This Psalm teaches us to admonish one another to understand the providence of God. We need to learn to accommodate ourselves to it and at all times carefully do our duty and then patiently leave events with God. We can believe that, however black things may look for the present, it shall be “well with those who fear God and who fear before Him.” Part 2 of Man’s Wickedness and God’s Perfections
Psalm 37 – Part 2 – A Psalm of David
But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish—like smoke they vanish away. The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land, but those cursed by Him shall be cut off. The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when He delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.
I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or His children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and His children become a blessing. Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever. For the Lord loves justice; He will not forsake His saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it for ever.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart, his steps do not slip. The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death. The Lord will not abandon him to his power or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial. Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land. You will look on when the wicked are cut off. I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree. But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found.
Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace. But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off. The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.
We are to act justly
Henry says – If we are to be blessed of God, we must make a conscious effort of giving back everything that has been borrowed, for the wicked borrows and pays not again, Ps. 37:21. It is the first thing which the Lord our God requires of us, that we do justly, and render to all their due. It is not only shameful but a sinful, wicked thing to not repay what we have borrowed. Some make this an instance of the wicked that they shall have to borrow and then not be able to repay it again, and so lie at the mercy of their creditors. It is a great sin for those who are able to pay but deny the payment of their debts, so it is a great misery not to be able to pay them.
We must be ready for all acts of charity for it is an example of God’s goodness to the righteous. He puts it into the power of his hand to be kind and to do good. God’s blessing increases his little to such a degree that he has abundance to spare for the relief of others. The goodness of the righteous man has a heart proportionate to his estate: He shows mercy, and gives, Ps. 37:21. He is ever merciful and lends, and sometimes there is as true charity in lending as in giving. Giving and lending are acceptable to God when they proceed from a merciful state of heart. If it be sincere, will be constant, and will keep us from being weary of well-doing.
We must leave our sins, and engage in the practice of serious godliness (Ps. 37:27): Depart from evil and do good. Cease to do evil and abhor it. Learn to do well and cleave to it for this is the action of true faith. We must abound in good conversation, and with our tongues must glorify God and edify others. It is part of the character of a righteous man (Ps. 37:30) that his mouth speaks wisdom. He not only speaks wisely, but he speaks wisdom, like Solomon himself, for the instruction of those about him.
Receive His law into our hearts
His tongue does not talk of things idle and with arrogance, but of judgment, that is of the Word and providence of God and the rules of wisdom for the right ordering of the conversation. Out of the abundance of a good heart will the mouth speak that which is good and for edification. We must have our wills brought into an entire subjection to the will and Word of God (Ps. 37:31): The law of God, of his God, is in his heart. We pretend in vain that God is our God if we do not receive His law into our hearts and resign ourselves to His government.
It is a mockery to talk of judgment (Ps. 37:30), unless we have the law in our hearts, and we think before we speak. The law of God must be a commanding ruling principle in our heart. It must be lit up within there and then the conversation will be orderly. None of his steps will slide, it will prevent backsliding into sin, and the uneasiness that follows from it.
Then we shall have the blessing of God, and that blessing shall be the sweetness and security of all our temporal comforts and enjoyments (Ps. 37:22): Such are they that are blessed of God, with the Father’s blessing and they shall inherit the earth Ps. 37:29). Our creature-comforts are comforts indeed to us when we see them flowing from the blessing of God. We are sure that we will not be in want of anything that is good for us in this world. The earth shall yield us her increase if God, as our own God, give us His blessing, Ps. 67:6.
By His grace and Holy Spirit He directs them
Those whom God blesses are thus blessed indeed and those whom He curses are cursed indeed. They shall be cut off and rooted out by the divine curse. That God will direct and dispose of our actions and affairs so as to bring Him the most glory (Ps. 37:23): The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. By His grace and Holy Spirit He directs the thoughts, affections, and designs of good men. He has all hearts in His hand, but theirs by their own consent. By His providence He overrules the events that concern them. He makes their way plain before them, both what they should do and what they may expect.
God orders the steps of a good man, his way in general and also by His written Word. He orders them by the whispers of conscience, saying, This is the way, walk in it. He does not always show him his way from a distance, but leads him step by step, as children are led, and so keeps him in a continual dependence upon His guidance. Because He delights in his way, and is well pleased with the paths of righteousness in which he walks. The Lord knows the way of the righteous (Ps. 1:6), He favours it and therefore directs it.
Because God orders his way according to His own will, therefore He delights in it. For, as He loves His own image upon us, so He is well pleased with what we do under His guidance. God will keep us from being ruined by our falls either into sin or into trouble (Ps. 37:24): Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down. A good man may be overtaken in a fault, but the grace of God shall recover him to repentance, so that he shall not be utterly cast down. Though he may, for a time, lose the joys of God’s salvation, yet they shall be restored to him. For God shall uphold him with His hand, uphold him with His Spirit.
There will come spring after the winter
The root shall be kept alive, though the leaf wither. There will come spring after the winter. A good man may be in distress, his affairs embarrassed, his spirit sunk, but he shall not be utterly cast down. God will be the strength of his heart when his flesh and heart fail, and will uphold him with His comforts, so that the spirit He has made shall not fail before Him.
He supports us so we shall not want the necessary supports of this life (Ps. 37:25): “I have been young and now I am old, and, among all the observations I have made, I never saw the righteous forsaken by God and man. Yet I have sometimes seen wicked people abandoned both by heaven and earth. Nor do I ever remember seeing the seed of the righteous reduced to such an extremity as to beg for their bread.”
Our Saviour has taught us to expect persecution for righteousness’ sake (Mark 10:30). It has such peculiar honours and comforts with it as to make it rather a gift (as the apostle reckons it, Phil. 1:29) than a loss or grievance. But there are very few instances of good men, or their families, that are reduced to such extreme poverty as many wicked people bring themselves by their wickedness. He had not seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging for their bread.
God will not desert us
If they do find themselves in want, God will raise up friends to supply them, without a scandalous exposing of themselves to the reproach of common beggars. This promise relates to those who are charitable to the poor. One gives freely, yet grows all the richer, another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want, Prov. 11:24.
God will not desert us, but graciously protect us in all our difficulties (Ps. 37:28): The Lord loves judgment. He delights in doing justice Himself and He delights in those who do justice. Therefore He does not forsake the saints in affliction when others desert them, but He takes care that they be preserved forever. The saints in every age shall be taken under His protection so that particular saints be preserved from all the temptations and through all the trials of this present time. They shall be preserved to that happiness which shall be forever. He will preserve them to His heavenly kingdom that is a preservation forever, 2 Tim. 4:18; Ps. 12:7.
We shall have a comfortable settlement in this world and in a better one when we leave this. That we shall dwell for evermore (Ps. 37:27), and not be cut off as the seed of the wicked, Ps. 37:28. They who make their rest and are at home in God shall not be tossed about. But on this earth there is no dwelling forever, no continuing city. It is in heaven only, that the righteous shall dwell forever. That will be their everlasting habitation.
The Lord will not leave him in his hand
We shall not become a prey to our adversaries, who seek our ruin, Ps. 37:32, 33. There is an adversary who takes all opportunities to do us trouble, a wicked one who watches the righteous (as a roaring lion watches his prey) and seeks to slay him. There are wicked men who are very subtle (they watch the righteous, that they may have an opportunity to do them trouble and have a pretence to justify themselves in the doing of it). But it may very well be applied to the wicked one, the devil, that old serpent, who desires to entrap the righteous and of his devices which we should not be ignorant of. He is that great, red dragon, who seeks to slay them who goes about restless and raging, and seeking whom he may devour.
But it is here promised that he nor his instruments shall prevail. The Lord will not leave him in his hand. He will not permit Satan to do what he wants, nor will He withdraw His strength and grace from His people, but will enable them to resist and overcome him, and their faith shall not fail, Luke 22:31, 32. A good man may fall into the hands of a messenger of Satan, and be sorely buffeted, but God will not leave him in his hands, 1 Cor. 10:13.
God will not condemn him when he is judged, though urged to do it by the accuser of the brethren, who accuses them before our God day and night. His false accusations will be thrown out, as those exhibited against Joshua (Zech. 3:1, 2), The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! It is God who justifies, and then who shall lay any charge of God’s elect?
Wait on the Lord and keep His way
We are pressed to Wait on the Lord and keep His way. The duty is ours, and we must mind it and make a conscious effort to keep God’s way and never turn away from it. But we need remember that the events are God’s and we must refer ourselves to Him for the disposal of them. We need to wait on the Lord, carefully observe His ways and conscientiously accommodate ourselves to them. If we make a conscious effort of keeping God’s way, we may with cheerfulness wait on Him and commit our way to Him. We shall find Him a good Master both to His working servants and to His waiting servants.
When good men are tempted to envy the prosperity of the wicked they are to fortify themselves against it and go into the sanctuary of God (Ps. 73:17). There he understands their end, and so causes us to understand it. By comparing that with the end of the righteous, it baffles the temptation and puts it to silence.
The end of the wicked shall be cut off (Ps. 37:38). Their end, will be cut off from all good and all hopes of it. A final end shall be put to all their joys, and they will be forever separated from the fountain of life. David had himself observed in this world—that the pomp and prosperity of sinners would not secure them from the judgments of God when their day should come to fall. (Ps. 37:36, 35): I have seen a wicked man in great power, the terror of the mighty in the land of the living. Seemingly firmly fixed and flourishing, spreading himself like a green bay-tree, which produces all leaves and no fruit.
There, there shall be peace
Yet David saw this bay-tree wither away as fast as the fig-tree before Christ. The total and final ruin of all sinners will shortly be made as much a spectacle to the saints as they are now sometimes made a spectacle to the world. (Ps. 37:34): When the wicked are cut off you shall see it. The transgressors shall be destroyed together, Ps. 37:38. In this world God singles out a sinner here and there out of many, to be made an example as a warning. But in the day of judgment there will be a general destruction of all the transgressors, and not one shall escape. Those who have sinned together shall be damned together. Bind them in bundles, to burn them.
The end of God’s poor despised people shall be preferment. A man’s piety may have hindered their preferment in this world, and put them out of the way of profit. But those who keep God’s way may be assured that in due time He will exalt them, to inherit the land (Ps. 37:34). He will advance them to a place in the heavenly mansions, to dignity, honour and true wealth. It will be in the New Jerusalem, to inherit that good land, that land of promise, of which Canaan was a type. He will exalt them above all contempt and danger.
There, there shall be peace, Ps. 37:37. Let all people mark the perfect man, and behold the upright. Take notice of him to admire and imitate him, keep your eye upon him to observe what comes of him, and you will find that the end of that man is peace. Sometimes the latter end of his days proves more comfortable to him than the beginning was. The storms blow over, and he is comforted again following the days of his affliction.
All is well that ends everlastingly well
However, if all his days continue dark and cloudy, perhaps his dying day may prove comfortable to him and his sun may set in brightness. If it should set under a cloud, yet his future state will be peace and everlasting peace. Those who walk in their uprightness while they live shall enter into peace when they die, Isa. 57:2. A peaceful death has concluded the troublesome life of many a good man. All is well that ends everlastingly well. Balaam himself wished that his death and his end might be like that of the righteous Num. 23:10.
The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord. It will be the Lord’s doing. The eternal salvation, that salvation of God which those shall see who order their conversation aright (Ps. 50:23), is likewise of the Lord. God is all-sufficient to them to whom Christ and heaven are intended. He is their strength in times of trouble, to support them under it and carry them through it. They shall be helped and delivered, to bear their burdens, and to maintain their spiritual conflicts.
God will help them to bear their troubles well and do good by them, and in due time, shall deliver them out of their troubles. He shall deliver them from the wicked who would overwhelm them and swallow them up. They shall be secured and the wicked will cease from troubling them. He shall save them, not only keep them safe, but make them happy, because they trust in Him. Not because they have merited it from Him, but because they have committed themselves to Him and have confidence in Him, and have thereby honoured Him.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
[Slide right to left] The Best is yet to be The law of the Christian life pushes forward Not in the experiences that lie behind. But for doing the will of God Which of itself is never confined. God’s will goes ahead, beckoning us to follow A never-ending open door. Leave then the things that are behind And reach forward to these that are before. At each new level new joys we find, As each new height we attain. Don’t fret then because life’s joys are fled. They will return again. There are indeed more in front What delight if all of them we could see So look up now, press forward The best is yet to be! By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer for the Day
Father, I come to You. May I be one who does justly, and renders to all their due. May I be ready for all acts of charity. Thank You that Your blessing increases my little to such a degree that I have abundance to spare for the relief of others. May I be one who gives freely, yet grows all the richer and not one who withholds.
May I leave my sins, and engage in the practice of serious godliness. Cause me to learn to do well and cleave to it for this is the action of true faith. Urge me to abound in good conversation, and with my tongue glorify You and edify others. May I speak wisely that which is good and for edification.
I bring my will into an entire subjection to Your will and Your Word. I receive Your law into my heart and resign myself to Your government. May Your law be imprinted in my heart and to think before I speak. Let Your law be a commanding ruling principle in my heart. Cause it to be lit up within, that my conversation be orderly. Then I shall have more of Your blessing.
By Your grace and Holy Spirit direct my thoughts, affections, and designs. By Your providence overrule events that concern me. Make my way plain before me, both what I should do and what I may expect. Keep me from being ruined by my falls either into sin or into trouble. Thank You that You will not desert me, but graciously protect me in all my difficulties.
Teach me to wait on You
May I make a conscious effort to keep Your way and never turn away from it. Teach me to wait on You, carefully observe Your ways and conscientiously accommodate myself to them. In keeping Your way, may I with cheerfulness wait on You and commit my way to You. I know that those who keep Your way may be assured that in due time, You will exalt them.
May I walk in uprightness while I live and so enter into peace when I die. I beg that my conversation be aright that I may see Your salvation. For You are my strength in times of trouble, to support me and carry me through it. You shall help me and deliver me, help me to do my duties, to bear my burdens, and to fight my spiritual conflicts.
I choose to make my rest in You to be at home in You and so shall not be tossed about. Help me to bear my troubles well and do good by them, and, in due time, deliver me out of them. Deliver me from the wicked who would overwhelm me and swallow me up. I declare that I put my trust in You. I know You will save me and make me happy. Not because I have merited it, but because I have committed myself to You and have confidence in You, and thereby may I honour You. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.