Bible Focus: Psalm 37
The little that the righteous person has is better than the abundance of many wicked people. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD supports the righteous.Psalm 37:16-17 CSB
The other day, I visited my dentist’s office for what was supposed to be a routine cleaning. But as I settled down in the chair, I knew that I hadn’t been doing a good job keeping up with my own dental hygiene, especially when it came to flossing.
In truth, I hadn’t been flossing much at all. After brushing my teeth at the end of the day, I would sometimes think about flossing, but I just wouldn’t feel like spending those extra few minutes. So I’d put it off, figuring that I could just floss another day. But another day would come and I would let it slide again. It became too easy to simply ignore the need to floss.
But my visit to the dentist’s office changed my perspective. I discovered that I had gum disease that required treatment. And after spending a much longer (and more expensive) time in the dentist’s chair, I decided that those extra few minutes of daily flossing were well worth it.
We humans are too easily enticed by quick rewards that cost too much and fade too quickly. This is especially true when it comes to us trusting God. We often struggle to make the choices that would lead us closer to God and bring us long-lasting fulfillment. And we can’t help but notice that other people ignore God and yet seem to be doing just fine.
Psalm 37 is attributed to King David. The psalm urges everyone to not be fooled by the apparent success of wicked people. Instead, it advises everyone to trust God and obey him, saying that God’s favor and provision is better than anything we might gain outside of God’s will.
Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong. For they wither quickly like grass and wilt like tender green plants. Trust in the LORD and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.Psalm 37:1-4 CSB
King David did not always have an easy life. He struggled against wicked people throughout his life, even after he became king. But David experienced God’s favor and provision as he continued to trust God and follow God’s commands. David also saw wicked people that were once strong and powerful wither away and disappear from the scene.
Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land. You will watch when the wicked are destroyed. I have seen a wicked, violent person well-rooted, like a flourishing native tree. Then I passed by and noticed he was gone; I searched for him, but he could not be found. Watch the blameless and observe the upright, for the person of peace will have a future. But transgressors will all be eliminated; the future of the wicked will be destroyed.Psalm 37:34-38 CSB
Psalm 37 clearly makes the case that trusting and obeying God is always better. But there is one question under the surface that is not directly answered: How does one become sufficiently righteous? Psalm 37:38 says that “transgressors will all be eliminated,” yet all of us transgress God’s commands. King David himself was once guilty of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11-12). And Jesus said that lust was like adultery and anger was like murder (Matthew 5:21-22,27-28). If we are honest, we have to admit that we all make choices that are wrong in our own eyes and in the eyes of God.
But here’s the good news. Through the death of Jesus, God grants righteousness to those who trust in him. He did this for all those who trusted in God before Jesus came, and he does this for all of us who trust in Jesus now (Romans 3:22-26, 4:1-8).
In the long run, trusting Jesus is infinitely better then ignoring him. His gift of righteousness changes our entire future. When we trust in Jesus, he forgives our sin, reconciles our relationship with God, and teaches us how to follow him. And while we’ll still have troubles in this life, we will always have God in this life and in the next. We will never be separated from him again.
The LORD watches over the blameless all their days, and their inheritance will last forever. They will not be disgraced in times of adversity; they will be satisfied in days of hunger. But the wicked will perish; the LORD’s enemies, like the glory of the pastures, will fade away—they will fade away like smoke.Psalm 37:18-20 CSB
Featured image from Jeffrey Clayton on Unsplash.