The Preacher's Special
the 37th Psalm
Daily in the Psalms 37
WE MUST NOT ENVY THE WICKED
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
There is no denying that there are those around us that live ungodly lives and seem to prosper. But a look at the big picture will reveal that there is little in the life if a wicked person that should cause the righteous to be envious. It is folly to envy a man because he is dressed in a king’s garments, because he might be a pauper in disguise. It cannot be denied that there are some very wicked people that seem to prosper, even while the godly seem to live in poverty and are despised. Many times it is very discouraging that those without God seem to be surrounded by all they could hope for. Let me remind you that it has always been this way, the words of the Psalmist proves it. Most of us have seen and experienced this for ourselves. There are those that live for this life only and do every unethical and selfish thing they can to accomplish their goals. Because they are so driven, it should not surprise us that they succeed. It is not only painful to see this; it is made even more hurtful by their personal pride and the admiration they receive from others. It is easy for the Godly to have discouraging thoughts and become envious. It is easy to wonder how those so unworthy could be so blessed. We must remember that God is in control and He always deals with men justly. It may not be on the timetable we think it should be, but God always does things well.
It is impossible not to notice the prosperity of the wicked, but we must not allow ourselves to become envious and develop a spirit that is displeasing to God. Envy will not fix the problem and it will not do us any good; in fact it will result in our harm. We may not rejoice in the fact that they prosper while we suffer need, but we can rejoice in the mercy and longsuffering of our God. We can also rejoice in the fact that things are not going unnoticed by a just and loving God. The prosperity of the wicked will soon wither in the grave and the blessings of the righteous will long endure. May I remind you that we are on our way to an eternal home in Heaven? We have no need to envy the temporal prosperity of the wicked. The Bible tells us that every act that is contrary to God comes from an impure heart. The person that is right with God cannot indulge in envy. If he does he will soon become like that which he envies. Envy is an acid that will damage the soul. It will hinder prayer and defile our relationship with God. The Bible teaches that those that are right with God will have a contented spirit and a joyful life. We must not yield to envy!
Envy is one of the lowest passions of man. It is a cruel companion and will affect and infect everyone around you. It not only ruins your relationship with God; it will ruin your relationship with men. God is a sovereign God and He has a certain plan for dealing with all men. Envy is the result of our rebellions against that sovereignty. The righteous must be patient, not envious. We can afford to wait on God because we are prosperous in the things that really count. We cannot always trace God, but we can always trust Him. Trust Him in the present and wait for His adjustments
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A GODLY LIFE
Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
The Psalmist begins this Psalm by saying that we are not to be fretful. Now he tells us to be trustful. This will always result in joy. Someone has said, “Life is what you make it.” God says that your view of life is determined by your inner spirit.
“Trust in the Lord” Faith and trust in the Lord is the noblest disposition of the soul and it is our greatest weapon against envy. Trust in the Lord influences and elevates our character. The Lord is completely worthy of our trust; He cannot and will not fail! He is always faithful and He will never leave us nor forsake us. We can place our life, our present circumstances, our reputations, and our future in His hands. We must not trust man, not even our own selves. Only those that trust Him can expect any help from Him.
“Delight thyself also in the LORD” Our joy is not sinful or carnal; it is spiritual and pure. It is delight in God, His character, His perfection, His love, and His wisdom. The joy of the Lord is our strength, both in sorrow and in service. God delights in our rejoicing in Him. The life of the Christian must be one of holy delight in God; our faith will inspire joy!
“Commit thy way unto the LORD” we are not to devote ourselves to our own way, we are to commit everything to God. Our way, our sorrow, our disappointments, our imperfections, our questions, our cares, and our circumstances are to be given completely into His hands. God has the whole world in His hands, but He also delights in directing the affairs of the individual that is devoted to Him.
“Rest in the LORD” This is the duty and the privilege of the Christian. Those of this world are doing all they can to make themselves rich, to chase after worldly pleasure, but they have no rest. God gives His children quiet rest. He calms our soul and silences our complaining tongue. What a sweet rest is found in Him!
“Wait patiently” We must be patient in suffering, in service, in adverse circumstances, in persecution, and when life seems to be a complete mystery to us. God and His will are worth waiting for. His time is always best. When He manifests Himself to us, it will more than compensate for the delay.
“They shall inherit the earth” Jesus promised that the meek shall inherit the earth. We must be contented with our lot, not haughty, defiant, or restless.
Every one of us ought to pray every day and ask God to help us have these characteristics in our lives.
“Thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed”
That is the way God allows us to feel at home in this sinful world. It is not our home, but our God will provide for us while we are here. We will be fed with this earth’s bread, but we are also fed with the bread that cometh down from Heaven.
“He shall give thee the desires of thine heart”
The desires of the Christian are the result of our faith and trust in Him, therefore they will be granted. The desires of a wicked man, if they were to be obtained, would prove to be harmful. But because the Christian can have desires that are in harmony with Him, our desires can be safely given to us.
“And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light”
The Christian is often maligned by the wicked of the world. They envy the beauty and character of our God that shows through our life. But in the darkness of our tribulations, God will bring the light of His glory.
“They shall inherit the earth”
The Word of God proclaims that this world is not inherited by those that are about its business or those that are driven by the flesh, but it is inherited by the meek. They inherit it by their contented spirit and because they enjoy what God has given them. This earth is a gift of God and we possess it in Christ.
“And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace”
The life of the Christian ought to be characterized by peacefulness. We ought to be at peace with ourselves, with God, and with men. God gives us peace.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The ungodly will be agitated by the thorns of this world, but the Christian knows the peace of God which passeth all understanding. We have a peace that cannot be broken by sorrow or sin!
THE DEVICES OF THE WICKED AGAINST THE GODLY
The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
The wicked have always plotted against the righteous and that plotting continues today. They hate the moral character of the Godly as well as the moral influence we have upon society. Because they are without Christ, there is no way they can understand the ways and motives of the righteous. Evil is always rebuked by good. The result of that rebuke is hatred, persecution, and an all-out effort to remove Godliness from their sight. They use all the resources at their disposal to accomplish their goals, not considering that the God of Heaven will hold them accountable for their actions.
“..and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.”
This indicates the depths of the wrath of the wicked against the righteous. If God did not limit them, they would utterly destroy those that follow Him. I am thankful that the wicked are held in check by God. But we must realize that as this world becomes more wicked and the wicked of this world become more emboldened, they are not intimidated by God, His Word, the opinion of society, oven the penalty of law. They are growing increasingly morally impotent and vulgar.
“The wicked have drawn out the sword…”
They have drawn out their weapons and are seeking every opportunity to use them against the righteous. They are not interested in Biblical debate, logical argument, of any other civil means; they are ready to do war by the most cruel and deadly means. They will employ all that their wicked minds can imagine. The wicked always rely more on the physical and material than the intellectual and the moral. There desire is to inflict the greatest injury possible. Their deeds are controlled by the lowest of minds.
“…and have bent their bow…”
They not only carry a sword, but also a bow. This tells us that they are willing to use any thing that they can against their foes. They take steady and determined aim and make use of all weapons available to them.
“…to cast down the poor and needy…”
The wicked do not seek out the strongest among the righteous to engage war; they seek the weak and helpless first. They attack the feeble and the meek that are unable or unwilling to defend themselves. The wicked are generally cowardly. They do not have the courage to match their rage nor the valor to match their determination.
“Their sword shall enter into their own heart…”
We have a promise from God that the very weapons the wicked plan to use against us will be turned against them. We must remember that this will be the work of God, not necessarily the work of our hands. God has often made it so that the wicked are hung upon gallows that they built for others. Their plottings are self-destructive, vain, useless, and will be broken by God. They will be cut off, their plans will be defeated as they outwit themselves and bring upon themselves the anger and retribution of a Holy God. Ultimately it is foolish for the wicked to plot against the righteous. We are not to fear them, but overcome them because of our trust in our God.
THE “LITTLE” OF THE RIGHTEOUS IS BETTER THAN THE “MUCH” OF THE WICKED
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
It is a fact that the righteous often have little while the ungodly have much. But the arithmetic of Heaven assures us that the “little” of the righteous is better than to “much” of the wicked. The little of the righteous is either the product of their own labor or the lawful inheritance of someone before them. The wicked often obtain their gain by fraud, schemes, and/or extortion from the poor and needy. We must always remember that the way in which wealth is gained determines its true value.
The righteous will be careful to wisely use what he has, will pray about his investments, and be unselfish in his giving. The ungodly are usually careless and selfish. Prayer and Godly generosity are great preservatives of wealth. Because what the righteous have was rightfully earned, it may be truly enjoyed. Because what the wicked have is usually unjustly gained, it is associated with unhappy deeds, unwelcome memories, selfish actions, and the fear of retribution. Therefore it cannot be enjoyed. The Bible teaches that the little of the righteous will go farther than the much of the wicked because the righteous are careful and they gather up the fragments that nothing is lost. The wicked are careless and often lose more than they gain. While they boast of their wealth, their ungodly associations drain them. When the little of the righteous is given to the Lord there is no way they can lose.
There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
The righteous will gain by giving and the wicked lose by withdrawing. The righteous can justly expect God to bless what they have. The wicked have no such expectation. No man will be rich without the blessing of God. May we learn to be satisfied with little, use it wisely, and make it sufficient.
THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WICKED AND THE GODLY
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.
The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
Here we see a clear contrast between the wicked and the righteous:
“A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.”
The wicked often have more, but are less content. The righteous are at peace, thankful, and happy, while the wicked are restless, ungrateful, and unsatisfied.
“For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.”
The arms are a reference of power and strength. The Bible says that the power of the wicked will be broken by the power of God as He exacts retribution and defeats their schemes. The strength of the righteous is not in their own arms; they are upheld by the superior power and safety of God.
“The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.”
“But the wicked shall perish…” The righteous are known by God; He knows their present state as well as their future. He knows every trial they face and He has reserved the glory of Heaven for them. The fate of the righteous is in the hands of God and He will deliver them, supply them, and give them the final victory. God also knows the wicked, He knows their hearts and He sees their actions. They will perish physically and eternally. There is a sure end to their hatred, schemes, and their wealth.
“The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.”
The wicked borrow to meet the demands of their ungodly lifestyles, their sinful pleasures, and their worldly vices. Sin is very expensive! It involves hopeless debt. The wicked are unable and unwilling to change their ways, they are dishonest in heart, so they do not pay their debts. The righteous are merciful and generous in spirit and God enables them to pay their debts because of their giving. That is why the Bible teaches that it is better to be a lender than a borrower.
“…yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
“but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” God has promised to take care of the righteous and even their children after them. He has also promised to cut off the wicked and even their children after them. That is because the seed of the righteous inherit from their parents a trust in God and the wicked inherit from their parents destructive habits.
The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.
I am grateful for the Christian heritage of our nation. Many that have gone before us knew the value of Biblical righteousness. America has been a blessed nation, but those blessing came from God as He honored righteousness. God help us to be reminded today that God is still in the blessing business, but He has not changed His requirements:
"Give up money, give up fame, give up science, give the earth itself and all it contains rather than do an immoral act. And never suppose that in any possible situation, or under any circumstances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing, however slightly so it may appear to you... From the practice of the purest virtue, you may be assured you will derive the most sublime comforts in every moment of life, and in the moment of death."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Peter Carr, 19 August 1785)
THE RIGHTEOUS WILL PREVAIL
The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
It seems that the Psalmist takes great pleasure in speaking of the righteous. He speaks of how God cares for them, their excellent character, their protection, and their bright future.
“The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.” Because the earth is the Lord’s and the righteous (saved) are the sons of God through Christ, they inherit all that is His. But they also have a great inheritance because of the work they do, the influence they have, the inspiration they give, and the testimony they leave behind.
“The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.” Good men are always known by their speech; they talk of good subjects and they talk of them wisely. His speech is moral and his speech reveals that he knows about judgment. The righteous man does not speak of the foolishness of this world; he has no interest or part in the conversation of the weak. He prefers to speak of the serious things of this life and of eternity.
“The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Knowing the Word of God is the secret of wise speech. Men who know God and His Law will have a more noble conversation. If men would only read the Bible more they would talk more wisely. The righteous man not only reads the Bible, he not only knows the Bible; the Bible dwells within him and he is controlled and transformed by its principles. Knowing, obeying, and speaking about the Word of God is elevating, preserving, safe, and sanctifying. Because the Word of God is the highest law, obedience to it makes a man more influential and worthy.
“The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. The LORD will not leave him in his hand,” The righteous are watched by wicked and cruel men and many times they are not aware of the danger they are in. But praise the Lord; they are also watched by Him! The Lord is their Sun and Shield and He is mightier that any human foe.
“The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.” Many times the righteous find themselves condemned by the wicked. They use secret slander, cruel hatred, violent plots, public opinion, and even the law of the land. But God promises that there will be a day when their condemnation will be reversed, their shame will be removed, their character will be cleared, and God’s infinite justice will prevail. The righteous can afford to wait for God’s time. Many are now under severe persecution and are longing for their darkness to be turned into light and their sadness turned into joy. A false sentence may be passed upon them now, but the future will reveal the truth. The righteous must remain pure because only a pure life can escape condemnation. What a joy that will be because it will not come by our own hand; it will be through the cross of Jesus!
“Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land” Although the Lord and His justice may tarry, the righteous must wait on Him. He is worth waiting for because when He comes all of our long-cherished hopes will come to pass. We must not only wait on Him; we must keep His way. It is the waiting and the keeping that brings the inheritance. God help us to talk wisely, obey diligently, watch carefully, and anticipate joyfully.
"My ardent desire is, and my aim has been...to comply strictly with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the United States free from political connections with every other Country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home."
-- George Washington (letter to Partick Henry, 9 October 1775)
THE TEMPORARY PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED COMPARED WITH THE PERMANENT DESTINY OF THE RIGHTEOUS
I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
The Psalmist begins with “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.”
Then he gives the reasons:
The glory of the wicked is brief
The reward of the righteous is promised
The righteous are protected by God
The righteous are guided by God
The inheritance of the righteous is sure
The future of the righteous is peaceful
So the righteous have no need to be envious of the wicked. But the Psalmist reviews and reminds us in these verses:
“I have seen the wicked in great power” Many times the wicked are very rich and surrounded by those that are rich. There are many that seek the company of the wicked because of their wealth. It is common for a lost man to seek the company of the wealthy rather than men of character. But those that constantly strive to keep up false appearances and rely on entertainment to gain social popularity are dangerous people because they most often lead others to moral ruin. The wicked often have social distinction. They gain popularity and influence in the circles in which they move. Sadly society often elevates these wicked people based on what they can give rater than what they really are. Many of the wicked are cunning and use fraud to work their way up the social latter. These things are a matter of history, the psalmist said that he had seen them, and so have we. History is a record of the wicked rising to great power. This may be perplexing to the righteous, but we must remember that the problem will one day be solved. Jesus will make the wrongs right! The wicked also are strong and arrogant. “spreading himself like a green bay tree” They have convinced themselves that their foundation is secure. They believe that their wealth and influence will never fade. They quickly forget or throw away modesty and humility.
“Yet he passed away” We have often seen the wicked pass from the heights of wealth to the lowest gutter of poverty. Usually when this happens their true character is revealed and society will throw them away like they threw others away. Such reverses are many times never anticipated, in fact, many believed it was impossible. The rich often believe that their wealth will protect them from all trouble. They are like a beautiful flower that has an insect eating at its root, invisibly taking its life. Their blissful calm suddenly bursts into a storm.
“I sought him” Sadly people are wealth that are seen and talked about by everyone suddenly fall and men come to see them, only to mock them and see if there is anything left to plunder.
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” This contrast between the wicked and the righteous is not only great, it is also happy. Good men are the charm of history and of life. To consider the end of the wicked causes us to seek the beauty and the safety of the righteous. The man that the Psalmist speaks of here, the perfect man, is a rare find. Therefore he is indeed worthy of note. Mark his moral life, his moral integrity, his moral actions, His godly work, his gentle spirit, and his influence on others. Note him, not as just someone to admire, but someone to imitate. We will usually become like those we admire. Moral character is the highest admiration we can have. As you note or mark the righteous man you will see that things do not always go easily with him. Sometimes his way may be dark and difficult, but he has a Divine guide for his journey. The psalmist reminds us of the end. The end of the righteous man is peace. We would like the good to live forever, but death is rude and takes them from us when we seem to need them most. But they gladly step over into that Heavenly land. Their departure may not always be peaceful, but the Bible promises that their end will be. They may leave this life by way of disease, but that is not the end. Peace and life with the Lord is the end for the righteous.
the 37th Psalm : Daily in the Psalms 36 Morning Devotional