We are 3-dimensional people! God has created us to live in the present, be conscious of what has occurred in the past, yet be able to prepare for the future (as far as that is possible). Of course, our age, our culture, our attitudes, etc. will determine how much importance we give to each dimension. As a generalization, young people are often totally caught up with the present, the young to older adult may be often striving to better themselves into the future, and the older person may sometimes be caught up in their memories of the past.
This psalm is written from the perspective of a man who says of himself:
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken. (37:25)
And, so his desire is to teach us to be patient in the midst of troubles and even opposition and injustice and to trust God for the outcomes of our life.
Wilcock says about this psalm that it is “about waiting and patience and hope and the long view.” (# 5) And all this in the midst of a hostile world. Things haven’t changed much in that way anyway.
In other words, there is no “instant gratification” offered here, but there is hope in God and his ultimate purpose in life.
The psalmist says:
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming…
16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty…
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed.
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
Considering that this is a Wisdom Psalm, Broyles offers some helpful advice on how to get the most from this psalm. He says:
“The primary purpose of proverbs [and therefore this psalm] is to instruct “the simple” and “the young” to understand and practice wise attitudes and conduct (Proverbs 1:1-7,8; 2:1-11; 3:1). They offer observations on the general pattern of life (Proverbs 24:30-34) and do not pretend to offer blanket guarantees…They teach primarily by contrasting the “way” (i.e. lifestyle or pattern of conduct) of the “righteous” and the “way” of “the wicked” (Proverbs 2:12, 20; 4:11, 14, 18). The prime test in this contrast lies with the ultimate “end” or outcome (Proverbs 5:4, 11; 14:12-13; 19:20)…The same concern…appears in the conclusion of our psalm (vv. 37-38)…Its aim is thus to instruct people to follow Yahweh’s way (v.34) to its ultimate outcome (v.37) in spite of temptations on route.” (# 4)
As you may recall, it is this truth that helped the author of Psalm 73 as he struggled with “the prosperity of the wicked” (73:3). He said, “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply, till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their [evil men’s] final destiny. (73:16-17)
Psalm 46:10 says: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
And always remember this truth: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Father, too often I am caught up in my little world, my little concerns, my priorities, my problems and I need to see things from your perspective. So, help me to stop in the midst of my life. To look back at what you have done, to look forward and see your big picture and to daily trust and rest in you. Amen.