Book #1: 1-41, cont’d.
Psalm 36:1-4-David says that the wicked man is guided by his sin, even as the righteous man is guided by God. The wicked man finds a warped sense of satisfaction in his own sinfulness (:2). Instead of despising evil, he actually embraces it and plans for more.
Psalm 36:5-12-David says that the character of God extends beyond all of creation...and guides the man who follows Him. He identifies four specific characteristics of God’s nature:
- “lovingkindness” (:5,7,9)…This is the Hebrew word “hesed”. It speaks of loyal love, or covenant faithfulness.
For a more detailed explanation of the meaning of “hesed” see:
- “faithfulness” (:5)…literally firmness; figuratively security; morally fidelity
- “righteousness” (:6,10)…rightness (abstractly), subjectively (rectitude), objectively (justice), morally (virtue) or figuratively (prosperity):—justice, moderately, right(-eous) (act, -ly, -ness).
- “judgments” (:6)…
…properly, a verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judicially, especially a sentence or formal decree (human or (participant's) divine law, individual or collective), including the act, the place, the suit, the crime, and the penalty; abstractly, justice, including a participant's right or privilege (statutory or customary), or even a style
Notice that each of these characteristics are described in terms of having great degree or extent…”lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens”, “faithfulness reaches to the skies”, “righteousness is like the mountains”, “judgments are like a great deep”. David saying that in all of His characteristics God is complete, total, and perfect. And as such, there is none who could ever be compared to Him. He then expands on how the “lovingkindness” (:7-10) and “righteousness” (:11-12) of God are beneficial to those who worship the Lord.
This Psalm is an alphabetic acrostic...every second verse beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. He uses short proverbs, or statements of truth, to encourage those who worship the Lord to continuously trust in Him.
Psalm 37:1-2-Don't be concerned about those who are evil...their time is limited.
Psalm 37:3-9-David uses several short phrases to admonish us in regards to how we are to relate to God…
- “Trust in the LORD” (confide in, set your hope in, have confidence in)…”and do good” (do the right things for God, live according to your trust in God) (:3)
- “Dwell in the land” (make a decision to live with God, to follow Him)…”and cultivate faithfulness” (work at doing things that will increase your faith in God) (:3)
- “Delight yourself in the LORD” (the word “delight” literally means to be soft, pliable…so, allow God to mold and shape you)…”He will give you the desires of your heart” (“desires” means petitions, requests…when your life is shaped by God, then your prayers will be in keeping with His will and will be answered) (:4)
- “Commit your way to the LORD”…(“commit” literally means “to roll, to roll together”…so, we are to roll, or gather, our way, everything about our life into one place and give it completely to the Lord) (:5)
- “Trust also in Him”…(trust God to do the right things for you…the right things are found in verse 6) (:5)
- “Rest in the LORD” (“rest” means to be silent, still…not anxious and worried)…”do not fret” because of the wicked…God has all things in control
Psalm 37:10-15-The point that he is making is to not allow our attention to be focused on the wicked, but on God. This is a very important warning. If we are not careful, we can become so caught up, so distraught, at what the wicked are doing that we will become worried and anxious (:7). Without even participating in their wicked deeds we are affected by them. They can even cause us to become angry and wrathful (this is rage, hot displeasure) (:8). And if we are not careful, it can lead us to “evildoing” (this word speaks of doing evil that has no benefit, is non-productive) (:8). Remember, in due time they will face judgment for their behavior (:9-10,12-15)…and the righteous will be rewarded for theirs (:9,11). David makes an interesting statement here. He says that the “Lord laughs at him”. The wicked think that they are getting away with something, that there are no consequences for their behavior…but the Lord knows everything at laughs at their arrogance. He not only sees their behavior, but He also sees the judgment of their behavior (:13). Their behavior will come back to haunt them as their judgment (:14-15).
Psalm 37:16-22-David tells them to keep in mind that even though the wicked may prosper now, it is only short-lived. The righteous may suffer for a time…but his reward will be beyond compare. He reminds them of the eternal care of God for the righteous and the coming judgment of the wicked.
Psalm 37:23-26-David says that God will protect and provide for the righteous. David has seen this with his own eyes. David says that a mans “steps” are “established by the LORD” (:23). The word “steps” speaks figuratively of every step, every single aspect of a person’s life. If God knows the very steps that our feet take…then surely, He is completely aware of everything else that is going on. The word “established” means to be made secure, stable, and corrected. The word “delights” means to be eagerly mindful of something, to take pleasure in paying attention to something. In other words, God takes pleasure in keeping us secure in every step we take. This is vividly pictured in verse 24 where we see a father holding the hand of his son. When the child begins to fall the father steadies him. David says that he has seen this happen over and over, again. It has been his experience that God always cares for those that worship Him.
Psalm 37:27-40-David compares the future of the righteous with the future of the wicked. For the wicked there is no future. On the other hand, the righteous will be blessed forever. Notice the words used to speak of the destiny of the wicked as compared with those used to speak of the destiny (and God’s protection) of the righteous…
- “cut off” (:28,34,38)…meaning that they will die and no longer have the opportunity to know God and His blessings
- “he passed away and was no more” (:36)
- “he could not be found” (:36)
- “transgressors will be altogether destroyed” (:38)
- “posterity of the wicked will be cut off” (:38)
- “abide forever” (:27)
- “does not forsake His godly ones” (:28)
- “preserved forever” (:28)
- “will inherit the land” (:29,34)
- “dwell in it forever” (:29)
- “his steps do not slip” (:31)
- “will not leave him (the righteous) in his hand (the wicked)” (:33)
- “or let him (the righteous) be condemned when he is judged (:33)
- “the man of peace will have a posterity” (:37)
- “the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD” (:39)
- “He is their strength in time of trouble” (:39)
- “the LORD helps them” (:40)
- “and delivers them” (:40)
- “delivers them from the wicked” (:40)
- “saves them” (:40)
By showing the stark contrast between the destiny of the wicked and God’s protection of the righteous and their destiny…David is encouraging the righteous to trust in God. They should trust God no matter how difficult things may be for them at the moment. And, they should trust God, despite the fact that there appears to be an inequity between how well the wicked are doing as compared to how well the righteous are doing. Trust God because of His protection in the present and His promise for the future.
Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You. Don’t let me be envious, or jealous, of the short-lived gains of the wicked. Help me to live a righteous life…one that in keeping with Your character and brings glory to You. Help me to remember the promises that You have made. Those that deal with Your care and protection of me in this life and those that speak of the reward that You have for me in Heaven.