I remember a few years ago preaching a sermon on Psalm 73, a psalm where the author is suffering and struggling with his faith in God, particularly in the light of what he sees around him where evil people seem to flourish. In fact, he confesses that:
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (73:2-3)
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments. (73:13-14)
At the end of the service a man came up to me and asked, “Have you read its opposite number, Psalm 37?” I guess I had at some time but couldn’t recall it and so wondered at the relevance of his question. He suggested I read it when I get home, which I did, and was enlightened as to the reason for his question. I discovered that Psalm 37 was a poem exhorting us to place our confidence and trust in God despite what we see around us and particularly concerning the activities of those who do evil.
It would seem that, maybe, Asaph, to whom Psalm 73 was attributed, could have saved himself some pain and frustration if he had read, understood and applied the truths of Psalm 37, attributed to David. Most probably Asaph had read it, but like many of us do far too often, he had been overwhelmed in the midst of his suffering and trials and forgotten past lessons, until reminded again by God, which in time, was his experience.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their [evil men’s] final destiny. (73:16-17)
And he concluded:
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (73:25-26)
If you have time read both Psalms together.
And so, Psalm 37 begins:
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
“This psalm is well known, the fruit of mature pondering on the ways of God, a timeless piece of writing worthy of committal to the memory. The psalm calls for absolute trust [in God].” (# 39)
And Kidner says;
“There is no finer exposition of the third Beatitude (Matt. 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.) than this psalm, from which it is drawn (verse 11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.) It is a wisdom psalm: it speaks to man, not God, and its tone and style have some affinities with Proverbs, whose message of the righteous man’s security is the central topic here.” (# 27)
Father, we want to be people who take to heart the teachings of this wonderful psalm. In the midst of a world where at times evil seems to be in charge we want o be able to see the bigger picture – You and your eternal purposes! May we, as we enter into worship of you, “understand” as your Spirit enlightens us, and live differently. Teach us to delight in you always. Amen.