Tag Archives: Devotional

Do Not Fret, Pt 4

When you plant a vegetable garden you envision what it will look like in the end. You see rows of corn, beans, onions, tomatoes, etc. all evenly spaced out, ripe, and ready to harvest. Do you see any weeds? No. And you start planting knowing they will come. But it is the look of the end product that got you started and will keep you going. Oh, that it would be so with our lives.


from strategiesonline.net

The following is taken directly from Boice Expositional Commentaries by James Montgomery Boice.

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Look Ahead

The second answer to how we are to remain calm when the wicked prosper is part of what I have already been saying. We are to look ahead as well as looking up, because if we do, we will see that those who do evil only flourish for a time and then are thrown down, while the people of God are preserved in the meantime and rewarded at last. Verses 9-11 develop this second idea, saying,

For evil men will be cut off,

but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;

though you look for them, they will not be found.

But the meek will inherit the land

and enjoy great peace (vv. 9-11).

It is hard for most of us to take the long view, because we are consumed by the present. But we need to do it if we are to grow in grace and begin to understand something of what God is doing in this world.

Do Not Fret, Pt 3

How are we to remain cool when we see evil men prospering?

The answer is to get our eyes onto the Lord. This does not mean we ignore evil. This question is about keeping our cool so we don’t let anger take us.

Think of Jesus cleansing the Temple. Were the people in that Temple “prospering?” Were they “evil” people? This Psalm directly applied to Jesus situation. How did He handle it? He remained cool and composed, but he had righteous anger that drove every ungodly person out of the Temple.

  1. He saw the evil.
  2. He made a scourge of cords.
  3. He drove them all out.
  4. With poise He taught them (Mark 11:17).

The following is taken directly from Boice Expositional Commentaries by James Montgomery Boice.

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The Quiet Spirit

The first eleven verses are the most direct exposition we have of the third beatitude, which is where they end. They describe the quiet spirit of one who trusts in God and does not fret because of evil men.

The note is struck at the very beginning, in verses 1 and 2: “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.”2 The words “do not fret” literally mean “do not get heated,” which is also how we might express it. Or we might say, “Don’t get all worked up.” Or even “Be cool.” This is what the psalm chiefly wants to say to us. So in case we might miss it, the words “do not fret” are repeated three times, being found in verses 1, 7, and 8. They are the recurring theme of this section.

But how are we to do it? How are we to remain cool when we see evil men prospering? Especially when they prosper at the expense of truly righteous persons, as is often the case?

The beatitude says, “the meek . . . will inherit the earth.” But it seems to us that it is the ungodly who get it.

Nice guys finish last!

How can we not fret when we see that happening?

Verses 3-11 give two answers to those questions: We are to look up, and we are to look ahead.

Look Up

The most important answer is to get our eyes off the wicked and even off ourselves and on the Lord. More than that, we are to trust him and commit our way to him. I suppose there is hardly a place in all the Bible better suited than these verses to teach us how to live godly lives and grow in the love and knowledge of God, which is what the godly life is about. They tell us to do five things.

“Trust in the LORD” (Ps 37:3)

Trust is faith. It is the proper starting point for all right relationships with God. Yet as always, faith is not merely passive but active too, and not merely God-related but related to others. This is why the verse adds the words “and do good.” It means that the person who is quietly trusting God will experience the life and power of God in his or her life and that this new life will express itself by doing good to others. I often say when I am teaching about faith as the channel of justification that there is never any justification without regeneration and that the one who is regenerated will necessarily lead a new life. In other words, although we are not saved by works but rather are saved by the grace of God through faith, faith will inevitably express itself in right conduct.

Faith (trust) has three elements:

  1. notitia or “content,”
  2. assensus, which is personal “consent to” or “agreement with” that content, and
  3. fiducia or “trust.”

The last point involves personal commitment to God, just as marriage involves a personal commitment of each marriage partner to the other. God has committed himself to us. We must commit ourselves to him if we are to be Christians.

[Does your faith involve all three of these components?]

“Delight . . . in the LORD” (Ps 37:4)

Before people are converted, they resist a relationship to God, because they do not think that God is desirable. They suppose him to be moralistic and harsh, establishing rules intended only to keep people from fulfilling themselves or having fun.

The truth is entirely different, for the God we come to know in salvation is entirely delightful. He is holy, to be sure. He is also the sovereign, exalted, awesome God the Bible everywhere pictures him to be. We cannot trifle with him. He cannot be taken lightly. But in addition to understanding those incontrovertible truths, the one who trusts God also finds him to be a source of exquisite delight. For he is the perfection of grace, compassion, mercy, kindness, patience, and love. He is, in other words, like Jesus Christ, and the better we know him the more we inevitably delight in him. The reason many apparent Christians do not delight in God is that they do not know him very well, and the reason they do not know him well is that they do not spend time with him.

The promise attached to this verse is that if we delight in God, God will give us the desires of our hearts. This does not mean that God will give us any foolish thing we may long for. It means that if we are delighting in God and longing for God, God will give us himself.

[Have you considered looking at God as the perfection of virtues? Does this make Him more trustworthy or less in your eyes?]

“Commit your way to the LORD” (Ps 37:5)

The command to “commit” our ways to God is not a redundancy, something that has already been covered in what it means to trust God (assent and commitment to a specific content), but actually carries us further in showing what it means to live with God whom we trust and in whom we delight. The word actually means “to roll one’s way onto God,” the figure being, as H. C. Leupold says, to “dislodge the burden from your shoulders and lay it on God.” 1

This is what the apostle Peter was thinking about in 1 Peter 5:7—in fact, he was probably referring to Ps 37:5 explicitly—when he wrote, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” He meant that we do not need to worry about things, because God cares for us, is equal to all circumstances, and will manage anything that can possibly come into our lives.

[Do you know how to dislodge the burden from your shoulders and lay it on God? How?]

“Be still before the LORD” (Ps 37:7)

One of my favorite quotes is from Blaise Pascal who said that the basic thing that is wrong with the world is that man “does not know how to stay quietly in his own room.”2 It is a good thought, expressed in humorous and therefore memorable language. But this fourth step in the life of godly trust in God goes beyond simply sitting quietly. It tells us to be still “before the LORD,” that is, to “wait patiently for him,” as the verse goes on to say. In other words, mere stillness is not enough. What is needed is a quiet waiting upon God. As we go on in our study of this psalm we are going to see how important waiting is. This is because the psalmist’s ultimate answer to the problem of the prosperity of the wicked is that the end is not yet; the wicked will be brought down and the godly will be lifted up, but only in God’s time.

[Do you know how to stay quietly in your own room? What is the key for you for doing that?]

“Refrain from anger” (Ps 37:8)

P. C. Craigie says that “almost certainly” this is anger against God.3
But whether it is against God or only against those who are doing wrong, particularly against ourselves, it is a mark of the godly person that he or she is able to maintain a settled and calm frame of mind because of trusting God.

[Does this mean anger controls you or you control your anger?]

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1H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), 303.

2Blaise Pascal, The Mind on Fire: An Anthology of the Writings of Blaise Pascal, ed. James M. Houston (Portland, Oreg.: Multnomah, 1989), 96.)

3P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50, vol. 19 of the Word Biblical Commentary (Waco: Word, 1983), 297.

Do Not Fret, Pt 2

I need daily reminders to keep my worries and put my evil tendencies in check. I need reminders that bring me into the presence of the All Powerful One who is worthy of all my trust. These posts seek to be part of those daily reminders.

Have you ever stopped to simply think through the ways of the righteous and the ways of the wicked? Do we even notice such things or are we too distracted? Have our faculties to judge become seared? Did you know that Jesus commanded us to judge?


John 7:24

Have you written anything in your old age?

How would you outline this Psalm?

Here is my simple outline:

  • How To Take Refuge In The Lord (1-8)
  • The Righteous And Wicked Contrasted (9-40)

The following is taken directly from Boice Expositional Commentaries by James Montgomery Boice.

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Ps 37 is another acrostic psalm. That is, each of its stanzas of double verses begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The acrostic psalms are Ps 9-10; 25; 34; 37; 111; 112; 119, and 145.

Some of the best-loved verses in the Old Testament come from this psalm. Here are some examples:

Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart (v. 4).
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this . . . (v. 5).
Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked (v. 16).
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread (v. 25).

That last verse establishes the psalm as a psalm of mature wisdom. If it was written by David, as the title says it was, it was apparently composed by him in his old age after a lifetime of reflection on the ways of the righteous and the wicked and of God’s dealings with each.

Like most acrostic psalms, this one is fairly hard to outline. Mostly it seems to be a string of aphoristic sayings, like portions of Proverbs. Yet certain themes dominate various sections of the psalm as one moves through it, and these give a framework for study. I suggest the following five sections:

the quiet spirit (vv. 1-11),

the way of the wicked (vv. 12-20),

the ways of the righteous and the wicked contrasted (vv. 21-26),

an old man’s counsel to the young (vv. 27-33), and

taking the long view (vv. 34-40).

We will look at the first two of these sections in this chapter and the last three sections in the next.

Do Not Fret, Pt 1

Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

How do you remain gentle when the world has gone mad?

I need daily reminders to keep my worries and put my evil tendencies in check. I need reminders that bring me into the presence of the All Powerful One who is worthy of all my trust. These posts seek to be part of those daily reminders.

I don’t know how many parts there will be to this series on “Do Not Fret.” In a time that could do with less evil, I want to follow the admonition given in this Psalm. Particularly,

Psalms 37:8 …Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.

So many things in this world are unraveling. Do not fret. My family is divided and disintegrating. Do not fret. My church and government are fragmenting. Do not fret. This will be the mantra of my life for the time being. And it will be my statement to the world. Do not fret.

The following is taken directly from Boice Expositional Commentaries by James Montgomery Boice.

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Not to Worry: Part 1

Blessed Are the Meek

Psalms 37:1-4
1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
2 For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.

 

Psalms 37:10-11
10 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
11 But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

An important principle of Bible interpretation is progressive revelation. Progressive revelation means that a doctrine that is introduced in an early portion of the Bible is unfolded more fully in later sections. A good example is the Bible’s doctrine of what lies beyond death. Ideas of the afterlife are rudimentary and scarce in the Old Testament, but they are developed at length in the New Testament after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The same is true of the doctrine of the atonement. Salvation by substitution is taught in the Old Testament, but it is only explained fully after Jesus accomplished it by dying for his people.

Yet it sometimes works the other way. An Old Testament passage sometimes expounds a New Testament verse more fully.

Ps 37 is a case in point. The eleventh verse of this psalm has to do with meekness and is quoted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). He used it as one of the beatitudes: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5). That teaching is not explained by Jesus, certainly not in the Sermon on the Mount. But it is what Ps 37 is all about. So it is right to say that Ps 37 is an exposition of the third beatitude, even though it was written a thousand years before Jesus began his public ministry. It unfolds the character of the meek or trusting person in the face of the apparent prosperity of the wicked.

Take Refuge In Him

The Lord helps them and delivers them;
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
Because they take refuge in Him.
Psalms 37:40

Strength (v39), help, deliverance, and salvation come to those who take refuge in the Lord. How do you take refuge in the Lord? Remember to follow the dictates of this Psalm.

1: Fret not yourself because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers

3: Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

4: Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

5: Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

7: Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way.

8: Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not yourself, it leads only to evildoing.

27: Depart from evil, and do good, so you will abide forever.

34: Wait for the Lord, and keep His way.

37: Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a posterity.

The following is taken directly from The Treasury of David by Spurgeon.

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EXPOSITION

And the Lord shall help them. In all future time Jehovah will stand up for his chosen. Our Great Ally will bring up his forces in the heat of the battle.

He shall deliver them from the wicked. As he rescued Daniel from the lions, so will he preserve his beloved from their enemies; they need not therefore fret, nor be discouraged.

And save them, because they trust in him. Faith shall ensure the safety of the elect. It is the mark of the sheep by which they shall be separated from the goats. Not their merit, but their believing, shall distinguish them. Who would not try the walk of faith? Whoever truly believes in God will be no longer fretful against the apparent irregularities of this present life, but will rest assured that what is mysterious is nevertheless just, and what seems hard, is, beyond a doubt, ordered in mercy. So the Psalm ends with a note which is the death knell of the unhallowed disquietude with which the Psalm commenced. Happy they who can thus sing themselves out of ill frames into gracious conditions.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

And the Lord shall help them. He shall, he shall, he shall. Oh, the rhetoric of God! the safety of the saints! the certainty of the promises! — John Trapp.

Luther closes his Exposition of the Psalm with the words, Oh, shame on our faithlessness, mistrust, and vile unbelief, that we do not believe such rich, powerful, consolatory, declarations of God, and take up so readily with little grounds of offence, whenever we but hear the wicked speeches of the ungodly. Help. O God, that we may once attain to right faith. Amen.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER

Ver. 39-40.

1.    The doctrines of grace condensed.

2.    The experience of the gracious epitomised.

3.    The promises of grace summarised.

4.    The grandest evidence of grace declared: because they trust in him.

Battery Charger

But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
He is their strength in time of trouble.
Psalms 37:39

Like a battery charger on a device whose battery is running low, God is our strength in time of trouble. Turn to Him. Pray to Him. Listen to Him.

The following is taken directly from The Treasury of David by Spurgeon.

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EXPOSITION

But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord. Sound doctrine this. The very marrow of the gospel of free grace. By salvation is meant deliverance of every kind; not only the salvation which finally lands us in glory, but all the minor rescues of the way; these are all to be ascribed unto the Lord, and to him alone. Let him have glory from those to whom he grants salvation.

He is their strength in the time of trouble. While trouble overthrows the wicked, it only drives the righteous to their strong Helper, who rejoices to uphold them.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER

Ver. 39-40.

1.    The doctrines of grace condensed.

2.    The experience of the gracious epitomised.

3.    The promises of grace summarised.

4.    The grandest evidence of grace declared: because they trust in him.

God’s Projects

But transgressors will be altogether destroyed;
The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.
Psalms 37:38

This reminder of the future for the wicked forces us to take our eyes off ourselves and put them onto God. We worry about our plans and our life and get fixated on our troubles. Well, God has plans and a life too so to say. He is at work in the world on projects that outspan our lifetime. In the end all accounts will be settled. Do not be in the red on that day. This is a reminder: transgressors, wicked, destroyed, cut off.


2 Pet 3:10-13

The following is taken directly from The Treasury of David by Spurgeon.

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EXPOSITION

But the transgressors shall be destroyed together. A common ruin awaits those who are joined in common rebellion.

The end of the wicked shall be cut of. Their time shall be shortened, their happiness shall be ended, their hopes for ever blasted, their execution hastened on. Their present is shortened by their sins; they shall not live out half their days. They have no future worth having, while the righteous count their future as their true heritage.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

The end of the wicked shall be cut off. The wicked in this world do easily run up without rub or interruption, many times with acclamations and applause, all the golden steps of honours and preferments; but upon the highest stair they find the most slippery standing, and the top of their earthly felicity is the most immediate and certain descent unto the greatest downfall. They are royally mounted here upon earth, and gallop swiftly over the fair and green plains of plenty and pleasures; but at the end of their race they are overturned horse and man, and tumbled headlong into the pit of destruction. They fairly glide over the sea of this world with full sail, with much calmness and serenity, and richly laden; but in the brightest sunshine, and when they least suspect it, they suddenly and without recovery, sink into the gulf of darkness and desolation. — Robert Bolton.