27The fear of the Lord prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. 28The hope of the righteous will be gladness, But the expectation of the wicked will perish. 29The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity. 30The righteous will never be removed, But the wicked will not inhabit the earth.
What is the key to long life and fruitfulness? This is a pressing question that our generation continues to ask. However, because we have turned away from the Living God, our answers are many and vacuous. We suggest that the key is public education, or sexual liberation, or social justice, or state funded health care, or confiscatory taxation, or particular diets, or essential oils, or violating our marriage oaths. In our polytheistic culture, everyone seems to have their own answer.
But Solomon tells us that the correct answer is the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord prolongs days. It is the one who hopes in the Lord that will experience gladness; the one who walks in the Lord’s ways, observing His moral law, that will be strong; the one who listens to the Word of God and implements it, that will never be moved. As David teaches us to sing in Psalm 1 – Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord…he shall be like a tree planted by streams of living water, which yields its fruit in its season and does not wither. The key to long life and fruitfulness is the fear of the Lord for the righteous has an everlasting foundation. When the winds blow and the rains fall, it is the one who builds his house on the rock, who hears the words of Christ and does them, who will stand. Indeed, even if he perishes in this life, he knows that when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, he will be raised eternal and will serve the Lord in gladness forever. The fear of the Lord prolongs days.
So what is it that will bring death and desolation? Is it climate change, overpopulation, intolerance and discrimination, sexual repression, an unhappy marriage, poverty, capitalism, processed foods, vaccinations? Solomon tells us that the correct answer is wickedness: the years of the wicked will be shortened, his expectation will perish. The one who works iniquity, who violates God’s moral law, will be destroyed and will not inherit the earth. As David teaches us to sing in Psalm 1 – The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. Though the wicked may prosper for a time, God will bring their plans and expectations to naught. He will destroy them and the earth will vomit them out. They are like a foolish man who builds his house upon sand – when the rains and floods come, his house will be destroyed. And this destruction will reach its culmination when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead. The wicked will be judged according to the things written in the books and they will perish eternally. The years of the wicked will be shortened.
So where have you placed your hope for long life? What do your habits and passions reveal about your beliefs? Have you been distracted by the cacophany of voices surrounding us? Or have you remained centered on the answer that Solomon gives? Is the majority of your time devoted to knowing and serving God, to understanding His moral law and obeying His precepts, or have you become distracted by other things? Where have you placed your hope?
Reminded that righteousness is the key to long life and fruitfulness, and that wickedness brings destruction, let us confess that as Americans we have abandoned the living God and embraced wickedness, and let us confess that we, the Church in America, have become confused by the foolish answers given by our neighbors. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin. As we confess our sins to the Lord, let us kneel together as you are able.