The Cycle identifies not only how human nature succumbs to temptations, disobedience and disunity, but it also provides valuable guidance on how to avoid personal disunity.
Spotting a spirit of deceit is not usually obvious at first. David says:
“I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree” (37:35, ESV).
Whether at work or in the local church, we have seen people come in with a flourish of what appears to be good will, only to learn too late that this behavior is a cover for trouble-making and disunity. We have also seen the opposite – a good person full of humble dedication who runs into a stone wall put up by the existing leadership, who fear loss of power and influence.
David offers great advice under the heading of “do not fret,” that is, do not worry. First, do not be envious when you see a “wrongdoer” maneuvering for power and influence (37:1). Then, rather than attacking, be still and wait for the Lord (37:7), as hard as it may seem. Then refrain from anger and forsake wrath; do not get in a personal fret, because this can lead to equivalent evil on our part (37:8)!
Instead of being sucked into a storm of disunity, turn away from evil and accelerate whatever good you can do in a spirit of perfect unity, not feeding the offending spirit of deceit (37:27).
David also identifies what drives a wicked person; watch and observe his behavior. There is no fear of God before his eyes (36:1). He believes that his deceit cannot be discovered and uncovered (36:2). He plots trouble-making and does not reject evil (36:4). The words of his deceitful mouth stir up trouble and disunity (36:3).
David then points out that judgment will come upon a deceitful person soon enough. Evildoers will eventually be thrust down and be unable to rise (36:12). They will soon fade like grass and wither like the green herb (37:2). In just a little while, the evildoer will be no more; you will look carefully and he will not be there (37:10).
I have a dear friend who has lived this nightmare recently, and it has broken his heart. We have all been there at one time or another. But looking back, isn’t David correct that the situation eventually passed and unity prevailed? The evildoer vanishes like smoke (37:20) if we just focus on perfect unity.
So what happens to that deceitful green laurel tree that spread out its branches so enticingly?
“…behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found” (37:36)
Never forget: the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints (37:28)!