Today, Friday February 10
“Do Not Fret”
Psalm 37:1-11 A Psalm of David
“Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. 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 brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret--it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace..
As I begin to prepare for our chat today reading over Psalm 37, I couldn’t help but think that if there ever were a chapter we need to deal with our worries and fears, this is the one. I’ll never forget my very first year at Lynchburg Baptist College, (now Liberty University), as a brand new believer, I heard Dr. Falwell preach in chapel from this chapter and say that it was his favorite Psalm and that he had memorized it as a young pastor. I thought, if it meant that much to him, I need to memorize it too. Psalm 37 was the first whole chapter in the Old Testament that I memorized, and it sure has brought me great consolation and encouragement over these past 50 years of ministry.
We know from the title that David is the writer of this Psalm. From the chapter itself, we learn that he wrote Psalm 37 in his mature older years. In verse 25 he said: “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.” It is very possible that David sat down with his son Solomon and shared these words with him to prepare him for the throne. In 1 Kings 2:3 we read: “Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: "I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man.” See also Proverbs 23:17-18, 24:19-20.
I can see David sitting down with Solomon, with the Book of Job in his hand, as he discusses the age-old problem of why the righteous suffer while the wicked seem to prosper. Honest atheists and agnostics don't have to wrestle with this problem because their philosophy of relativism forbids them to use words like good, bad, righteous, and wicked. However, those who believe in God sometimes wonder why He allows the wicked to succeed while the righteous suffer.
The word "wicked" is found fourteen times in this Psalm. The theological foundation for the Psalm is the covenant promise that God made with Israel, recorded in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-30. God owned the land, and if the nation would keep His Word near and dear in their hearts, and obeyed Him, they could live in His land and enjoy its blessings. But if Israel disobeyed the Lord, He would first chasten them in the land with invasion from enemy nations around them, with drought and economic failure, and with famine. And if they continued to ignore His prophets and rebel, God promised that He would then take them out of the land and send them into captivity. (See Deuteronomy 11 and 33:28, and Leviticus 26:3-10.)
But even in David’s time, it seemed that the wicked were prospering and that God wasn't doing anything about it. Jeremiah dealt with the same question in Jeremiah 12. David notes that there are several things the righteous person could do in response. They could fret over the problem (vv. 1, 7-8), they could leave the land (v. 3), or they could go on being faithful, trusting the Lord to keep His Word (vv. 3, 5,7, 34,39).
Like any mature believer who had been through his own share of suffering, David took the long view of the situation and evaluated the immediate and the transient in terms of the ultimate and the eternal. He encouraged Solomon and the people to believe God's promises and wait on Him. In this Psalm, David gave four encouraging assurances to believers who question how God is running His world. And at least three times in these first verses he tells us not to fret.
Over the next few days, we will be looking at these promises and instead of fretting, worrying, and being fearful and angry, we will see why we should wait patiently for the LORD and trust in Him!