February 12: Psalm 37

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February 12: Psalm 37
Wisdom psalm of God’s sovereign perspective
(an acrostic psalm looking to the New Creation)

Common meter 86.86 D         Forest Green (I Sing the Mighty Power of God), p. 70
Ellacombe (Hosanna, Loud Hosanna), p. 130
Fountain (There is a Fountain)

Have no disturbing thoughts about those doing wickedly,

and be not envious of those who work iniquity.

For even like the growing grass, soon be cut down shall they;

and like the green and tender plant, they all shall fade away.

Set thou thy trust upon the Lord; continue doing good.

Dwell thou securely in the land, make faithfulness thy food.

Joy in the Lord; He’ll grant each gift, for which thy heart may call.

Commit thy way unto the Lord, Trust Him; He’ll do it all.

And like the morning light He shall thy righeousness display;

And He thy judgment shall bring forth like noontide of the day.

Rest in the Lord; wait patiently; Fret not for anyone

who prospers in his wicked way, completing schemes begun.

Cease being thou by anger stirred; Make thou of wrath an end.

Fret not thyself, for fretting will to evildoing tend.

For evildoers soon shall be cut off, no more to stand;

But those who wait upon the Lord inherit shall the land.

For yet a little while, and then the wicked shall not be;

His place thou shalt consider well, but him thou shall not see.

The meek and humble of the land inheritors shall be;

and they shall then delight themselves in full prosperity.

The wicked plots against the just and grinds his teeth in wrath;

Because he sees his day will come, the Lord at him shall laugh.

The wicked men have drawn their swords and bent their bows to slay,

To cast the needy down and kill the men of upright way.

But yet the sword which they have drawn shall enter their own heart;

Their bows which they are bending shall in broken pieces part.

The little that the righteous has is more and better far

than great abundance many have who wholly wicked are.

For wicked arms shall broken be; The Lord the just sustains.

The Lord knows days of perfect men; Their heritage remains.

They shall not be ashamed when they the time of evil see;

And when the days of famine come, they satisfied shall be.

But wicked men, Jehovah’s foes like meadow flow’rs are they;

And they shall vanish as does smoke, they all shall fade away.

The wicked borrows, but his debt he never does repay;

Whereas the righteous gracious is, and freely gives away.

For those blessed by Him shall indeed inherit well the land;

And those who have been cursed by Him, cut off, shall no more stand.

The very steps of man have been established by the Lord;

He takes great pleasure in man’s way, his progress to record.

Though he may stumble, he shall not fall so he cannot stand;

Because Jehovah is the One who holds him by his hand.

I have been young, now many years have o’er my life been spread;

I’ve never seen the righteous left, his children begging bread.

All day he’s gracious and he lends; His sons a blessing are.

Depart from evil, and do good, and dwell for evermore.

Because Jehovah justice loves and never leaves His own,

They are preserved for evermore, but sinners overthrown.

The righteous shall inherit earth, and ever in it dwell.

The just man’s mouth will wisdom speak; His tongue will justice tell.

The law of God is in his heart, no stumbling steps he’ll make.

The wicked spies upon the just and seeks his life to take.

The Lord will never leave the just within the wicked’s hands,

Nor let the righteous be condemned when he in judgment stands.

Wait on the Lord and keep His way; exalt you then shall He

that you inherit shall the land, the wicked’s ruin see.

I saw the wicked, ruthless man, a tree whose leaves abound;

I passed one day and he was gone; though sought, could not be found.

Consider well the perfect man; the upright watch and see;

For certainly the man of peace shall have posterity.

But those who are transgressorts will be wiped out one and all.

Posterity of wicked men will be cut off and fall.

Salvation of the righeous ones is from the Lord alone.

He will a perfect refuge be in times distress is known.

Jehovah helps and rescues them; He will deliver them

From wicked men; He will them save because they trust in Him.

Have no disturbing thoughts about those doing wickedly,

And be not envious of those who work iniquity.

It is obvious that Psalm 37 has close ties to the Bible’s Wisdom tradition. If it were not part of the Psalter, we would expect to find it in Proverbs or one of the other Wisdom books. It appears to be a kind of discourse given by a parent to a child, or a wise teacher to a disciple. It is full of sound and godly counsel… It is a psalm in which the believer prays by placing his heart open and receptive to God’s word of admonition, warning, and promise. In this psalm, one part of the soul admonishes the other, reminds the other, cautions the other, encourages the other. And this inner conversation of the human spirit all takes place in the sight of God, the Giver of wisdom. (Reardon, p. 71-72)

In this Psalm’s frequent references to inheriting the land, we see a foreshadowing of Christ’s beatitude in Matthew 5:5. When Jesus spoke these words in the Sermon on the Mount, the allusion to this psalm must have been very clear, with its perspective on the righteous and the wicked. Indeed, the “long view” of God’s ultimate vindication of the righteous helps us to see the promises of inheriting the land as a window or type of the inheritance of New Creation which awaits the faithful who walk in the way of this psalm. In this perspective of eternity, wisdom’s promises contained in this psalm (and the parallels in Proverbs 16:3,8,9 and 3:7-8), though sometimes elusive in this present life, find their full vindication.

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