Psalms 47:1.---' Fret not thyself because of evildoers.'

When the Psalmist tells us not to 'fret' ourselves because of evildoers, he certainly does not mean to encourage a spirit of the indifference to the prevalence of evil. That would be utterly contrary to the whole spirit of this Divine revelation. The struggle of right against wrong, of God against our enemy, is the burden of the history of Israel, and the essential meaning of the incarnation and crucifixion of the Son of God. Indeed, we need look no further than the Psalms to find the strongest expressions of determination to fight against evil in all forms. Such as this in the 75th Psalm, for example: The horns of the wicked will I cut off.' Neither in our text nor elsewhere in the Bible shall we discovered any excuse for the policy of laissezfair, which is popular with some who would believe leave vice at home, and heathenism abroad, unrebuked and unwarned.

The Hebrew word translated 'fret' occurs only here and in Prov. 34:19, where we read, 'Fret not thyself because of evil men.' Be not incensed against wicked men. The warning is not directed against righteous anger, but against a discontented and bitter spirit, causing hatred to men and revolt against God. It is much the temper into which the Psalmist confesses that he fell, when in the 73rd Psalm he says, 'I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicket!' The root of sin lies in discontent with what God has ordained, or in disbelief that anything is ordained, in the feeling that things are not controlled by a God who has regard for right and for mercy.

First let us see who the evil doers are. In the Psalm itself the wickedness of the wicked is placed before us and most vivid and lurid colors.

[1] He has no reverence for the right.---He bows before no august moral ideal. There's no hill country in the vision of his soul. If he has seen the uplifted heights of moral rectitude he has turned his back upon them, as in old times the Swiss built their houses with their backs to the Alps. Now when men lose their reverence for a thing they are apt to acquire resentment for the thing and for those who possess it. That is a most subtle tendency, if indeed it is not the expression of a moral law. Lose your love, and love itself becomes hateful. Lose your virtue, and virtue itself becomes repellent. And this wicked man of the Psalms resents the righteous. 'He gnasheth upon him with his teeth.' The renegade from the right, he hates and persecutes the righteous. And resentment is accompanied by malicious plot and enterprise. He seeks the overthrow of the righteous. 'He plotteth against the just.' Powers become debased when life is unhallowed. When the moral ideal has faded from the soul, the highest powers become as dirt to him. Imagination itself can become a groundling. The ingenious can become the merely ingenious, scheming and plotting against the just.

[2] He has no chivalry towards the defenseless.---'He cast down the poor and needy.' We cannot lose reverence for the highest and retain our reverence for the lowest. No man can violate conscience and retain his sympathy. We cannot maim our manhood and preserve our humanity. If life loses its height it will also lose its breadth. If piety wither, pity will droop away. If reverence be smitten, chivalry will die.

[3] He has no respect for moral covenants.---'He borroweth and payeth not again.' That surely goes without saying. The men who has no sense of right will have no regard for rights. If there be no chivalry, there will be no fidelity. Other people will be esteemed as instruments to be used, fields to be exploited, pawns to be moved about in a selfish game. This man's word is not his bond; it is only the trifle of the hour, to be flung aside the next hour if selfish purpose demands it. His covenant is not a holy pledge, it is only a loose convenience.

Such is the man described in this Psalm. He is a irreverent, unchivalrous, callous and numb. And this man climbs into the high places, and attains the comforts and privileges of a successful life. He wields a great influence. He is 'in great power.' He is a leader, a despot, a tyrant. He climbs into prominent places; no 'climbs' is scarcely the word to describe his advance. The way seems to be open to him, and he is offered the uppermost seats at the feast. And he fills a great space, 'spreading himself like a green bay tree.' He is like some wide-spreading tree, sucking up to itself all the resources of the immediate surroundings and leaving all other growth pinched and starved. He crowds other growths out, and he flaunts his arms in insensitive pride! We have all known him; we have all seen him; some perhaps have felt him. What a spread he makes! And yet his soul is steeped in wickedness, and the way of his life is like a torturous and deceitful road. That is the problem---vice in purple, virtue and rags.

Now what counsel does the Psalmist give us in face of this problem? First of all he describes certain moods as altogether unhelpful to a solution. And preeminently he discourages fretfulness. It is not unsuggestive that a Psalm dealing with this great problem should begin with this sentence---'Fret not.' It must be because fretting can be the prolific parent of exceedingly terrible issues. And so it can, and the darkening order is traced in the Psalm. Fretfulness drains the nervous forces of life. Small frets can impoverished the life as much as a great anxiety. Fretfulness is the leakage of life's force at a hundred points. And then, secondly, fretfulness leads to irritableness and blind anger. 'Cease from anger and forsake wrath.' Who does not know that fretful men and women make themselves incapable of calm and steady judgment? They become highly sensitive, and their powers are incompetent to measure the scales of things. And thirdly, blind wrath leads to participation in the very things it condemns. 'Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.' That is a very significant word; we begin by fretting at another man's evil, and we and by increasing the very evil we deplore. So we are counselled to put fretfulness aside.

But the Psalmist proceeds to give two positive counsels: First take long views. We're first of all to exercise our sight over wider areas and seek the solution at a longer range of thought and outlook. There is always a peril of thinking in narrow and limited fields. We may very fruitfully extend the application of the counsel. Many of us are impoverished by thinking in inches will we ought to think in miles; we think in moments when we ought to think in generations. We are bidden to turn this larger-ranged thinking to the prosperity of the wicked. How does it fair? Take your stand at 70 years old; how does the wicked arrive at that remote post? Go beyond that; go far beyond that, and how stands the judgment? Turn to this Psalm and listen to those verses whose refrains are like the guns in the Dead March, proclaiming the doom of the wicked: 'Yet a little while and the wicked shall not be.' 'The seed of the wicked shall be cut off.' 'Yet he passed away, and lo! he was not.' 'The end of the wicked shall be cut off.' Take the long view. And take the same long view in regard to the righteous. How does the fare at the end of the long day? What about the serenity when the journey is completed? 'Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the latter end of that man is peace.'

'Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him,' says the Psalmist; 'you will see the devices of the wicked perish and the meek inherit the earth.' You'll say, It does not look like it. I answer, It looks remarkably like it, if we 'believe what the years and the centuries say against the hours.' A modern writer draws a suggestive illustration from what is happening in the animal kingdom. He points out that the savage, intractable beasts of the world are being gradually exterminated as the wild districts are subdued, while those that prove themselves capable of entering into friendly cooperation with man survive and enter upon a new inheritance. So the tiger and the lion tend to disappear, while the horse, the ox, and the dog are permanent. And this because they have the capacity of helpful association with a higher kingdom. Is it not precisely the same thing that is happening in the human world? It is not through the brute qualities that nation's survive. The bully goes under. Arrogance and aggression bring their own Nemesis. To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with God---that is the sum of all political wisdom.

And the second part of the Psalmist counsel is that we should take deep views. We are bidden to look beneath the surface of things, and to fix our regard upon qualities rather than quantities. 'The meek shall inherit the earth.' Is that really true? Is there an inheritance of which the banking account can give no estimate? Which had the greater inheritance, Dives or Christ, Nero or Paul, Napoleon or Wordsworth? One man may own the pictures while another has the artistic appreciation. One man may possess the estate while another owns the landscape. One man may have comforts while another man has comfort and peace. 'The little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.' When we take the deep view we have access into another world, were classifications are entirely reversed.

There have been great men who saved India for us, missionaries sent from the Lord, the Lawrences of their kind, all had this world-building and earth-inheriting quality, which the Bible calls 'meekness.' They were men 'under authority,' under law to a Higher than themselves. And that is why their work endures. The truth is that the brute in man is in process of extermination. To 'move upward, working out the beast,' is the way to survival. There is no other adequate interpretation of the world's history. Such are the comfort and hope that are ours if we have power to look beneath the surface. Let us have faith in God. He 'comes in' and in the deepest and most fundamental way. The world, after all, is His world, and the man who will keep and deserve to keep his place in it will be increasingly the man who lets God have his way with him---who is content to seek a higher end than his own.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha