Psalm 37 - Don’t Envy the Wicked

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret —it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.
The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
But the wicked will perish:
Though the LORD’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed.
The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.
Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the LORD loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
the offspring of the wicked will perish.
The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.
The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
Hope in the LORD
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in 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.

Do you ever envy the wicked? We sometimes do, don't we, envying them their wealth and success. In Psalm 37, the psalmist warns against his, telling us that while the wicked might prosper for a time, they will ultimately perish. Consequently, the psalmist encourages us to trust in the Lord instead, doing good and delighting in him. He contrasts this trust in God with the wicked, who trust in their own strength.

Right through this extremely lengthy psalm, the psalmist reassures us that God is ultimately in control and will reward those who trust in him. For example, in verses 5-6, the psalmist writes, "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun." Similarly, in verse 25, the psalmist writes, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread."

This, however, doesn't answer a question many of us have. Why do the wicked prosper, and why do the righteous suffer? One reason is that God has given human beings free will. This means that people are free to make choices, both good and bad. The wicked may choose to pursue wealth, power, and other worldly goals, and may be more successful in achieving them because they have no scruples about how they attain success. However, their success may be temporary and ultimately unfulfilling.

On the other hand, the righteous may suffer because of the actions of others or because of circumstances beyond their control. For example, they may face persecution or injustice because of their faith or their commitment to doing what is right. However, the righteous can take comfort in knowing they follow God's will and will ultimately be rewarded for their faithfulness.

It's important to remember that God's justice may not always be immediately apparent. We may not understand why certain things happen or why certain people seem to prosper while others suffer. However, we can trust in God's goodness and sovereignty, knowing that he is ultimately in control and will make all things right in the end.

So, let us, as the psalmist encourages, "hope in the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt us to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, we will see it" (Psalm 37:34).