Sermon Notes • February 20

Psalm 37 God Will Have the Final Say

Introduction: For 2000 years the church has taught that if we follow Jesus and seek to do His will and to live the way we should, we will be blessed. The church has taught that the one who walks in the ways of the Lord will be blessed. We believe that righteousness counts with God. But when we look around, that doesn’t seem to be reality. We ask if it’s really worth it. 

All around us we see the obvious contradiction to the notion that the righteous are blessed and the ungodly are blown away like the chaff. It is clear that the guys on the top are often not the ones with the least scruples. They are often the ones who have walked all over others to get there. Having nothing to do with God does not seem to have hurt them. 

That very same issue was on the mind of King David when he wrote the 37th Psalm. He saw among his own people, and in the nations around him, those who were seemingly well off yet were in no way trusting God. So, David asked God, “Is it really worth it? Is it really fair? 

As God worked in the mind of David, he sensed God saying, “Don’t look about and see evil and desire it. Don’t envy those who have pushed their way to the top without regard for others. Don’t envy the seeming success of the wicked because in the end they will have nothing you and the man or woman of God will have everything.”

Overview: Three themes run throughout this Psalm:

  1. God cares for the righteous.
  2. While the wicked appear to succeed for the moment, their long-term success is doomed. (8, 22, 28, 34, 38)
  3. While the righteous might fall from time to time, God still holds onto them. Their ultimate destiny is secure. The faithful will inherit the land (9, 22, 28, 34).

Read Psalm 37:1-2. It is natural to envy those who seem to be getting ahead and appear to have it all. One of the sins of most of us is covertness and when we see all the wicked have it is easy to want it ourselves. Satan then quickly tells us we can have it, but at a small price. God has a different message. Read Proverbs 24:19. 

David wrote, “Do not fret” 3 times in this Psalm, in verses 1, 7, and 8. Literally “Don’t get all worked up.” The verb David used is very strong and is sometimes translated “don’t burn with anger.” David was saying, “Take your eyes off the wicked and put them on God.” The wicked are, “like the grass they will soon wither.” The wicked have shallow roots and shrivel up when difficulties come. Their success is very temporary.

In Psalm 37 we have 1 negative instruction, “Do not fret” and 4 positive instructions, “trust, delight, commit and rest.” If we follow the positive, we won’t be tempted to fret.

Read Psalm 37:3.Instead of envy, the believer’s life is to be characterized by trust. Trust or faith is always the starting place for any relationship with God. The wicked have put their trust in themselves and what they have. How different it is for believers. An individual trusts in God when he takes God at His word and is willing to walk by faith the road that he cannot always see. He knows that God has promised to be with him at every turn in the road and in the end the road leads home.

The difference between a religious man and a true Christian is the issue of faith, of trust. A religious man goes through all the practices and exercises of faith but has never personally committed himself to the Lord. He has never placed his trust in the one who has promised eternal life to all who believe. 

There is a difference between religion and Christianity, between knowledge about and possession of a truth, between going our own way and trusting in God and the provisions of the Cross. David wrote that the one whom God can and will bless is the one who has examined the facts, considered not only what appears to be reality in the world around but has seriously considered the truths of God’s Word.  

David added to trust, the phrase, “and do good.” Faith is not passive. It is active. So, David added “do good.” John Calvin said, “Faith alone saves but the faith that saves is never alone.” Real trust is seen in one’s actions. Real trust is going to make a difference in the way we act, the way we live. The very nature of real trust is that it impacts life. It impacts the way we act before Him. Read James 2:18 and then James 2:22. 

That command is followed with the promise that those who truly trust and do good will, “dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” For David, that imagery was the Land of Promise and carried two ideas. First, the Promised Land, and in particular the Temple, was where God dwelt, and he wanted to be with God and know His presence with him. 

Second,in David’s mindthe land was the place that flowed with milk and honey. It was a land where God’s blessing was evident. In a much deeper sense, it was a picture of dwelling in a place prepared by God for each of His children. It was the place of His presence where His provision is sufficient. 

Read Psalm 37:4. Before one makes a commitment to the Lord, he really wants little to do with God. Before one makes a personal commitment to God, one often sees God as harsh and legalistic. When one makes that commitment, however, his whole attitude changes and he discovers a God who loves him beyond imagination and gives a peace that passes understanding. He discovers God desires only his best and asks him to do only that which leads to real joy and blessing. And with that discovery he delights in his relationship with God.

The root word “delight” originally came from a word that carries the idea of pampering or living in luxury. It reminds us that if we allow Him to, God wants to pamper us. The word challenges us to live in the luxury of what God provides. The key is not necessarily more of the things which the world seeks and will do anything to achieve, but wanting more of God in our lives, wanting the richness of fellowship with Him. When we delight in God, we seek our happiness in Him. And that comes with a promise as follows, He will give you the desires of your heart.” The promise that we will get the desires of our hearts is given because when we delight in Him, we will only desire what He desires for us. That He will provide. 

Read Psalm 37:5-6.  “Commit your ways” is not a repeat of the trust in verse 3. Most commentators translated this phrase as “roll one’s way or burden onto God.” Read I Peter 5:7. When we look at those around us we see many who ignore God and God’s commands seem so successful. Difficult times will come and then they will not have what is often called “an invisible means of support.” It may seem at times like following God is holding us back but when difficult times come, we can cast our concerns onto Him. Read Matthew 11:28-30. 

Read Psalm 37:4. Being still can be seen as “be silent” and carries the idea of being patient as one waits for God to work. 

That is followed do not fret when people succeed in their ways.” We are not to fret over the wrong that doers seem to be getting away with it. We need to relax and give God time because in the end, when the big picture is done, we win. 

What a beautiful picture these verses portray of the individual who, instead of glorying in evil, chooses to yield Himself to God knowing that this is wisest. Think about the key words here, “trust, delight, be committed, and be still.” They are the phrases that characterize the life of one who refuses to sell himself out for momentary pleasure and success. They picture one who looks instead beyond the moment into eternity and chooses to sell himself out to the creator, preserver, judge, ruler of the universe. In doing that we discover we truly have what the world seeks and believes is important.