Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – A

There was a time in my Christian walk when I first read Psalm 37 in it’s entirely and was literally amazed at the number of familiar verses I found in the passage. It seemed like I had heard each of these verses in conversations or sermons, study books or devotionals. Bumper stickers, bookmarks, posters, book titles – you get my point. I suppose this statement reveals that the Old Testament did not hold a place of priority for myself in my early Christian walk, and to that truth, I admit it, – I am guilty. But no more.

Our first two verses describe the content of the psalm, and the two parties discussed, that is the believer, and the evildoer. Throughout this psalm, David speaks of the characteristics that are to belong to the believer and the fruit of the life a believer is to live.

David also speaks of the evil doer, the characteristics of the life of an evildoer, and the end he will experience.

An an introduction, lets read the first two verses and consider the message the King of Israel is providing us.

Psalm 37

1 Of David. Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.

David is directing himself, and by association ourselves, not to fret.

To fret. What is tarnation is it “to fret”. My son is a guitarist and when I hear of fret, I think of the neck of a guitar. A secondary definition, I suppose is that to fret is to worry. That is so applicable to my station in life – I am a chief worrier, I actually worry about worrying too much! (I gotta get a life!)

David instructs his soul not to fret, or as I imagined, not to worry. But dang it all, according to a quick study, worry is not the way some understand this term.

The term “fret” is a translation of the Hebrew word “ḥārâ”, Strongs H2734 The good ol’ KJV translates this term in the following ways.

Worry, or any synonym of worry isn’t popping up in the list now is it? It seems synonyms for fret settle around a word meaning anger, wrath or hot displeasure. Not a description of a man in a corner, sitting quietly and worrying.

Isn’t that interesting. David is telling himself not to be angry, displeased, burn up or grieve out over the actions and seeming success of the evildoer. Not to quit worrying. Remember who we are talking of here, the great King of Israel, the man of action that took on any enemy God pointed at. He wasn’t characterized by worry.

He goes on to describe a second response of the human heart, that is of envy. Envy, the green eyed monster. Envy also has a component of a burning with zeal to it, but envy is strictly not equal to jealously. (A previous post on envy, Love Like Jesus – Without Envy may be of interest to the reader.)

Why David? Why should we reject this seemingly righteous feeling of anger and envy towards this apparent success of those who disobey and reject God’s way? Why David – It just isn’t fair!

The best way to bring justice into this condition of apparent success of the lost is to consider their end. They will burn in hell and suffer for all eternity, with no relief and no hope, writing in pain and hating God.

Wow Carl – Are you sure this is David’s message? Ok Carl – let’s just read the passage without dragging some end time theology into it. David is bringing to our attention the shortness of their time, not the result of their crime. (Wow – a poet and didn’t even know it.) David uses terms like fade and wither, an eventual ending of their success, not writhing and screaming in some afterlife that may not have been very clear to the Old Testament saint.

David is describing the here and now, and of the basis of the saints peace in that the success of the evil man will be short lived. Later on in this fantastic passage, David describes the rewards of a saints confidence in the Lord, of the fruit of a settled trust in Him, of the trophy of God’s blessing on a man or woman who shuns anger and envy, (along with a host of additional attitudes David will teach us).

What a fantastic psalm. I am looking forward to our foray into this psalm, but for now I need to close, since if I continue with the verses 3 & 4, I will surely be found to be long in the tooth. In conclusion, consider David’s admonition for the saint.

Fret not

Don’t be angry over the apparent (and seemingly very real) success of evil doers. Their day will come and we will sorrow when it does, for the very real loss they will experience.

Do not envy

Don’t long for the fruit of wrongdoers, but enjoy the blessings that God has provided. Look to Him for your source of joy. Don’t look to what others have, and envy. (The advertising industry understands the power of what “other’s have” over our desires, and we know the advertising industry is not working for the Lord, now are they?)

God is good and His people have much to be thankful for. May His name be honored in our daily lives, and may we reflect the character of our God, and not of this world.

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Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – Part A

In our last post, we discovered that David was speaking to us of anger and envy in the believers life, or to be clearer, of the rejection of anger and envy in the saints life. It is to be replaced with a realization that the evil doer, the one who does wrong to succeed, has a short time left. Shortness of time. No longevity, no duration, no constancy. A soon coming end of their success.

Let’s consider our next couplet of verses.

Psalm 37

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

David begins this couplet with the penultimate desire of the saint – to trust in the Lord. Trust in the Lord, and out of this trust, do good in the land, as opposed to those evil doers, those who do wrong. Do not base your life on the apparent results of the evil doers, those who find success by abandoning truth. No, focus on the type of God we have. One who is all wise, ever powerful, and yet meek, willing to bend down to our condition, to our failures and feebleness. One who is trustworthy, who exhibits His trustworthiness as we trust Him. Each time we cling to His principles, each time we believe His Word, each time we stand against the wind of public opinion or the evil doer who mocks and persecutes, He shows Himself to be trustworthy. But we must stand. We must trust in the Lord.

A brother years back tried to explain trust to me and it was when the popular slogan “If God said it I believe it’ was influencing the church. It is the very definition of trust, is it not? Sorry to say, I do not believe (trust) that it is a helpful definition.

This brother added one critical term to the saying that I have never forgotten. Trust is hearing God’s Word, understanding God’s Word and then obeying God’s Word.

We need to understand God’s word, in order to have faith. With a faith that includes understanding, or better yet, because of a faith that includes understanding, we are to do good in the land. We can have an understanding that evil doers have a limited time of enjoying their success.

What is it that David speaks of as the expectation, or reward of the saint who trusts in the Lord and does good?

He describes the saint as “dwelling” in the land. To “dwell” in the land implies an expectation of long duration, of a settled condition. Synonyms such as to settle down, to abide, to continue or to remain are found in the Hebrew dictionaries. David is not giving the impression that the saint is to expect a short lived experience, like the evil doer!

He then goes on to emphasize the duration of the saints expectations by describing the dwelling with living securely (CSB), enjoy safe pasture (NIV), prosper (NLT), enjoy security (RSV), be fed (KJV). Each of these translations give us added encouragement to expect not only a long duration, but a fruitful duration.

Delight yourself in the LORD. With verse 4, it appears David is building upon the former action of trust. Consider my earthly condition with my favorite wife.

I met my lady years ago on a bus, and her character was one of truth and conviction. I found her word to be trustworthy. I could easily trust her, understanding that what she said she meant, and what she promised she would do. Trusting her was a first step in my relationship with my wife. It is the bedrock of our marriage and as we grew together as a couple, our unfamiliarity with each of others foibles fell away and we entered into an existence of simple enjoyment. This enjoyment, as last night when she came in the door, I found myself smiling. You know, I have found myself smiling much these last years when I think of her, look to her, hear her voice on the phone. I believe this is the condition of the saint David is describing. Not something we are to work up, sweat over to create a feeling of enjoyment. Be faithful, be thankful, know the Lord and His goodness. Constancy in knowing the true God will create this feeling of enjoyment, this phase of delighting in Him. I do have to admit, this delighting, as describing in the Old Testament, has an intimate connotation. To delight is to enjoy.

In our next post, we will consider the third admonition David gives in the saints experience. For now, consider how you trust Him.

Remember that trusting is to hear a message, understand it, and to comply. Trust is a response to a faithful person, a natural response to someone who has proven Himself over and over again. Consider the many times the Father has given you direction, guidance, encouragement, strength, and deliverance. He has provided a Savior that not only humbled Himself to shame, but suffered an unjust torture and death for your salvation and deliverance. He is easy to trust if the message is not silenced with the raging voices of the world, if it isn’t garbled with the religious raucous we live in, and is not nullified by that self hating voice we sometimes hear.

Delighting is an enjoyable experience, an experience that is not a drudgery or a “grinding of the teeth” to endure. simply , and I have found that the trust has grown into a delight, into a sense of inner happiness, for I know she is always on the lookout for me. The

Try to listen to Him today. and tomorrow. And the next day. And find the delight David speaks of

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Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – Part B

In our previous post, we visited verses 3 and 4, and found keys descriptors of the saints life. Trusting in the Lord and delighting in the Lord. I suggested that this is somewhat of a progression in the saints life, and have found it to be true for myself. But before we get into this post, let’s remember why we are here. Let’s consider the Bible and read the passage for this post

Psalm 37

5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

As mentioned above, in the previous verses, David spoke of trust and delight. In this couplet, he introduces the third, overall characteristic of the saint, and that is to commit to the Lord.

I tried to explain my understanding of these two characteristics of the saint, that is of trust and delight, as it relates to my relationship with my wife. I find this last admonition, of committing, to easily and naturally continue this storyline.

Referring to my trust in my wife, and my first understanding of her character, I easily believed her words. I found it to be an enjoyable experience to be around her, to try to understand her and to please her, to grow together and to enjoy each others company. Both of these characteristics (that is trusting in and delighting in) have continued through the years, and generally increased consistently. (Hey we are human we have a had a few bumps along the way – Mostly on me!)

But to commit. This is the topic for this blog, for David instructs the saint to

Commit your way to the LORD;….

To commit. To throw your lot in with, to pledge allegiance to, to do, perform or perpetuate. This is an action word of course, and speaks of our orthopraxy, the way we live.

Let me give a bit of an example.

I am over 60 yrs old and I shall be passing from this sphere soon. My mind tells me that to plant an oak tree would be a task that I would not likely benefit from, and yet my faith tells me that planting trees is a good thing. Now of course this thought must be carried over into every aspect of life, not simply restricted to horticulture. But I hope you see my point.

Why life a life of faith? Why continue to commit to a principle, a friend, a mate or the living God, if we have seemingly have diminishing returns as we edge closer to our earthly cessation. We need to be reminded that to commit is not a bet with the odds in our favor, or is it to be dependent on some future occurrence, that if not fulfilled, allows an escape clause to be exercised.

We may never see many of the benefits of a life of faith, of a commitment to a living God, during this 70 odd years on this planet, but that is not the point.

No – Commitment is based on relationship, or better stated (since David said it not I), on trust, for he follows his encouragement to commit with a synonym, that is to

….trust in him…

I left the semi colon in the previous portion of the verse as a reminder to myself that the purpose of a semi colon (;) is to be placed in between a list or series of ideas that are closely related. To commit is closely related to trust, and in my experience, is a fruit of trust.

I will gladly commit to a cause that I trust, that I believe in. I will gladly commit to my wife because she is one I delight in. I will with joy commit to the ever faithful One, the One who fully committed to me in my lostness.

But in all of this discussion, I have accentuated the aspect of trust, delight and commitment, without a corresponding reaction, and yet this is not the God we serve. We can not demand from the King, but we can know his heart and that He is the ever faithful One, One we have learned to trust, that we delight in as we learn His ways and His care for His people.

David continues with the following statement, as God’s response to the saint.

and he will act.

David stated “He will act”. Remember dear friend, that David was pre-cross, a thousand years away from that cruel day. And yet the ultimate “act” of God was completed, performed for us. He “acted” by hanging on that cruel cross.

Of course, as we seek to walk with Him during our sojourn down here, He blesses our feeble efforts with acts of mercy, and we surely need the encouragement as we troddle along. But never let the current blessings we may be experiencing (or the burdens either) cloud our view of that day when He acted.

Commit to the Faithful One. Ask Him for the strength to cling to Him, for in ourselves, we surely do not have the ability to.

Praise His name, and be thankful for all His goodness. His mercies extend every day.

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Psalms for Psome – Ps 37 – Part C

Psalm 37

7 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!

Be still. Rest. Do nothing. Grow dumb, in that no voice may erupt from the mouth. This term actually may be translated as be astounded, or stupified. Keep silent.

Be still before the Lord. No demands or defense. How often do you enter into prayer, whether on your knees or walking into work and you are either defending some action you may be ashamed of (sometimes called confession) or boasting of your latest good deed – don’t deny you do it!

This passage speaks of time again. The lost one has little time. The saint may expect much time. And the Lord isn’t bound by time. Wait patiently for the Lord, for He isn’t on my schedule.

And yet I gotta get the widget sent off, and a dozen doohickies need to be greased, along with the thingamajig and whatchmacallit, both of them are calling to me for answers! Oh the tyranny of the time piece! Oh I am so burdened with the cares of this life and David is telling us to Be still before the Lord and wait. Wait patiently.

If I were to admit to any failure in my Christian life ( and there are many!) this particular blessing of a “timelessness before the Lord” a period of not thinking schedule or duty, of not defending past decisions or worrying about future reactions, of ignoring “possible” outcomes in the coming days.

Be still. A constant attitude of doing, running, moving, thinking, writing, working, hurrying and “being about our Master’s work” may be a trap many of us have fallen into.

Martha was there right with me, getting food ready for the crowd. Doing, scheduling, working and eventually whining to the Lord about some one else.

Mary was before the Lord, being still, waiting on the Lord for His instruction. I imagine she was in a very comfortable mind set, open to His teaching and looking up to Him, seeking to understand and not defend a previous belief. I wanna think this is the condition Mary was in.

Martha seemed to be fretting, and remember this fretting had the component of anger associated with it.

Let’s listen in to Martha’s request as read in a free translation called “The Voice”. I think it expresses Martha’s anxiety

Luke 10:40 – 41 Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.

Martha (interrupting Jesus): Lord, why don’t You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.

Luke 10:40 – 41 The Voice

Be still Martha. You seem to be exhibiting a bit of rage here with your lazy sister! Your schedule is eating you up, and you are coming off as a whiny nag. As believers, we must remember that those we venerate as saints were humans with the same frailties we experience each day. Martha was struggling, appreciating the situation of having the Messiah in her presence!

David is speaking of fretting not over the success of the evil man, and this doesn’t directly relate to Martha and Mary, yet there are similarities, there are attitudes that seem to parallel David’s concerns.

Be still and fret not.

For me, this is a herculean effort, and even in this closing, I am thinking of doing, working, performing this injunction, of disciplining my life to conform – Oh blasted thoughts.

But wait – It is not about you and I. We are to look to our Savior, and be still before Him, and wait patiently. It is good to look to Him and see how he deals with Martha

Jesus is the Savior and He loves Martha.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. – John 11:5

Jesus is the Savior. Martha was a “woman of action” and went to the Savior – He was approachable, even though He had upbraided her in her little fit above. Yet she expressed a faith in the Savior

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” – John 11:21-23

Did Martha become Mary? No – She still served.

So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. – John 12:2 ESV

It was her nature, even as it may be our nature to be about, working and scheduling, thinking and doing. But this doesn’t negate the need to be still and wait patiently on the Lord.

It is a respite for the soul to be still and to wait.

Do not refuse this great blessing Carl!

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Psalm 37

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

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Psalm 37

10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

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Psalm 37

12 The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.

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Psalm 37

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.

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Psalm 37

16 Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.

Psalm 37

18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance.

Psalm 37

20 But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish–like smoke they vanish away.

Psalm 37

21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

Psalm 37

23 The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.

Psalm 37

25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.

27 Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death.
33 The LORD will not abandon him to his power or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34 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.

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

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