My husband preached on Psalm 37 in our Wednesday night prayer service.
In Psalm 37, David, as an old man, tells us how to get peace. Today, we will look at Psalm 37:1-7.
Do you want peace? This is a very turbulent time — yet God says we can have peace!
We see His first instructions on how we can have peace in verses 1-2:
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Psalm 37:1-2
Verses 7-8 go along with verses 1-2
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
Why do we envy evil doers? Why do evil doers seem to prosper when the righteous sometimes suffer? Is it worth being righteous when the evil look to be prospering?
Here is a practical instruction to all of us. We see one command 3 times:
DO NOT FRET!
If we want peace, we must not fret. What does it mean to fret?
Literally, the Hebrew word for fret is the idea of growing warm, glowing, heating up with anger, jealousy, or zeal. We cannot let our anger start burning or boiling as was see the wicked prospering and they scheme against us.
The English word fret has the idea of devouring, gnawing at something. So we must not let anger or evil gnaw at us.
When we put the English and Hebrew definitions together, we can think of anger as an an angry or envious rat inside our souls gnawing away at us.
David here is saying to kill that rat of envy and anger. It will only do us damage. To have peace, we must stop or cease from anger or envy.
We are not to worry, angry, or be envious about evil doers. That will just cause more loss and damage. Those evil doers are temporary. Verse 2 says they will cut down like the grass. God will take care of them.
We should not be envious of the evil doers. If we are envious, then we desire to be like them. When we desire to be like someone, then we will become like them. We would be tempted to follow their example.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Psalm 37:3
If we put off envy and anger, then we must put on something in it’s place. What should we put on?
Trust in Hebrew here means to run to a place of refuge, to go to a safe place. Figuratively it means to lean on, to be confident, to be sure. It was used in the context of laying face down in worship showing complete dependence in God.
Therefore, the cure for fretting is faith and trust in God — no matter the circumstances around us. This submitting to God even in the midst of difficulties is an act of our will. We are trusting God to handle what seems to be unfair.
There is also an external reaction to this internal decision to trust. There is an action to take:
The best way to keep the mind off of fretting over circumstances and to not be envious over evil doers is to trust in the Lord and then to start working. It keeps our minds occupied and our hands busy so that we don’t have time to worry about evil doers. It will decrease the complaining and keep our mind off of the evil in this world.
“So shalt thou dwell in the land,” refers to the land of promise to the Israelites. Here David is telling them to go work the land — keep busy, do what God had told them to do.
“Verily thou shalt be fed” — God will take care of their needs.
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37:4
There’s even more God will give us when we stop fretting and being envious and start doing good. However, not only are we to trust and do good; but we must also . . .
The word delight means “to be soft, pliable.” The word delight comes from the same root word as to be in luxury or to be pampered. We are pampered in our relationship with God. Because we have this relationship with God, we don’t need anything else. Our happiness is in Him, so we don’t desire what the evil people have. He is the object of our affection, our thinking, and our activities. He takes care of our every need. He makes us comfortable and pampered. We don’t need anything outside of our relationship with Him.
Practically, to delight in the Lord is to take pleasure in Him, in His service, and in His fellowship.
When we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart because His desires become our desires. Our prayers to God are His will for us. The person who delights in the Lord will have righteous desires, so automatically, God will answer his prayers.
John 15:7 says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
Our requests will be in harmony with His will for our lives when we delight in God.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Psalm 37:5-6
The next command is to . . .
This verb means to roll off your burden onto God like I Peter 5:7 says: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.“
He is the muscle that carries those burdens for us.
Commit means to make God’s way my way. We don’t keep questioning God’s way. We do it even if we don’t understand it.
This word means that we believe God’s promises. We believe God will do what He says He will do. We cultivate the habit of placing Him first in our lives.
When we do all of these things – – trust, do good, delight, and commit, we will not fret.
And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Psalm 37:6
God will bless our trusting, delighting, committing, and doing good — He will bring it to pass. In context, this means He will bring our righteousness out as the noonday. Our righteousness will be seen.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Psalm 37:7
Don’t murmur or complain when the wicked seem to prosper. We have to keep the right perspective that God is control and that it will work out for our good and His glory, but we must be patient as He will do it in His timetable. This mindset will help us remember that God will take care of us, and we don’t need to fret or worry.
Here are a couple of applications posed as questions?
- Is there anything that the Lord cannot provide for you?
If we answer this question honestly, then we have no reason to fret. If the Lord can provide everything that we need, then we do not need to worry.
- Do you want to see God do something in your life?
Then commit your way to Him: everything that you are, all the time that you have, and all the resources you have. God is working for you, and He will bring it to pass in His time.
Look at all the resources we have. They are all in the Lord:
Trust IN THE LORD.
Delight IN THE LORD.
Commit your way TO THE LORD.
Rest IN THE LORD.
Wait patiently FOR THE LORD.
SO DO NOT FRET!
As I walked home after church, I saw a rainbow in the sky. It made me think of how we can trust God to keep His promises. He made a promise to Noah thousands of years ago and gave him the sign of a rainbow to remind Noah that He would not forget that promise.
Today, we still see that rainbow, and we can remember that God has always kept His promises to this day — and He always will. We can trust Him. We do not need to fret.
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