Psalm 37 is an encouraging Psalm for the believer. David encourages us that the LORD will not forsake those who are His. He begins the Psalm setting the stage, a stage we are all familiar with… “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” (Psalm 37.1)
This drama, if you will, is one we see acted out before our eyes on a daily basis. Questions often arise like, “Why do they get away with that?” “Why do they prosper when they don’t deal honestly?” “Why do I do what I’m supposed to, when they never do as they are supposed to and they continue to succeed?”
Legitimate questions. Real questions. I have been known to ask these.
But David reminds us… “For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.” (Psalm 37.2)
However, we are told that we all will fade like the grass, we all will wither (Isaiah 40.6-8). So, where is the encouragement here? Sure, it is somewhat encouraging to know that the evildoer will not remain forever. But aren’t we just as frail. The moment we take our first breath, we begin to fade, and die. The encouragement is found in the verses that follow, mainly: vs. 3, 4, 5, 7, and 34. For these verses have imperatives, commands for the believer. This is an encouragement because 1 John 2.17 says, “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
While the world is passing away, the righteous will abide with God forever.
Look at the imperatives:
“Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” (Psalm 37:3)
Trust here is the Hebrew bāṭaḥ, meaning “to be stretched out; taut”
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says,
“In general, the OT contrasts the validity of that sense of confidence which comes from reliance upon God with the folly of any other kind of security. It is made plain that all such trust will end in disgrace and shame (Ps 31:14), whereas those whose hope is in God alone will be delivered from their enemies (Ps 22:4); their prayers will be answered (I Chr 5:20); they will walk in straight paths (Prov 3:5); will be given joy and gladness (Ps 16:9; 33:21); will know inner peace and absence of fear (Ps 4:8; Isa 26:3); etc. Hence, the repeated admonition to trust in the Lord (Prov 16:20; Isa 30:15; Jer 17:7).”
Oswalt, J. N. (1999). 233 בָּטַח. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (101–102). Chicago: Moody Press.
Is “trust in the LORD” a catch phrase for you and your church? Or a description of your obedience to the Word of the Lord? We like to use this phrase a lot in our conversations…but I fear we can’t as often use it to describe our obedience.
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37.4)
This is an interesting thought in the Psalm. This word in the Hebrew means “to pamper, refresh oneself, to take one’s pleasure in”
This is not a hard imperative if we stop at “Delight yourself.” We are professional man pleasers. We take the gold medal in making ourselves happy. However, this is the root of sin, if we stop at “delight yourself.” For we were created to “Delight ourselves in the LORD.” It is your purpose, your reason for being made.
We pray wrongly for this. We think if we pray for God to give us the desires of our heart it is fulfilling this passage. However, we pray this when we stop at “delight yourself.” When we begin to “delight yourselves in the LORD” then the desires of our heart will be righteous desires…desires that all find their fulfillment in the LORD and he will not withhold himself from us if we truly delight in Him. For that is why we were created.
Philippians 3:1, 4:4; Matthew 6:33
What do you delight in? Is your true delight the LORD? Or is your delight, the desire of your heart, devoid of the LORD? A true believer finds his delight in the LORD and not in that which is passing away (1 John 2.17).
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:5)
Commit is the Hebrew word gālal, which means to roll some object on, upon, away, in, against, from, together, unto, or down.
This figure is used for rolling oneself on the Lord and so to trust the Lord (Ps 22:8) or to commit one’s behavior or life to the Lord (Ps 37:5; Prov 16:3) or remove such non-material things as reproach and contempt (Ps 119:22).
Kalland, E. S. (1999). 353 גָּלַל. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (162). Chicago: Moody Press.
Psalm 22:8 is a statement made by mockers but is actually ironically a true statement. “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” Isn’t it interesting how the mocker sees the one who is committed to the Lord as trusting in the LORD and delighting in the LORD? Even the mocker can see this kind of lifestyle as demonstrating commitment, delight, and trust.
Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust him, and he will act.”
Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”
Our commitment to God comes with the promise of God’s faithful working on our behalf. But it is when we seek His kingdom and His righteousness. When we commit our life to the glory of God, the LORD will see to it that it will be established! Amen!
4. Be still
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalm 37:7)
This carries the warning to not act on your own impatience and do not continue to act in doubt within your own thinking, more precisely, do not worry. There is a time when you must be still and wait for the LORD. Be still in prayer, be still in meditating upon the word of God, be still in resting and sleeping. TRUST in the God of your salvation.
Psalm 62:1, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.”
Lamentations 3:25-26, “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”
Are you still before the LORD? Are you still in prayer, in meditation, in rest…knowing the LORD is your salvation and he will act? We need to repent of our inability to be still before the LORD. Repent of your doubting heart, your worrying heart, your impatient heart.
The last imperative is like the one before it:
“Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.” (Psalm 37:34)
Wait is from the Hebrew word meaning to “wait, look for, hope.”
This is not the hope of the world. When someone buys a lottery ticket they are “hoping” they will win the jackpot. That kind of hope is more of a wish. It is rooted in nothing firm and solid. It is like attempting to run across the top of a lake…you may hope you can make it, but as soon as your feet touch the water they will break the surface and sink.
The believer’s hope is rooted in a firm, solid word from the Lord. It is an expectation of the future events that will take place. We eagerly wait for the coming King! “Surely I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22:20) We can wait, looking to the skies for our Lord and King’s return. All that is wrong and evil and cursed here will one day be made right by our Lord and Savior and righteous Judge. He is coming, He is mighty, He is faithful…and so we wait.
We eagerly await our full adoption as sons and daughters.
We eagerly await our glorification.
We eagerly wait for sin, sickness, and death to be ended.
We eagerly wait for the Lord to conquer the wicked.
We eagerly wait to receive our portion, Who is the Lord.
We eagerly wait to see Him face to face.
We eagerly await eternity with Him.
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” – Revelation 22:20-21