Scripture reading – Psalm 37; Psalm 71

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Today’s Scripture reading consists of two lengthy psalms. Psalm 37 was titled “A Psalm of David,” and the author of Psalm 71 is unknown (although David may have penned it in his old age). Today’s devotional is taken from the first eleven verses of Psalm 37.

Every day, we are inundated by reports of violence and wickedness that can best be explained as evidence of abject depravity. Not a day passes without random acts of violence and evil emblazoned across news headlines. Human trafficking, child abductions, pedophilia, rape, murder, and mayhem have become the daily diet of news consumers.

What a sad contrast to my childhood days when parents would allow children to play outside for hours without worry. What has happened, and how should Bible believers respond to a culture that is the antithesis of godliness and morality? Where do we focus our thoughts and emotions when we witness injustices that grieve the soul and stir within us anger and resentment? Psalm 37 tackles those questions.

Psalm 37

 

“Fret not” (Psalm 37:1-2) 

The psalmist wrote, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious [jealous] against the workers [makers] of iniquity [wickedness; unrighteousness]” (Psalm 37:1).

Assuming David was the author of Psalm 37, the king cautioned believers not to allow the sins of the wicked to stir them to anger. He admonished them not to be jealous when the wicked appear to prosper in their sins. The writer of the Book of Hebrews asserted there is pleasure in sin, but only for a season (Hebrews 11:25). David stated the same, writing the wicked shall soon be cut down [cut off] like the grass, and wither as the green herb [tender grass]” (Psalm 37:2).  

“Fret not,” for God’s wrath will inevitably consume the wicked in their sins as surely as grass withers in the summer heat.

 

Trust and Delight in the LORD (Psalm 37:3-4)

Rather than fret and worry, people of faith were challenged to “Trust [be confident; bold] in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell [continue] in the land, and verily [faithfully] thou shalt be fed” as a shepherd cares for his sheep (Psalm 37:3). Believers are not only to “trust” but to “Delight…in the LORD” and be assured, “He shall give thee the desires [requests; petitions] of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4). To “delight” implied contentment and satisfaction.  

How do people of faith delight in the LORD? We delight in the LORD when we are content to enjoy His presence, study His Word, and accept that His will and purpose are always good (Romans 8:28-29). What a blessed assurance to know that when we delight in the LORD, His will is our heart’s desire!

A third instruction for thriving in a sin-mad world is to “roll over on the LORD” our burdens, troubles, and anxieties. (Psalm 37:5-6)

 

Psalm 37:5-6 – “Commit [trust] thy way [journey; course] unto the LORD; Trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.  6 And he shall bring forth [i.e., make to appear] thy righteousness [justice; prosperity] as the light [i.e., the light of day], and thy judgment [manner; right; cause] as the noonday.

To commit one’s way to the LORD is to “roll over” on Him our burdens. The “way” is one’s life path, road, and future. When you give your life to the LORD (Romans 12:1), you must learn to “trust also in Him” (Psalm 37:5). David invited believers to be bold and confident that the LORD will accomplish His will in us.  He will defend and vindicate us [“thy righteousness”] in the light of day (Psalm 37:6).

David understood what it was to be surrounded by the wicked and be the victim of their unjustified attacks. Still, he encouraged believers that if they would delight, trust, and roll their troubles onto the LORD, they would find rest. (Psalm 37:7-11)

Psalm 37:7 – “Rest [be still; silent] in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth [succeeds; has success] in his way [journey], because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass [creates wicked plots].”

What does it mean to “rest in the LORD” (Psalm 37:7)? To “rest” is essentially to be still or quiet. The discipline of silence is lost in our world. We are surrounded by noise and activity. Even worship services are loud and hectic! Yet, David encouraged his readers to “rest in the Lord,” be still, silent, and “wait patiently” (Psalm 37:7). Sadly, many are unwilling to be quiet long enough to pray and wait for the LORD to speak.

In Psalm 37:8, David returned to the counsel he stated in the first verse and urged, “Cease from [forsake; abandon] anger, and forsake wrath [rage]: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil [hurt; afflict]” (Psalm 37:8). In other words, don’t allow the sins of others to provoke you to sin! Don’t be overcome with anxiety when the wicked flaunt their sin and appear to prosper.

The king reminded the saints that “evildoers [the wicked] shall be cut off [destroyed]: but those that wait upon [look for; expect] the LORD, they shall inherit the earth [land]. 10 For yet a little while, and the wicked [ungodly] shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place [home; country], and it shall not be.” (Psalm 37:9-10).

Although not a universal certainty, I have observed that the lives of the wicked are often cut short by the consequences of their sinful choices and evil lifestyles. I have also seen the righteous blessed and prosper into their old age, for the LORD rewards those who wait on and look to Him (Psalm 37:9-10).

David assured believers that “the meek [humble] shall inherit [possess; be heir; take possession] the earth [land; country]; and shall delight [refresh] themselves in the abundance of peace [Shalom; happiness and contentment]” (Psalm 37:11).

 

Closing thoughts –

In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ quoted Psalm 37:11, saying, 5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

The world portrays the “meek” as weak; however, the biblical portrait of meekness is one who is spiritually disciplined and exercises self-control. The spiritually meek are strong in their faith and convictions but tender by God’s grace and the work of His Holy Spirit. Such a man is promised the LORD will give him an inheritance and lasting peace.

How do you respond to the prosperity of the wicked in the world?

Psalm 37 has challenged us not to worry (Psalm 37:2). Instead, we should trust and delight the Lord (Psalm 37:3-4). We should roll on to Him our anxieties (Psalm 37:5-6) and rest knowing the LORD will judge the wicked (Psalm 37:7). Will you do that today? Pray, trust the LORD, be still, and He will bless you with “the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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