PSALM 37: Be Cool
Text: Psalm 37:1-9
This Tuesday marks the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and with the release of what appears to be another video from Osama Bin Laden, the architect of the 9/11 attacks, there is some anxiety over the possibility of further attacks along with much rhetoric concerning the fact that Bin Laden has not yet been brought to justice. It is towards these feelings, anxiety, fear, and anger that Psalm 37 is directed and we are going to examine the teachings of this Psalm in our lesson this morning.
Psalm 37 is a wisdom Psalm, a teaching Psalm. In the Hebrew it is an acrostic, each couplet beginning with sequential letters of the Hebrew alphabet, a mnemonic device which would make it easier to memorize the teachings of the Psalm. David is identified as the author and in this Psalm he deals directly with a believer’s attitude toward evildoers and exhorts us with the principles we as children of God need practice in our response to evildoers.
David begins in the first two verses with a statement of consolation:
Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass, And fade like the green herb.
I.Fret Not (v1)
A.David cautions the righteous about their response to evildoers.
1.The Hebrew word here means properly to glow or grow warm; to be kindled, to be inflamed, and is often applied to anger, as if under its influence we become “heated.”
2.“Fret not” literally is telling us “don’t get heated” or as we said when I went to High School, “Be Cool.”
3.This is the main thing David has to say in this Psalm: Fret not.
4.To make sure we get it, David repeats it three times:
“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.” (v. 1.)
“Fret not thyself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.” (v. 7.)
“Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” (v. 8.)
II.Response of the Righteous
So how do we get there, how do we not get heated in response to the evildoer? David gives exhorts with four principles which should guide our responses, even our very lives.
A.Trust In The Lord… (v3a)
1.Confide in him; rest on him. Instead of allowing the mind to be disturbed and sad, because there are wicked men upon the earth; because they are prosperous and apparently happy; because they may injure you in your person or reputation, calmly confide in God. Leave all this in his hands. Feel that he rules, and that what he permits is wisely permitted; and that whatever may occur, it will all be overruled for his own glory and the good of the universe.
2.…and do good (v3a) - Put faith (trust) into action. James 2:18
a.If there are wicked men in the world, if wickedness abounds around us, there is the more reason for our endeavoring to do good. If others are doing evil, we should do good; if they are wicked, we cannot do a better work than to do good to them, for the best way of meeting the wickedness of the world is to do it good. Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
b.The best way to keep the mind from complaining, chafing, and fretting, is to be always engaged in doing good; to have the mind always occupied in something valuable and useful. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
B.Delight Yourself In The Lord (v4a)
1.The meaning here is, that we should seek our happiness in God—in his being, his perfections, his friendship, his love.
2.And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart (v4b)
a.—literally, the “askings,” or the “requests” of thy heart. What you really “desire” will be granted to you. That is,
b.The fact that you seek your happiness in him will regulate your desires, so that you will be “disposed” to ask only those things which it will be proper for him to grant
c.The fact that you do find your happiness in him will be a reason why he will grant your desires.
d.Matthew 6:32-33 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
C.Commit Your Way To The Lord (v5a)
1.The term “way” means properly the act of treading or going; then, a way or path; then, a course of life, or the manner in which one lives; and the reference here is to the whole course of life. Everything, in regard to the manner in which we live, and all its results, are to be committed to the Lord.
2.In Hebrew, “Roll thy way upon, the Lord.” The idea is that of rolling a heavy burden from ourselves on another, or laying it upon him, so that he may bear it. The burden which we have not got strength to bear we may lay on God.
3.1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety upon Him…
4.Trust also in Him and He Will Do It (v5b) - That is, He will bring it to a proper issue; He will secure a happy result. He will take care of your interests, and will not permit you to suffer, or to be ultimately wronged.
D.Rest In The Lord… (v7a)
1.Rest in the Lord—“Be silent to the Lord.” The Hebrew word means to be mute, silent, still: Job 40:3-4. Hence, to be silent to anyone; that is, to listen to him in silence; and the idea in the phrase here, ““be silent to Jehovah,”” is that of waiting in silent patience or confidence for his interposition; or, in other words, of leaving the whole matter with him without being anxious as to the result.
2.…and wait patiently for him (v7a) - For his bringing the matter to a proper issue. He may seem to delay long; it may appear strange that he does not interpose; but you are not to be anxious and troubled. All that the promise implies is that justice will be done, but whether sooner or later must be left to Him; and that our character will be safe in His hands.
III.Destiny Of The Evildoers
Repeatedly, David argues that the righteous should not fret over evildoers because of the end of the wicked. He described their end in vivid language.
“For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb.” (37:2.)
“…will be cut off” (37:9, 22, 28, 34, 38.)
“Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more.” (37:10)
“The Lord laughs at him.” (37:13.)
“Their sword will enter into their own heart and their bows will be broken.” (37:15.)
“Their arms will be broken.” (37:17.)
“Wicked will perish, like fat they shall be consumed away.” (37:20.)
“Transgressors will be destroyed together.” (37:38.)
This psalm tells what the righteous man’s response should be toward evildoers. It also tells how God regards the wicked. He sees and knows what they are doing. Justice will come upon all in due time. The question is not, Why does God not stop evil from occurring? Why did He not stop the terrorists as they were plotting their evil deeds? The only question is, When will God punish the evildoers? It is a matter of time. This calls for patience on our part.
2 Peter 3:1-9
Those who lived under the first covenant did not know what has been revealed to us about eternity. They most often looked for justice during their lifetime. But the end of the wicked will be most severe. The blessings for the righteous will be great.