I don’t think I ever read this psalm in its entirety until today. The commonly quoted verse 4 does not give the psalm justice. In fact, I believe there are many more important verses in this psalm than this one. Verse 4 can be easily twisted to make us think, “God will give me all I want as long as I am a good boy or girl.” If you read the psalm, you will learn this is not the case. But before we get into God’s goodness, read the psalm again. It is easy for us to read passages like this and think of ourselves as the “good” ones. This time, read through it as an exhortation and reflect upon the wickedness that David talks about. Ask God to reveal to you if you are taking part in anything described here.
Now that we have examined ourselves, we can focus on trusting in the Lord. The point that David is driving home is that we will experience times where it seems evil is winning. The wicked are enjoying the fruits of their wickedness. “Sin is fun.” Yes, it is, but it isn’t edifying and over time it kills us. In Galatians 6:9 and 1 Thessalonians 3:13 the Apostle Paul wrote, “don’t grow weary of doing good.” Sometimes it seems as though doing the right thing (i.e. living in righteousness) doesn’t “pay off.” We wonder, “what is the point?” The point, my friends, is seen here in Psalm 37.
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
When Jesus was teaching in His Sermon on the Mount, He spoke of those who pray in public or make sure people see their offerings, or dress “humbly” so others would know they are fasting. He said, “they have already received their reward.” When we sin or act selfishly, yes we receive an immediate and usually satisfying reward. But it doesn’t last and in the end it tears us apart. It doesn’t edify us nor anyone else. Sure, it feels good, but the Lord says if we remain in Him, we will receive the earth as an inheritance and it will last forever. I don’t know about you, but this seems a little more worthy of my effort and patience than a temporary “feel good” moment.
David encourages us not to lose heart, because the wicked will one day be wiped off the face of the earth. They do their thing, get their little bit of pleasure, and then it’s over. However, if we trust and delight in the Lord, He will embed us with an everlasting joy that surpasses all of these worldly lusts and desires. “Don’t fret,” David says, for it will lead us down the path of envy, bitterness, and eventually falling in with this temporary crowd. But we are the Lord’s forever. Our motivation doesn’t come from the thought that we will die in a few decades; rather our actions carry an eternal consequence because we will live forever.
Let’s not be shortsighted. Trust and hope in the Lord. Receive your joy and pleasure from Him, for it is far better than anything this fallen world can offer.