Saturday, December 7, 2013

Psalm 37


Security Vs. Insecurity  
 
How do we respond when we do what’s right and the wicked seem to prosper?  If you take refuge in God, you can trust Him to judge righteously on your behalf. 

A Psalm of David
 1   Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. 
 2   For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb.
 3   Trust in the Lord and do good—dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
 4   Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
 5   Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.  

 6   He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.
 7   Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him—
      do not fret because of him who prospers in  his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
 8   Cease from anger and forsake wrath, do not fret—
       it leads only to evildoing.
 9    For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
10  Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more—
      and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.  

             11  But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant
                  prosperity.
12  The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth.
13  The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming.

14   The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, to slay those who are upright in conduct.
             15   Their sword will enter their own heart, and their bows will be broken.
16   Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked.
17   For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord sustains the righteous.  

18   The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever.
19  They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance.
20  But the wicked will perish—
       and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish—
      like smoke they vanish away.  

21  The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. 22  For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, but those cursed by Him will be cut off.
            23  The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.
            24  When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who
                  holds his hand.
25  I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
      or his descendants begging bread.
26  All day long he is gracious and lends, and his descendants are a blessing.
27  Depart from evil and do good, so you will abide forever.
28  For the Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones;
      They are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
29  The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in 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 spies upon the righteous and seeks to kill him.
33  The Lord will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged.
34  Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land when the wicked are cut off— you will see it.
35  I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil.
36  Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more— I sought for him,
     but he could not be found.
37  Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright— for the man of peace will have a posterity.
38  But transgressors will be altogether destroyed.  The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.
39  But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in 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.  

Sometimes it seems like it doesn’t pay to be good when the evil prosper and the good suffer If you’re not careful to cultivate the right perspective, you can be tempted to say “Forget it!” and join the evildoers. 

Even though David was anointed king as a teenager, he spent the better part of his early life running from the ungodly King Saul. On several occasions, David did the right thing by sparing Saul’s life, only to watch Saul return to his comfortable palace.  Also during that time, David and his men did right by a man named Nabal, protecting his shepherds and flocks from bandits. But when David asked a small favor of Nabal, in effect Nabal said, “Drop dead!”  

David wrote Psalm 37 to share his insights on this problem. The psalm reflects the wisdom he had gleaned from years of walking with God. Verses 37:1-11 deals with the idea of submitting to God; 37:12-26 speaks of contentment in Him; 37:27-40 expands on doing rightly; and, trusting the Lord to judge righteously recurs through the whole psalm. 

Even when the bad guys win, submit to God (37:1-11)
Submitting to God means putting off irritation, envy, and anger.  The Hebrew word “fret” means to burn.  Translated it could mean, “Don’t work yourself into a slow burn” when you see evil men prospering. Don’t let it get under your skin.  It will only lead you into wrongdoing. (37:8)  In submission to God we can put off such irritation, giving God the sovereign right to deal with evildoers in His time and way. 

We’re also commanded not to envy them. This confronts the selfishness and evil motives in our own  heart. Secretly we may wish to do the same thing. We want for ourselves the pleasures of sin which they are enjoying. We’re also commanded not to anger (37:8).  Submitting to God when I see the bad guys winning means putting off irritation, envy, and anger. 

Submitting to God means putting on trust, obedience, patience, and humility
Put on trust (37:3,5). “Trusting in the Lord” is taking action. It means that when evildoers seem to be winning, give the whole problem to the Lord and watch Him vindicate you. (37:6)

Put on obedience (37:3). “Do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” Leave things in God’s hands and go on with your business obediently before the Lord.  

Put on patience (37:7, 9). “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” That’s the hardest part about submission. It may take days, months, or years for God to act on your behalf.  But rest assured he is working on our behalf. 

Put on humility (37:11). To be “humble” or “meek” means to realize our own weakness and sinfulness so that we rely on the Lord, not ourselves. The person who finds his adequacy in the Lord rather than in himself has an abundant source of peace. 

Be delighted in the Lord (37:4). Trust, obedience, patience, and humility can all be summed up in the phrase, “Delight yourself in the Lord.” Be captivated with the Lord and all that He is. Rather than focusing on the things which the world seeks, focus on the Lord. In gaining the Lord, you gain everything else you ever need: “He will give you the desires of your heart.”   If you are delighting yourself in the Lord, then your desires will be in line with His desires. This is also recorded in Matthew 6:33,  “Seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness and all these things [your needs] will be added unto you.” 

If you’ve been wronged, get the longrange picture. God is a God of justice (37:28)
He will right all wrongs. David’s bottom line must be our bottom line: “The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble.  The Lord helps them and delivers them,  He delivers them from the wicked, and saves them—because they take refuge in Him”  (Ps. 37:39-40).

If you take refuge in God, you can trust Him to judge righteously on your behalf.