“Turn From Evil and Do Good”

Using secret wisdom from the Psalms to sweeten the bitter sea of negativity around us.

There are countless opportunities every day to do good and shun negativity, to turn from evil.
There are countless opportunities every day to do good and shun negativity, to turn from evil. Photo: Yossi Zamir/Flash90

Can we deny that there are reasons to complain? These days, the governing coalition in Israel gets dissolved and replaced at a dizzying pace. Each time there are elections, the state has to pay for much of the election campaign advertising – using tax money that is insufficient for the budget in the first place. Furthermore, election day in Israel is by law a national holiday so that everyone can vote even if their job is far from their place of voting. Therefore, approximately once a year for these past five years, elections have shut down the economy, creating production losses and increasing wasteful employee turnover because every minister wants their own staff to come work for them.

Bottom line: Israeli citizens are frustrated by this negative situation. To be honest, I am not a political person by nature, nor have I ever pretended to be. But I am a person who listens.

I listen to the inner voices rumbling inside me.

I listen to the voices rumbling around me–the voices of the media, the voices of the politicians, the voices of the people, the voices of my friends; the voices of my children, my family and my husband.


One common denominator

The voices all have one common denominator. We are all almost constantly grumbling and complaining. We are nearly never satisfied and happy with what we have. Hardly a good word is said about the situation as it is at this moment. And therefore we get more and more reasons to complain! Because that’s how it works; it’s a scientific law: “Like attracts like.”

The more we grumble, the more reasons we will have to grumble.

The more we grumble, the worse it gets. Over and over.

Again and again in an infinite loop. Where do I see a key to changing this ridiculous situation? In Psalm 34:14, which tells us:

Turn from evil and do good

Or, as it also sounds in modern Hebrew: “Avoid the bad and do good.”

And I am trying to understand what God meant in these verses. What is turning from evil (Ra)? What does it mean to avoid “the bad”? While delving deeper, I understand that these short words contain the way to a good life and a happy life. First, let’s try to understand what it means to turn from and avoid evil.

Avoiding evil and avoiding the bad is a long list of things. And here are some of them:

  • It means not to speak with negativity about the country, because that is bad!
  • Slandering the nation’s leader is bad.
  • Writing a sarcastically negative comment to someone on social networks is bad.
  • Not being attentive to the need of a fellow human being is bad.
  • Ignoring a request for help is bad.
  • To gossip
  • To hate
  • To belittle
  • To envy
  • To complain
  • To fan the flames of an argument
  • To grumble
  • To be argumentative
  • To be critical
  • To despise someone

These are all bad, wrong, evil.

Every bad word (even if unintended) is likely to add more negativity to the world. Preoccupation with what is wrong only increases the weight of what is wrong. It’s like an autoimmune disease… It’s like the body just attacking itself. And unfortunately you can see it today inside this country.

Everyone in Israel seems to be set in their own opinions, unwilling to listen to the other. There is no real discourse on different viewpoints. Everyone just wants to make himself or herself heard. No one really wants to listen to others.

In order to turn away from evil and enjoy God’s promises, this is the time to stop and take action – each one in our own little sphere, inside our home, inside our thoughts, inside the recesses of our soul and heart. Every day, even if in a small way, look to see how you can do good. For your own self, for your loved ones, for others in your environment.

  • If you see a car stuck on the side of the road, see if you can stop and offer help.
  • If you run into a friend whose eyes are gloomy, ask what happened.

Doing good and focusing on good is possible all the time, anywhere. You don’t have to look far. You can do this at the supermarket, at work, on the keyboard, or at the hairdresser’s. To do good is actually to take responsibility for what happens in our environment. And this is a secret to a happy life, because then naturally our focus is on the good. And there is less emphasis on what is broken and rotten.

And miraculously, goodness multiplies in everyone’s own little world and therefore in the broader world. Your attitude and actions will bring more and more good, because “like attracts like” and “like begets like.” Then we can enjoy the promise in that very same Psalm 34, verse 12:

“Who is the man who desires life?”

That person must choose a path of good. He must turn away from evil and increase the good in an ongoing way.


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One response to ““Turn From Evil and Do Good””

  1. Disciple 1978 says:

    You might like “The Gift of Kindness” by Debbie Duncan and Cathy Le Feuvre, ISBN 978-1-78893-244-8. It addresses many of the issues you raise. It illustrates many initiatives that have made a difference in encouraging people to be kind, and overcoming negativity. It looks at the issue from a social, medical and spiritual perspective.

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