all sit and munch our popcorn and watch the chaos of their lives and joke about it.

I don’t believe that’s the way that God asks us in His Word to respond to the wicked! Not to be entertained by it, and not to hope ill for that person. But if a person is being driven by wickedness, they have a great need for Jesus. I can promise you, their life is disastrous! Because without the Lord, we just run from one empty thing to another empty thing after another empty thing.

So as you’ve been listening to this episode and we’ve been talking about the wicked being gone in a little while and somebody keeps coming to your mind, and you keep thinking, “Man, I can’t wait ’til they’re gone in a little while! I can’t wait for, like the psalm said, you look there one minute and they’re gone! Where did they go?!” I would encourage you to pray for them, to look for opportunities to show grace to them.

I’m not saying that what they’re doing isn’t wicked, I’m not asking you to compromise, but I am asking you to approach them in ways that show them there is a better way. That way is Jesus.

Portia: It’s interesting, because Psalm 73 is specifically talking about God as the Vindicator. He’s talking about the wicked, but he says, “God’s ways vindicate.” That just reminds me when we think about the wicked, we literally pray in a way that we entrust them to God.

So, “Lord, if it is Your will, save this person and turn them from their path of wickedness and put them on the right path.” But if that’s not, if there’s no repentance or no change there, then we can rest assured that God is still going to vindicate Himself and His people against every wicked person and against all wicked situations.

Erin: Yes, when I think of “wicked,” there is a family member in my life that comes to mind, and “wicked” is a right description of her. She has abused (and I know that’s a loaded word, but that is an accurate word in this situation) several of us over a period of a long time and caused tremendous pain and heartache!

I do pray for her. Now, about all I can get myself to pray is, “Jesus, intervene in her life and help me to not be bitter.” That’s about all I can pray. But I do that faithfully, and that is me trusting God to deal with the wicked, because really in my flesh, I’d rather pray that harm would come to her . . . and I don’t pray that.I pray for God’s intervention, and that is me saying, “God, she is wicked. She has done wickedness to me, but I trust that You will deal with it!”

Portia: So, ultimately, we know that wickedness will be dealt with when Jesus returns.

Erin: Oh Portia, we’ve got our Kleenex box right here, because we’re going to need it in this final episode as we talk about exactly that!

Portia: Join us next time on the Deep Well.

The Deep Well is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ!

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.


 

In a Little While, Episode 5 from the Deep Well - Revive Our Hearts podcast transcript; Erin Davis, Portia Collins-slw

Portia Collins: Have you ever been jealous of . . . evildoers? And I hate to say it that way, but that’s the way the Bible describes it. 

Erin Davis: I have! Do you know where my jealousy seems to be directed? Their big homes, which means there are big incomes attached to those big homes. And you know, I like where I live, but I sure would like to have granite countertops . . . an inground pool . . .

And I’m not saying that everybody who has a nice, fancy house is an evildoer, but I can look at those who seem to have earned their income in ways that lack integrity and feel jealous at the end result!

Portia: Welcome to The Deep Well with Erin Davis, a podcast from Revive Our Hearts. I’m Portia Collins. We’re back in Season 4 for this awesome teaching on the little phrase, “in a little while.” Do you ever feel jealous of evildoers? Well, today we’re going to talk about it. Here’s Erin.

Erin: What makes God laugh? I think the answer is going to surprise you! Before we get to the laughter of God, we need to talk about something less pleasant: the wickedness of man. Because, believe it or not, those two themes are connected.

Now Wickedis not a word we throw around much unless we’re talking about the production on Broadway. But it’s a word that the Bible uses a lot. . .like a lot, a lot. . .hundreds of times, actually. And here on the Deep Well, I like to talk about lots of different ways to grow our appetites for Scripture, to approach our Bibles in new ways, to see it with fresh eyes.

And one way [to do that] is to pay attention to the words and phrases that get repeated. This whole season we’re looking for the phrase, “in a little while” in Scripture, and in this episode we’re going to find it in Psalm 37 and Revelation 20.

But first, let’s get our heads wrapped around what wickedness is. For that, we need to head to a different psalm, Psalm 17. Let me read you Psalm 17, verses 13 through 15. These words are a prayer written by King David.

“Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.” [vv.13-14]

“As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” [vs. 15] David was praying a bold and vulnerable prayer asking God to deliver him from wicked men. But what makes someone wicked?

Well, he spelled it out in verse 14; he said, “Deliver me from men of the world whose portion is in this life.” Now, wickedness is not reserved to men; certainly there are wicked women. But David must have had specific men in mind, because he uses that word here in this prayer. And these are not godly men.

These are worldly men; he said it right there, “. . .men of the world whose portion is in this life.” These are not men seeking God’s eternal kingdom, these are men seeking their own little earthly kingdoms. They’re not men storing up riches in Heaven. David said their portion is in this life. They are men who are taking what they can; they’re going to get while the getting is good!

So we contrast the wicked with the righteous in verse 15. David’s talking about himself and he says, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I [will] be satisfied with your likeness.” So the righteous turn toward God. We’re satisfied in Him. 

It would be an oversimplification to say that the wicked are sinners and the righteous are not, because we’re all sinners! But the wicked persist in their rebellion against God. There’s no Holy Spirit living inside of them to direct them, there’s no allegiance to the Word of God as the source of truth to live out, there’s no people of God to hold them accountable.

We only need to scroll through our news feeds for a few seconds to see that without God, the wicked wreak absolute havoc in our lives and in our world! And here, in Psalm 17, David prayed for God to protect him, to deliver him from the wicked.

It’s in Psalm 37 where we find the words we’ve been searching for, “in a little while,” and David slipped into teacher mode. . .and this lesson, what was it about? It was about how to live righteously among the wicked.

I’m going to take a wild guess that, this morning, you did not write, “Deliver my soul from the wicked,” by your “Sword” [Bible] in your prayer journal.But did you wonder how to raise kids who believe God’s truth in a world that’s peddling “my truth?” 

Did you look at the political landscape and see nothing but partisanism and corruption and wonder how much longer God’s people can thrive in an environment that’s toxic? Did you try to watch TV with your family and did you start and stop several shows before turning it off altogether, but only after being exposed to several murders or sex scenes. . .or both? 

Do you feel sad, afraid, disgusted, anxious or downright angry about the trajectory of morality in our day? Then you have felt what David felt. As Christians who believe there is such a thing as right and wrong in a world that peddles moral relativism. . .

. . .as Christians who have to face the fact over and over and over that we are not the home team, and that wickedness seems to have recruited all the talent, all the money, all the power. . .how does “in a little while” speak into our feeling that wickedness is winning. . .that the front of darkness keeps moving closer and closer toward us?

It’s moving toward our children, it’s moving toward our churches. And we worry--I worry!--that it’s going to infiltrate our own hearts. Let me show you an answer. It comes from Psalm 37:10. There King David wrote: “In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.”

Did you hear it? What is this passage promising will happen in a little while? In just a little while, the wicked will be no more. How can this be true? Within one generation of the Garden of Eden, brother was murdering brother. 

The face of the earth seems to produce no end of violent criminals and power-hungry political leaders and vile entertainment options. Three dozen countries are involved in military conflict right this very moment in forty different wars. How can it be true that in just a little while the wicked will be no more? That we’ll look and they’ll just be gone?!. . .when there’s so much wickedness. . .

. . .and when wickedness has gone on so long!. . .and it seems to be growing? How can what David wrote here in Psalm 37, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit--how can it be true? Keep reading; the Bible is a deep well! 

Skip ahead to Psalm 37:13, and we get the answer to the question, “What makes God laugh?”: “. . .but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.” What makes God laugh? Well, probably among other things, the plans of the wicked, because they think their sin is not going to find them out.

And God knows, even if we forget, that wickedness has an expiration date! I want you to turn with me to the book of Revelation; we’re going to be in Revelation chapter 20. Verses 2-3 say this: “[v. 2] And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. . .”

“[v. 3]. . .and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.” 

Now I don’t know where you land on the timeline of end times. There are lots of different theories about the timing of all of this. Frankly, I don’t know where I land fully on the timing of end times events. Is this something that is going to happen? Is this something that has already happened? When is the thousand years?

There are really smart Bible scholars on both sides. I’m comfortable landing with the confidence that God has given me the wisdom to understand exactly what I need to understand for right now. And as I read these verses in Revelation 20, one thing is crystal clear: [vs. 3] “After that he [Satan] must be released for. . .a. . .little. . .while.” 

Now, I think the fear in us tends to gravitate towards the release date: “When is Satan going to get released?” But what Scripture calls us to do is to force our faith to focus on the fact that he’s only going to be released “for a little while.” Satan has a term limit, which means wickedness has a term limit.

It means evil has a term limit, darkness has a term limit, and it’s only going to last for a little while longer. We’ve seen it over and over. Every time the phrase “in a little while” appears in our Bibles, there are two timelines. There’s the lower timeline: what we see--or rather--what we see shadows of.

We can’t see into the future, so we can’t know everything that Revelation 20 is trying to tell us. We can’t even fully remember the past. All we can see is the little dot on the timeline where we currently sit. And, even then, we only have our perspective. So, if we’re honest, we don’t--we can’t--have a very good grasp of time. 

And because of that, it feels like, to us, that wickedness has run amok for a very, very long time unchecked. . .and that wickedness might run amok indefinitely. But there’s an upper timeline, where God is at work, and He’s not just at work in one direction--or even two, frontward and backward--He’s at work in every direction!

And when God sees the eternal scope of time, He inspired the writers of Scripture to say the devil will be released, but only for a little while. . .and in just a little while, the wicked will be no more. Though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. 

Let’s go back to Psalm 37. Understanding what David said in verse 10, which is that the wicked won’t last forever, I want you to make a list. No, really! I want you to make a list based on these verses. Listen to how David encourages us to live. He spells it out in pretty clear language in Psalm 37:1-9.

[Psalm 37:1-2:] “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” If you’re making a list, Number 1: Fret not; Number 2: Don’t envy! Pick it up at verse 2: “For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.”

Verse 3: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” Don’t you love that phrase, “Befriend faithfulness”? And what a good friend faithfulness to God is! The footnotes in my Bible offer a couple of alternate translations: “Feed on faithfulness,” (you are what you eat!), and “find safe pasture.”

Faithfulness to God--to His Word, to His ways--it is a safe pasture, even if it seems like all the fun is happening over at the rodeo. Verses 4-5, “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.”

[vv. 6-7]: “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”

[vv. 8-9]: “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself [third time in eight verses!]; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.”

How do the righteous live in a wicked world? How do we thrive in this time period of “in a little while?” That’s where we live, we’re in the “a little while” before wickedness is no more! It’s not rhetorical, it’s not just some theory; it’s not abstract.

David tells us, “Don’t fret! Don’t envy those who do wrong and seem to prosper.” We trust God, we do good, we find our delight in Jesus instead of despairing in the headlines. And when we feel all worked up about the wickedness of our world, we get really, really still in God’s presence. We run away from anger, we resist wrath.

David said it three times, so I will too: we fret not, we fret not, we fret not. . .and as we keep reading through that psalm, if we want to be like God we laugh, we keep our joy. . .because we know the Day of the Lord is coming, and the wicked will not last forever.

Because, “in just a little while, the wicked will be no more!” I want you to sink your feet into that like concrete. . .because in just a little while the wicked will be no more, we don’t have to fret. . .we can delight in the Lord, we can be still.

One thing I love about the Bible is that it gets my attention off of my current reality. This present darkness is dark! Satan is the prince of our day. Ephesians 2:2 calls him “the prince of the power of the air,” but he sure isn’t the King of All Time. It’s only Jesus Who sits on that throne. 

So, through the lens of Scripture, we can look at the wickedness of our day with resolve, knowing that this is the day that the Lord has made [Psalm 118:24], not the day that the enemy has made. What can save us from wickedness? Not the courts or the police--at least not fully--not political change, not moral shift. Those things are good. They’re not God.

Through His Word, God gives us a greater hope: “In just a little while the wicked will be no more. Though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.”

Portia: Wow! Erin, I got so much out of that teaching, and it resonates with me because--honestly--I have been jealous of evildoers.

Erin: Tell me about it!

Portia: So you focused on Psalm 37, but I often read Psalm 73, and this is where God is talking about He’s going to vindicate those who are His. And you know, as I was listening to you teach, it was just [sighs: Ohh!] I felt like really running into my mind of how though it may seem as if evildoers are prospering now and that things are easy [for them], God is not oblivious, you know?

His ways. . .we don’t have to fret what’s going on around us, what they’re doing. . .we don’t have to worry about if God is going to get it right. He’s going to get it right!. . .in a little while.

Erin: Mmm, that’s so good.

Portia: Yes. You’re teaching from Psalm 37, but as you were teaching, I was reminded of a couple verses from Psalm 73, specifically where the psalmist says in verses 24-25 [NIV]: “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire [but] you.” 

So I guess I want to draw a line from that verse back to the concept of what we’re seeing in Psalm 37 about delighting in how, really ultimately, our ultimate desires are fulfilled, and the fullness of that is realized in our delight in God. The innermost part of what it is that we think we want and all the things that we’re grabbing at in life, ultimately we find that only through God, and our delight in Him. 

Erin: That’s so true! I mentioned being envious of those who are able to get more material wealth by means of wickedness than I can. But that doesn’t mean they’re satisfied. That doesn’t mean their delight is in the Lord; it’s not, if they earned it by way of wickedness.

That passage, Psalm 37, is where we get that verse [v. 4] that we love to quote [ESV]: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” And I love that you took us to Psalm 73, because those are two sides of the same thought. . .

. . .not, delight myself in the Lord and He’s going to give me the mansion with the granite countertops and the inground pool, but I delight myself in the Lord and He gives me the Lord!. . .you know, He gives me more of Himself.

Portia: Which is ultimately what we need. . .

Erin: It’s what we’re craving.

Portia: Exactly! It’s what we’re created for. . .even when we don’t even know it.

Erin: That’s right, and any attempt to satisfy those longings with something, anything, other than Jesus (we could name any number of things that the wicked might be pursuing) is going to be hollow. So, really, who’s rich? The wicked or the righteous?

Portia: The righteous.

Erin: Portia, we’re both mamas. You have one three-year-old, I’ve got four--teenager to toddler--and really, I don’t think about wickedness a whole lot except for in the context of parenting. As you parent your little girl, what worries you about the wickedness of the world?

Portia: The negative influence. There are a lot of things that I can control, but I can’t control the wicked! And I am so--I don’t want to say “fearful,” because I know the Lord has not given me a spirit of fear [2 Timothy 1:7], but. . . 

Erin: “Watchful!” We’re watchful as mamas, aren’t we? 

Portia: Right! We’re watchful and we are concerned. I almost feel a little bit like a little watchdog, like I’m just waiting to block something or to knock it out of the way so that she’s not hit by it or influenced by it.

So I think that is a huge concern for me, is not allowing wickedness to be the primary influence for my daughter.

Erin: Yes, and there’s probably some pride in this statement, but I have some confidence. . .because I’ve been a Christian for twenty-five years, I am reading my Bible, I am involved in church, I know I have the Holy Spirit. I have some confidence that when wickedness comes at me, I’ll be able to recognize it.

But my children are young, they’re at various points in their own walk with Jesus; they’re immature in every way possible: their bodies are immature, their minds are immature, their hearts are immature, their spiritual lives are immature.So I do get more watchful about the influence of wickedness in their lives.

I can’t just put them in a box and nail the top closed and not have the world have any influence over them. So when David prayed, “Lord, save me from these wicked men!”--the way that that relates to my life is, “Lord, protect my children from wickedness!”--and so I can relate to the way David prayed.

Portia: You know, I never want my daughter to grow weary of doing good, doing well. I don’t want her to think that the Christian life is just lost. So sometimes when I see wickedness, and it appears it is seemingly conveying a message of prosperity, it makes me want to make sure that I’m teaching her that, “No, that’s not real prosperity, that’s not real goodness.”

“And I don’t want the Christian life to be lost on you when you think, ‘Why am I even walking in this way? Why am I choosing to follow Jesus?’” 

Erin: Yes, the grass seems greener on the other side.

Portia: Exactly! I want her to know that there is an eternal hope. And there is a reward! I think we forget that there is a reward that we will be able to lay claim to in Heaven. So, I never want her to think that the way of wickedness is the best way or the blessed way, because it’s not.

Erin [agrees]: I also don’t want my children to think, “All Christians are good and all non-Christians are to be feared.” That’s an extreme application, maybe, of what we have been reading. Non-Christians need Jesus, so if we avoid them all outright because of fear that they might infiltrate us in some way, then who’s going to take the gospel to the lost?

So, it takes multiple conversations; it takes a bigger view of God and a bigger view of people than just putting people into two groups. But, while they’re little--and probably beyond (I haven’t raised kids beyond the age of thirteen)--I think it takes us being watchful. But wickedness can appear really like a path that people want to take.

Portia: We know that wickedness is literally everywhere, but there is often a tendency to divide into these different groups--political groups, social groups--and the issue is we want to ascribe wickedness to those who are standing on the opposite side of the fence. 

But there is a danger if we don’t even recognize the wickedness that is in our own group. Talk to me a little about how you wrestle with the temptation to just see wickedness as “those folks over there.”

Erin: Right, well it’s “plank-eye syndrome” [from Luke 6:42, etc.], that wickedness is something that “you are, you do,” and not something that I am or I do. So we tend to minimize our own wickedness and inflate somebody else’s wickedness. . .

. . .OR. . .the other thing we do is we don’t call things wicked that are actually wicked. We dance around it. But I am wicked in my heart, that’s why I need Jesus so much! I’ll sometimes talk to moms, or I’ve thought this myself like, “Oh, I didn’t know that I had anger in my heart until I became a mom.”

And what I realized is, “No, I actually had murder in my heart! I’m that wicked!” I am wicked apart from Jesus, and apart from Him exposing my wickedness, Him giving me the Word as a mirror by which I can rightly see myself, I would never see my own wickedness. . .but I sure would fixate on the wickedness of other people. [Portia agrees.]

We know who wrote this psalm. It was David, you know, David the murderer, David the adulterer. . .so wickedness was not just something outside of his house--it was not just something inside of his house--it was something inside of his heart! 

So, it’s like everything else in the Christian life. We wish we got a checklist, we wish it was very easy to define. But what we do know is that each of us has wickedness inside of our own hearts, and that we also need to call wicked what is wicked according to God’s Word. 

I don’t do that perfectly, I don’t know how we do that perfectly, but Scripture does talk about wickedness a lot, and maybe we start by paying attention there.

Portia: Yeah. As I see David crying out to God to save him from the evildoers--and this might be a stretch, but you know--what I hear, too is, “Save me from me, God!” It is so easy to say that the change that needs to happen to make things better is outside of ourselves [Erin agrees], but oftentimes it’s not.

Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t change outside of ourselves that needs to happen. Absolutely [there is]! [Erin: Sure.] But in many cases, it’s in us, the rage is in us. . .the fits of anger, the dissension, the jealousy, the disunity, it’s in us. [Erin: It is in us.] So when I hear David saying that, it really resonates with me and I say, “Lord, save me from me!”

Erin: You know, we have this phrase we throw around in Christendom, which is, “When did you get saved?”--to which I think, “Which time!?” Not that I have to keep surrendering my life to the Lord, that is taken care of. But He rescues me over and over.

And I have to come back to the gospel over and over, because I am discouraged by my own wickedness, I am! And I am discouraged by the wickedness of these times and I am discouraged by the wickedness that exists in the hearts of the people I love.

But what the gospel says is that Jesus loved us enough to take on the punishment we deserved--because we are wicked people, we are!--so that we could be rescued ultimately, but also so that we could be made new creations and wickedness could have its way in our lives less and less. . .and righteousness could have its way in our lives more and more.

So, “Save me from me!” is a gospel prayer that gets answered in Jesus! You know what we see in this psalm, is David said, “God, rescue me with Your sword, God!” David didn’t go after the wicked. And you know, if somebody is wicked in your life, another way to think of them is probably as an enemy.

And Scripture does tell us how to relate to our enemies. It’s to pray for them and to love them to and to ask Jesus to intervene. And, you know what we do for wicked people? We give them a show on television and we all sit and munch our popcorn and watch the chaos of their lives and joke about it.

I don’t believe that’s the way that God asks us in His Word to respond to the wicked! Not to be entertained by it and not to hope ill for that person, but if a person is being driven by wickedness, they have a great need for Jesus. . .

. . .and I can promise you, their life is disastrous! Because without the Lord, we just run from one empty thing to another empty thing after another empty thing. So, as you’ve been listening to this episode and we’ve been talking about the wicked being gone in a little while. . .

. . .and somebody keeps coming to your mind, and you keep thinking, “Man, I can’t wait ‘til they’re gone in a little while! I can’t wait for, like the psalm said, you look there one minute, and they’re gone! Where did they go?!” I would encourage you to pray for them, to look for opportunities to show grace to them. . .

. . .not saying that what they’re doing isn’t wicked, I’m not asking you to compromise, but I am asking you to approach them in ways that show them there is a better way. That way is Jesus.

Portia: It’s interesting, because Psalm 73 is specifically talking about God as the Vindicator. He’s talking about the wicked, but he says, “God’s ways vindicate. . .” and so that just reminds me when we think about the wicked, we literally pray in a way that we entrust them to God.

So, “Lord, if it is Your will, save this person and turn them from their path of wickedness and put them on the right path.” But if that’s not, if there’s no repentance or no change there, then we can rest assured that God is still going to vindicate Himself and His people against every wicked person and against all wicked situations.

Erin: Yes, when I think of “wicked,” there is a family member in my life that comes to mind, and “wicked” is a right description of her. She has abused (and I know that’s a loaded word, but that is an accurate word in this situation) several of us over a period of a long time and caused tremendous pain and heartache!

And I do pray for her. Now, about all I can get myself to pray is, “Jesus, intervene in her life and help me to not be bitter.” That’s about all I can pray. But I do that faithfully, and that is me trusting God to deal with the wicked, because really in my flesh I’d rather pray that harm would come to her. . .and I don’t pray that.

I pray for God’s intervention, and that is me saying, “God, she is wicked, she has done wickedness to me, but I trust that You will deal with it!”

Portia: So, ultimately, we know that wickedness will be dealt with when Jesus returns. . .

Erin:Ohhh, Portia, we’ve got our Kleenex box right here, because we’re going to need it in this final episode as we talk about exactly that!

Portia: Join us next time on the Deep Well. The Deep Well is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ!

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Teacher

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

About the Host

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta.