Advice from Psalm 37

Advice from Psalm 37

How do you respond when you see others doing wrong and getting away with it? How do you feel when you see people cheating in life and getting ahead, being sexually uninhibited and enjoying it, running after money and power and finding it? Listen to the Lord’s advice to us in Psalm 37: 

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

It’s common to fall into one of two postures when faced with those doing evil. You might find yourself fretting – feeling agitated and angry about what they are doing. We get upset when wrongs go unnoticed! Other times we might actually be jealous – envious that others have things we don’t. But, when you fall into either of these two positions, that means you’ve lost your focus and forgotten your joy. It’s not worth getting agitated or jealous – after all, they will soon wither and fade like the grass! Instead, we’re reminded to trust in the Lord.  

Verse 3
“Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”

It’s not your job to right every wrong in the world. It’s not your job to reap judgment on every corrupt person doing wrong. Instead, we need to trust in God to meter justice and guide his world. Yes, we have a role to play, but we need to do things God’s way. We are called to do good, dwell in the land, and be a companion to faithfulness.  

In ancient Israel, God had given his people a Promised Land in which to dwell. They were to live there and obey him. They were to avoid the customs and practices surrounding them that would lead them astray. The same is true for us: dwell in the place the Lord has designated for you. Don’t go outside of him looking for peace, or pleasure, or purpose.  Stay in God’s land and be faithful to him.

Trust in the Lord, and do good. When others are doing wrong and getting away with it, do good. When it seems easier to lash out or lie, do good. When it seems more profitable to disobey God, do good. When every part of you wants something outside of God, do good. And furthermore, we’re called to find delight in the Lord. 

Verse 4
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Let the Lord be your delight. Look to God as the source of your joy – he is the source of every delightful thing! Think about all the joy and delight that our God embedded in creation: food that tastes delicious, flowers that smell wonderful, landscapes that are breathtaking, rivers and lakes that are refreshing. And these things are merely the good gifts of creation – their purpose is to point us to the Creator himself! He is the true source of our delight. 

And the promise here is that when you delight yourself in the Lord, he will give you the desires of your heart. Of course we must properly understand this promise. It doesn’t mean if you look to God, he’ll give you whatever you want. Rather when you truly delight yourself in God and his Kingdom, then your desires begin to reflect his desires. Your passions are molded after his passions. Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). When we are abiding and delighting in God, then – and only then – will he give us what our hearts desire – because it will align with his desires. Then our way will be fully committed to the Lord. 

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

Commit where you’re going to God; trust in him and he will act. Commit your direction, goals, and ambitions to God. Like a little child holding onto his father’s hands, standing on top of his big shoes – put your life on top of the Lord, and let him carry you. 

Commit your way to God, and trust in him to act. His sovereign, loving hand will work in your life. He will arrange your life and direct you forward. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

And the result? The Lord will bring out your righteousness like the morning light and your justice like the noonday sun. In other words, righteousness will shine out of you and be evident to all around you. And so, with all of this in mind, the Lord says to be still.  

Verse 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!”

As a culture, we are suffocating ourselves with busyness. Adults working unbearable hours. Spouses that don’t have time to connect. Parents that hardly see their kids. Teens that are weighed down with stress. We are always moving much too fast.  And so the Word of God says to be still. Stop moving, be quiet before God, and wait patiently for him. Wait for his Spirit, his voice, his comfort. 

And as you look to God and wait for him, be reminded not to get irritated over the people getting ahead through godless means. Don’t let yourself get all worked up. Trust God.  

So, what is God’s advice for us from Psalm 37? Don’t spend time worrying about those living outside of God. Instead, trust the Lord. Do good. Delight yourself in God. Commit to follow him. Be still and wait for God. He will bring justice. He will give you your heart’s desire. He will grow your righteousness. He will act. 

This is a picture of how Jesus lived, and this is how Jesus empowers us to live in him.