Why Do the Wicked Prosper

Why Do the Wicked Prosper?

Sometimes, it feels as though living right is the wrong thing to do. Our world is full of self-absorbed people who cheat and oppress others with no apparent consequences. Meanwhile, the lives of virtuous people seem to overflow with hardship.  God, it appears, looks the other way.

If the prosperity of selfish people bothers you, you’re not alone. Nor are you the first to be confused by God’s apparent lack of concern.

Through the years, I have found both insight and comfort by reading Psalms 37 and 73. Appearances, the Psalmists tell us, are deceiving.

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalms 37:1-4 (NASB)

Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart!
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Psalms 73:1-3 (NASB)

Why?” is a question we’re all compelled to ask from time to time, but it’s important to understand that we all will one day answer to God.

Sometimes, the Lord of the Universe allows people virtually free reign to follow their selfish and prideful desires. In doing so, they build a formidable case against themselves for the Day of Judgment.

Genesis 15 records an interesting interaction between God and Abram (Abraham)—one of the key fathers of our faith.

As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:15-16 (NASB)

People are often repulsed by the Old Testament stories of judgment commanded by God against the people of Canaan.  They fail to realize the wicked depths—including child sacrifice—to which the Amorites had sunk. Their free choices—not any cruelty on God’s part—were their undoing.

Uncaring, absent, and ignorant—none of these words can be used to describe the Creator of the Universe. He is, on the other hand, exceedingly patient.

As long as we have breath, God’s redemptive arms are open wide. But if we refuse to turn from our pride to live on His terms, our time on earth will have been spent building the case file for our own judgment.


photo credit: “I was walking among the fires of Hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity” – William Blake via photopin (license)