John Steward of Jesus
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Psalm 37

Our table reading this evening was from Psalm 37.

It is the chapter which has come back to help keep my thinking in perspective more than any other since I was shaken about twenty-four years ago to realize that human history is not what it is commonly understood to be. It is good encouragement for those who realize they can't carry enough water to cross the desert.

I believe everyone who reads through the chapter will find something which speaks to his heart, so I am including it below with my encouragement to read it now.

Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in Yahweh and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in Yahweh
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to Yahweh;
trust in him and he will do this;
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before Yahweh and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret--it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in Yahweh will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.

The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but Yahweh laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.

But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but Yahweh upholds the righteous.

The days of the blameless are known to Yahweh,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

But the wicked will perish:
Yahweh's enemies will be like the beauty of the fields,
they will vanish--vanish like smoke.

The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
those Yahweh blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be cut off.

If Yahweh delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm;
though he stumble, he will not fall,
for Yahweh upholds him with his hand.

I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be blessed.

Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
For Yahweh loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.

They will be protected forever,
but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;
the righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.

The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks what is just.
The law of his God is in his heart;
his feet to not slip.

The wicked lie in wait for the righteous
seeking their very lives;
but Yahweh will not leave them in their power
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

Wait for Yahweh
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a green tree in its native soil,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.

Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
there is a future for the man of peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
the future of the wicked will be cut off.

The salvation of the righteous comes from Yahweh;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
Yahweh helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

(NIV, with Yahweh substituted for the LORD)


I can understand the "wisdom literature" of Psalms and Proverbs by treating statements in them as generalizations which do not apply in every specific instance, similar to "Smoking causes cancer", or "Eating apples promotes health".

Finding instances which seem to contradict the generalization does not disprove the generalization. The statement is intended to indicate what is usually or generally true.

In the Psalm the observations relate to what is the prevailing pattern of Yahweh's dealing with his people. Saints throughout the ages have witnessed to the reliability of the statements. My own experience and observation can be added to their testimony.