Read Psalm 37
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight 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 do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
20 But the wicked will perish:
Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed.
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.
27 Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the Lord loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.
30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.
32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
33 but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
34 Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.
38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
In today’s reading we see the clear and repeated theme of how we should respond when the bad guys win. We are reminded that it is God that created the universe and it is God who has the final word in every situation. David, in his older years, writes to us after years of witnessing the bad guy come out on top. We, of course, see this all too often in our own lives. So how do we keep the faith and be content in our current circumstances? Psalm 37 describes that a life of doing good reaps abundant peace while a life of evil leads to destruction.
Verses 1-11 tell us to submit to God, to do good, and then we will inherit the land. Verses 12-26 tell us to be content in God and let Him be the judge. Verses 27-40 tell us to act justly even when others wrong us. David writes with such conviction because he is writing from first hand experience. King Saul tried to kill David time and time again. David had the opportunity to kill Saul many times, yet spared his life only to watch Saul return to his comfortable palace. David, on the other hand, went back to a cold, dark cave. David abided in God, and in return, God cultivated in him a right perspective of justice. This perspective allowed David to be content in every circumstance, because he knew God would be the ultimate judge.
Like David, when we see evildoers prosper, we must submit to God, fully trusting that He will judge righteously. Psalm 37 repeatedly tells us that the righteous will “inherit the land” (verses 9, 11, 22, 29, and 34). David is saying that God will bless those who stand firm in His promises and that the righteous will be given what they need as long as they trust in the Lord. These promises are what we can cling to when hope seems lost, when we have been wronged, and when justice feels distant.
It would be easy to fall into the mindset of those who are evil, especially when outwardly they find success. Let us remember, though, that at the end of the day, we serve a God who has the final word. Even if the bad guys win every time here on earth, God has the ultimate victory and those who follow Him will reap the ultimate reward of being with Him forever.
- What would it look like for you to submit to God? What is standing in the way of you doing that?
- Have you witnessed the “evildoer” win in your own life? What happened?
- How can you remain content in unjust situations?
God, I ask for strength to push past my doubt, for wisdom to know that you have me right where you want me, and for patience when I feel wronged. Increase my belief that when the “bad guy” wins, you are still in control and want what is best for me. Thank you for going before me and leading me, help me to draw near, even when the odds are stacked against me. You win every time, and for that, I am grateful.