The Big Bumps
Do not worry because of evildoers,Nor be envious toward wrongdoers; For they will wither quickly like the grass,And fade like the green herb. Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good;Dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord,And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord;Trust in Him also and He will do it. He will make your righteousness [your pursuit of right standing with God] like the light,And your judgment like [the shining of] the noonday [sun]. Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him;Do not fret (whine, agonize) because of him who prospers in his way,Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and abandon wrath;Do not fret; it leads only to evil. For those who do evil will be cut off,But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. For yet a little while and the wicked one will be gone [forever];Though you look carefully where he used to be, he will not be [found]. But the humble will [at last] inherit the landAnd will delight themselves in abundant prosperity and peace. The wicked plots against the righteousAnd gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him [the wicked one—the one who oppresses the righteous],For He sees that his day [of defeat] is coming. The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bowTo cast down the afflicted and the needy,To slaughter those who are upright in conduct [those with personal integrity and godly character]. The sword [of the ungodly] will enter their own heart,And their bow will be broken. Better is the little of the righteous [who seek the will of God]Than the abundance (riches) of many wicked (godless). For the arms of the wicked will be broken,But the Lord upholds and sustains the righteous [who seek Him]. The Lord knows the days of the blameless,And their inheritance will continue forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,And in the days of famine they will have plenty and be satisfied. But the wicked (ungodly) will perish,And the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures and like the fat of lambs [that is consumed in smoke],They vanish—like smoke they vanish away. The wicked borrows and does not pay back,But the righteous is gracious and kind and gives. For those blessed by God will [at last] inherit the land,But those cursed by Him will be cut off. The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord,And He delights in his way [and blesses his path]. When he falls, he will not be hurled down,Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand and sustains him. I have been young and now I am old,Yet I have not seen the righteous (those in right standing with God) abandonedOr his descendants pleading for bread. All day long he is gracious and lends,And his descendants are a blessing. Depart from evil and do good;And you will dwell [securely in the land] forever. For the Lord delights in justiceAnd does not abandon His saints (faithful ones);They are preserved forever,But the descendants of the wicked will [in time] be cut off. The righteous will inherit the landAnd live in it forever. The mouth of the righteous proclaims wisdom,And his tongue speaks justice and truth. The law of his God is in his heart;Not one of his steps will slip. The wicked lies in wait for the righteousAnd seeks to kill him. The Lord will not leave him in his handOr let him be condemned when he is judged. Wait for and expect the Lord and keep His way,And He will exalt you to inherit the land;[In the end] when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked, violent man [with great power]Spreading and flaunting himself like a cedar in its native soil, Yet he passed away, and lo, he was no more;I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the blameless man [who is spiritually complete], and behold the upright [who walks in moral integrity];There is a [good] future for the man of peace [because a life of honor blesses one’s descendants]. As for transgressors, they will be completely destroyed;The future of the wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;He is their refuge and stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and rescues them;He rescues them from the wicked and saves them,Because they take refuge in Him.
What happens when someone bumps you? If you are holding a glass filled with liquid and someone bumps into you, whatever is inside will spilled out.
Our inner life is like that glass. We contain joy or depression, live or selfishness, peace or anger, the Holy Spirit or the spirit of self. A hard bump, for sure, will always reveal the inside contents of your heart and disposition.
David, in Psalm 37, had been thumped by an evil person (verse 1). Their plot against him (verse 12) has met with success (verse 7). He flounders (verse 24) while they flourish (verse 35). In his lowest moments of dealing with the pain inflicted upon him by another, however, David pours out a lengthy psalm filled with statements of trust in the Lord and uplifting self-talk to stabilize his own spirit.
From this psalm, we learn how to pray our way through moments of incredible anxiety and stress when we are powerless to change the hurtful circumstances around us.
Three times Psalm 37 says, “Don’t fret.” In other words, “Stay calm, don’t lose your cool and don’t let your passions overwhelm you.” Sounds good but easier said than done. Yet the priority of Psalm 37 is exactly that. We are to rein in our out of control reactions and keep them subdued.
Psalm 37 says that we are not to be envious of others. Why? Because those who choose to live wrong don’t last. David says that they are like the grass that withers and the green plants that soon die. Thirty of the verses of Psalm 37 contrasts the ultimate end of the wicked and the righteous. We are instructed to not look on the temporary prosperity of the wicked with envy for verse 38 says, “The future of the wicked will be cut off.”
The third thing Psalm 37 says is don’t be vengeful. Our natural reaction to being wronged is to try to get even. You know the words: “I don’t get mad, I get even.” God knows how painful it is to be hurt- consider the suffering of Christ- but He demands that we turn from wrath and abstain from anger. It is not our task to exact vengeance, it is the Lord’s. “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.”(Romans 12:19-21)
‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their disaster is at hand, And their doom hurries to meet them.’ “For the Lord will vindicate His people, And will have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their strength (hand) is gone, And none remains, whether bond or free.”
The more we fret, the more we stew, the more we boil, the more we stumble into evil and become ensnared. For Christ’s sake, the power of the Gospel enables us to even desire that the person who has wronged us be spared the judgement of God and rather that to experience His grace and salvation. We are instructed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us…as we forgive others…”
Psalm 37 provides a balance. Godly response to difficult or hurtful people must also include positive actions.
Psalm 37 provides five positive actions we need to take.
First, we are to “trust in the Lord.” If you’ve ever rode in a vehicle in which the driver was careless or incapable, I dare say that one ride was sufficient. You probably would never ride with such a person again. Why? Because you lost your trust in them.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a dark place where we can’t see our way clear. Like a pilot flying through the clouds, we must learn to rely on our Guide rather than our feelings. Pilots know that their sense of direction can be wrong even to the point of arguing with what the instruments are telling them. They know to choose to trust the instruments rather than their feelings. We must learn to trust Jesus when we cannot trust ourselves, others, or circumstances. He knows the way and His guidance is like the plane’s instruments- it can be trusted.
Second, we are “to do good.” Verse three doesn’t put a period after “trust.” It is joined by the words “and do good.” The implication is clear. Trust in the Lord has right actions as its companion.
Third,we are to “delight ourselves in the Lord.” Verse 23 tells us that the Lord delights Himself in us. He causes those who are wholly dependent upon Him(the meek) to inherit the land with an enduring inheritance. When life causes us to stumble, He upholds us so we don’t fall and at no time will He ever abandon us for He holds a glorious future for us.
Fourth, Psalm 37 instructs us “to commit our way to the Lord. Oswald Chambers said that we often try to think rather than to obey our way out of trouble. If we will simply do what the Lord says even when we don’t understand everything, we will emerge from the trial for He is leading us.
Fifth, and finally, we are told to “Be still.” We don’t like waiting. We want everything g to work on our schedule but it does t always happen. Others don’t cooperate. God doesn’t act on out time table. So we ask, “What am I to do?” Psalm 37 responds, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him….Wait for the Lord and keep his way.”
Crisis like that big bump will reveal what is really in us. Psalm 37 provides instructions about how we can have the right attitude when life hits us hard.
Dr. John Thompson