Summer in the Psalms ‘22 - Trust in the Lord and Do Good - Psalm 37
Topic: Trust Passage: Psalm 37
Summer in the Psalms ‘22
Grace Community Church
July 17, 2022
Trust in the Lord and Do Good - Psalm 37
Let’s turn together to another great psalm, Psalm 37 as we continue the summer in the psalms series.
Psalm 37 was written by David when he was an old man. We know that because in verse 25 David writes, “I have been young and now am old…” Psalm 37 presents the wise perspective of a man who has walked with God for many years and has seen with his own eyes where righteousness leads and where wickedness leads. Let’s pray.
Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.[b]
4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.
Psalms 37 opens with the admonition, “fret not yourself” or, “don’t fret. The Hebrew word “fret” is a difficult word to translate into English. It comes from the verb to burn, or to be kindled. We often associate it with worry and certainly worry is one characteristic of fretting, but fretting can also take the shape of anger, or envy, or resentment. To fret is to get worked up, to be vexed, over something or someone.
For some reason I haven’t yet figured out my laptop has started to run hot. The fan is almost always on. I suspect that there might be too many processes running all the time, but I’m not sure. But that’s kind of a picture of what fretting does to us. Our minds and emotions run hot. Our RAM is used up processing (fretting over) whatever it is that keeps us up at night and steals our peace by day. Fretting is an inner burning.
Another characteristic of fretting is that it wears away at us. Verse 8 warns us that fretting tends towards evil – fretting doesn’t take us to a good place. Instead it drains and wears away at our soul. Our souls weren’t designed to fret.
Proverbs 14:10 says, each heart knows its own bitterness. Every heart knows its own fretting too. David as a younger man was tempted to fret over the evil people in his life who were always conspiring against him. This psalm, like so many proverbs, toggles back and forth contrasting the wicked man with the righteous man. Evil men who prospered in their wickedness burned David (especially since a lot of time
their wicked plots were aimed against him). Our hearts might know a different fretting.
Ironically, while I was working on this message, a thought snagged my heart and I began to fret about it. I know I was fretting because it tried to drain my heart of faith and replace it with a weary discouragement. Each heart knows its own fretting. Is there something that you are fretting over? That keeps you up at night? That drains you of faith and makes you feel weary? That burns in your heart with anger/worry/envy?
Psalm 37 reminds us that there really are only two paths: the path of evil and the path of God. Our soul will either be centered on ourselves (leads to evil) or centered on God (leads to life and peace and blessing). David says, whatever you do, don’t envy the evil person even if it looks like they’re doing better than you, even if they’re prospering and you’re barely making it. Because their success and prosperity will be very short-lived.
For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Vs. 2
In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. Vs. 10
12 The wicked plots against the righteousand gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,for he sees that his day is coming. Vv. 12-13
But the wicked will perish;the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away. Vs 20
With the wisdom of old age, David as a true shepherd guides our souls towards God. He urges us to make God the center of our life. I wish we had the time to go through the entire psalm – and I encourage you to read through it on your own – but let’s look at four God-centered exhortations David has for us.
- Trust in the Lord and do good (vs. 3)
Center your confidence in God. Whatever is going on in your life trust in the Lord for He
is worthy of your trust. He will never fail you, He will never leave you, He will never let
you down. When our souls are tempted to fret, have faith instead.
Now, I think a lot of Christians have a passive idea of what trust is. We tend to think trust is something that runs in the background, like a computer process, as I live my life. I don’t get that from this verse. Trust in the Lord and do good! Let your trust in God energize you to do good. Let your trust in the Lord be an active trust – how can I demonstrate my trust in God by doing good?
David isn’t talking about doing good as a way of earning salvation. All you need to do is read through David’s psalms to know that he leaned on God’s grace and forgiveness with all his might. In fact, for all David’s condemnation of the evil man, David himself did evil. The Bible literally says that what David did with Bathsheba and Uriah was evil in the Lord’s sight. We’ll talk more about that when we come to psalm 51, but David did evil, and was able to receive forgiveness from God through repentance.
Our righteousness before God is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith. 100%. We aren’t saved by doing good. But we are saved in order to do good!
I love the simplicity of this – trust in the Lord and do good! Help the helpless, give to the poor, care for the hurting and oppressed, defend the defenseless, serve others, love even your enemies and pray for them. Do good!
In the couplet, David says dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. God has given you a patch of land. It’s where you live, it’s who you live with, it’s the circle of influence you have, it’s the resources you have. Befriend faithfulness. Be a faithful woman, be a faithful man. Live such that people know they can depend on you – keep your word.
Doing good often isn’t doing big, impressive acts of goodness. Most of the time doing good is being faithful to do what God has given you to do. Dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
This centers our confidence in God – trust in the Lord and do good.
- Delight yourself in the Lord (vs. 4)
This centers our affections on God. If there’s anything that the ebb and flow of this world’s tide pushes us away from, it’s delighting in God. Our carnal flesh wants to delight in everything but God. Delight in pleasure. In money. In power. In sex. In popularity. In people’s approval. In being left alone.
Brothers and sisters, God doesn’t want His church to be a cold place where our heads are filled with doctrine but our hearts are cold towards God. The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and mind and strength and soul. Passionate love!
The fact that that feels weird is a testimony to how sin has bent us in the wrong direction. We want to love and be loved. Our hearts long to belong. We want a home. As our Creator and the perfect, infinitely beautiful One who is of more value than everything else combined, God is the only One truly worthy of our deepest worship and highest delight.
David encourages us: stir that up. Work at delighting in who God is, in delighting in His perfect ways, in delighting in His love, wisdom, faithfulness, compassion, and grace, and God is going to reward you by giving you the desires of your heart. Now that doesn’t mean God writes you a blank check that you can fill out any way you desire. It means that the more you desire Him and His ways, the more He can give you what you desire.
When our affections are centered completely on this world (which is temporary and passing) the more we will and should fret. But when we center our affections on God, fretting will give way to satisfaction as
God gives us what we desire.
- Commit your way to the Lord (vs 5)
This centers our will in God’s will. Committing our way to the Lord means obeying Him. It means seeking to align our way with God’s way, our will with God’s will.
Commit your way to the Lord doesn’t paralyze us until we know what the Lord’s way is. It says commit your way to the Lord. Don’t be afraid to move when you aren’t sure what God’s saying. Don’t be afraid to make decisions even when you don’t have a clear word from God. Move forward (in your way) and commit it to the Lord.
If He reveals to you that His will is for you to go in a different direction, then obey Him and change directions. Trust God to act as you commit your life to Him.
If you’re starting out in a new venture or a new direction, commit your way to the Lord. Entrust that new venture to God and ask Him to help you do it His way, not yours. If your way has been a long obedience in the same direction, commit your way to the Lord and keep going. Trust in Him and He will act! Believe it! Don’t give up, believe!
Even if things look dark and bleak, the Lord will cause your life to shine with His righteousness and justice. The contrast is those who do evil might have a season where their lives look bright and everything is going their way, but the end is darkness and hopelessness. There may be time as we commit our way to the Lord where things may look dark and hopeless, but God will cause His light to rise on us so that we reflect His righteousness and justice to the world. Jesus said we are the light of the world (little lights to his great light).
Commit your way to the Lord centers our will in God’s will.
- Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him (vs 7)
This centers our souls on the Lord.
Last week I closed by encouraging you to find 5 or 10 minutes each day when you can get quiet before the Lord. Waiting on the Lord is a powerful practice. Isaiah says those who wait on the Lord will rise up with wings like eagles, with God-given strength they shall walk and not grow weary, they shall run and not faint. Psalm 46 says, “be still and know that I am God.” Being still helps us experience the transcendence, the glory, the goodness, the love of God.
Waiting on the Lord in quiet centers our souls, our hearts, our thoughts, on God. Our prayer life shouldn’t be all talking to God but we should leave time to be silent before God. We don’t get silent often enough.
That word patiently tells me it doesn’t always come quickly. The Lord takes His time to meet us. Be patient. Don’t hurry. Don’t be impatient.
I had to replace a wifi card in my laptop (sorry to have so many illustrations about my laptop) and to help me know how to do it I watched a YouTube video. The guy who did it did a nice job, but the thing that stood out to me most was as he was instructing about pulling tiny pins or battery plugs from the motherboard, he would always say, “be patient, you don’t want to damage anything.”
As I did it, I had that ringing in my ear: be patient. It slowed me down. It reminded me of the value of patience. Be still, wait for the Lord, and be patient. If He delays, be patient and keep waiting for Him.
David counterpoints this with fretting. Be still, don’t fret. Fret leads to rushing, snap decisions, impatient movements and we can do damage both to our lives and to the lives of others when we move out of impatient fretting.
Wherever the Lord has you, whatever season the Lord has you, David tells us the way to peace and blessing isn’t found in fretting. It’s not found in the path of the wicked or godless even if for a short time they look like they’re flourishing. Peace and blessing and life is found in centering our souls and our lives on God.
- Center our confidence in God by trusting in the Lord and doing good.
- Center our affections on God by delighting ourselves in the Lord
- Center our will in God’s will by committing our way to the Lord
- Center our souls on God by being still and waiting patiently for the Lord