Psalms 1 - 50by Mike Raiter
There is a famous saying that ″crime does not pay″. Is that true? It depends on your perspective. If this life is all there is, then clearly a life of crime often pays. Many criminals escape punishment, become wealthy, and live long lives. On the other hand, many good people never see worldly wealth and die young. However, if death is the great inescapable reality and afterwards comes judgment and eternity, then ″the wicked will be no more″ and the meek will enjoy peace and prosperity (Psalm 37:10-11).
We saw that Psalm 1 begins the book of Psalms by contrasting the character and destiny of the righteous and the wicked. Psalm 37 develops these themes.
Its opening verses begin and end with an exhortation not to fret over or envy the apparent success of the wicked (vv. 1, 7). It is easy to be angry at the injustice when, despite your loyalty and integrity, a colleague who is lazy or dishonest is promoted over you. But remember, says David, ″like the grass they will soon wither″ (v. 2; see vv. 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 28, 34, 36). The righteous are to keep living lives of faith and goodness, delighting in the Lord. As Peter writes about our faith in Jesus, ″you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy″ (1 Peter 1:8).
If we are not careful, we can let bitterness and resentment consume us when we see the success of the wicked. Instead, David calls us to ″be still . . . and wait patiently for him″ (Psalm 37:7). Long for and pray for the day when your righteous reward will shine like the dawn (v. 6). This is repeatedly described by David in terms of the righteous inheriting the land (vv. 3, 9, 11, 18, 22, 27, 29, 34). Jesus quoted verse 11 in the beatitudes when He pronounced that we, His disciples, are blessed, for ″the meek will inherit the land″ (v. 11; see Matthew 5:5).
We have the certain hope of the new creation where we will enjoy ″the things God has prepared for those who love him″ (1 Corinthians 2:9). In a rebellious world filled with injustice, God calls on us to keep the faith and remember that the Lord ″knows their day is coming″ (Psalm 37:13).
Can you think of times when you fretted over the prosperity of the wicked? How did you deal with these feelings?
What do you think David means when he tells us to ″be still″ (Psalm 37:7)? Is he telling us to do nothing and be quiet in the face of injustice? Or is there a more active kind of stillness?