Summary: What do you do when the culture around you and life seems to go south? Do you rant and rave and get bummed? Get some incredible advice from David on how to put life and difficulty into perspective.
Psalm 37 ought to be required reading for all Christians. It gives us hope for the future while we live in a wicked world and it gives us direction for how to live our lives given the hope that we have in our Messiah Jesus. Notice as we walk through this psalm how much it sounds like a series of proverbs.
1 – 2
It’s hard to watch evil people prosper. It happens all the time. The rich get richer as they step on the backs of people below them. The powerful get more powerful even though they arrogantly reject God. Elections don’t go our way. We end up struggling and weak and we wonder—why doesn’t God do something about it?
David’s words for us here are “don’t get uptight.” The theme of this psalm could be: “take the long view.” Once I was part of a fifty mile hike. When you set out on a hike of that distance you don’t think so much about today’s walk and how your feet hurt now, but you plan and set yourself towards the end—the goal or you will never reach it. That’s the way it should be with us and this life.
God has a plan that is bigger and longer than our ability to grasp sometimes. Though in our minds the wicked seem to never go away, from God’s perspective they are like grass on a hot summer day. In verses 3 through 9 we learn what we should do:
3 – 9
Trust – means to “have confidence in.” Have confidence that the Lord is your God and He is looking out for your good and for His kingdom’s good.
Do what is good – Instead of focusing on what the wicked are getting, concentrate on how the Lord is prompting you to do good—to offer His salvation, to bless others, to love unconditionally.
Dwell in the land and live securely. The language used here is of a shepherd. “Live securely” is the word: “to graze” or “pasture.” I think the saying “bloom where you are planted” might apply here. You can thrive anywhere by the strength that God gives those that take root in Him. Don’t be looking for satisfaction through the shortcuts of those that don’t know God.
Delight – this is a wonderful Hebrew word. It means “to be soft and pliable.” We ask: how can I get what I desire in my heart? The answer is to make your heart soft and pliable in the Lord’s hands. Let Him start to shape your character and your desires so you want what He wants. Then when you ask you will ask according to God’s will.
John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
This reminds me of something Pastor Chuck Smith has said: “Just enjoy your relationship with the Lord and He’ll take care of the rest.”
Commit – the word means “to roll.” I guess the idea here is like pushing a boulder down a hill. Once it’s done there’s no calling it back. That’s the way it should be with us. You say “God I need you to take this and guide me and answer according to Your will.” Then you leave it there. That is much easier said than done—but you have to know that He will act. It may just not be how you would act, and that’s okay. Often how He “acts” is to change, not the circumstances but your character, so that His righteousness becomes yours and it shines brightly in this dark world.
Be Silent – Refrain from Anger – verses 7 and 8 are related. When we see things in the world that are clearly wrong we get agitated and angry and we want to speak out and do something to make it right. Now I’m not advocating that we cede from society and no longer vote or take part in the political process. What I am saying is that our attitude needs to be one of waiting for the Lord to move. This also works when it comes to relationships. When someone does something to us, we want to strike back, but as David says “it can only bring harm.”
Let’s go back to a verse we looked at last time:
Romans 12:17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone's eyes. 18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. 20 But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. 21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.