David in this psalm encourages God’s people not to overact because of the apparent prosperity of sinful people – after all their success will not last for ever (vv. 1-2). Instead they are to live a different kind of life marked by trusting in God.
The psalmist gives four examples of the life of faith and attaches a specific blessing to each example. Faith is trust in God which works itself out in a good life that shares in God’s provision; faith is delight in God and is rewarded with sweet fellowship with him (believers get what they delight in); faith is placing oneself in God’s hand and leaving events to him; and faith is calmness in God’s presence, aware that he will work things out (vv. 3-7).
So God’s people are not to focus on the evil around them. If they do, they will become angry and upset, and these responses may lead to distrust in God. They must remind themselves that, however long the dominance of sinners may seem, it is limited and eventually will be gone. Despite the current ascendancy of sin, the actual outcome will be the eternal happiness of God’s people in his presence (vv. 8-11).
Therefore, instead of thinking about the sins of society, they should think about God. How does he estimate the power of the wicked? He laughs (their rebellion is contemptible when compared to his power), and eventually he will destroy them and their creations (vv. 12-17). In contrast, he takes care of his people and will ensure that they have an eternal inheritance (vv. 18-22). He leads them by the hand each step of the way and even ensures that their families will be a source of blessing (vv. 23-26). The wise response to these two different outcomes is to turn away from evil and do good because this is the only way to inherit God’s kingdom (vv. 27-29).
How will a person who turns away from evil be identified? By his wise and just speech, which comes from the fact that the law of the law is written on his heart, keeping him on the right path (vv. 30-31). Often he will receive divine help in difficult situations (vv. 32-33). Therefore he should have confidence that the God who helps him in the present will give him an eternal home (v. 34).
So David wants us to judge things by the eternal outcome. Temporary security is of no value in comparison to eternal exaltation. Instead, we should live a holy life and then enjoy the beautiful future that God will provide for his people. Even if they have to live for a short time in a dangerous situation, the Lord takes care of them (vv. 35-40).
It is obvious that the wicked don’t hold on to their dominance – every cemetery in the country testifies to the fact that eventually the lives of good and bad come to an end. What matters is what happens after this life is over. The righteous have a wonderful future, and it will be ours if we trust in Jesus.