37:0We call a person that writes a psalm a ‘psalmist.’ Here it might have been David, or one of his friends. The psalmist saw that many evil people had everything that they wanted. They did what they liked. Nobody stopped them. They hurt poor people that did not have very much. The psalmist began to feel very angry. Then he thought that if he was angry it would not give him any help. He remembered that one day God would put things right. The psalmist just had to wait for that day.
Psalm 37 is an alphabet psalm. Verse 1 begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, verse 3 with the second letter, and so on. Other alphabet psalms are 9, 10, 25, 34, 111, 112, 119 and 145.
Waiting for God
This psalm is for David.
How to wait
1 Do not make yourself angry because of what evil people do.
Do not feel that you want to be like them.
They are always doing wrong things.
2 They are like grass that will soon become dry.
They will die just as green plants do.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good things.
Live in the land and you will be safe.
You will enjoy what it gives to you.
37:3How do you wait for God to do something? How do you stop yourself getting angry because godless people have everything that they want? The psalmist tells us how: do something else! In verse 3, he starts telling us the things that we should do so that we do not become angry. He says:
– Trust in the Lord, or ask God for help
– Do good things, or give help to people around us
– Enjoy what the land gives, even if it is not much
We are happy with the Lord if we obey him. He will then give us all that we need. It might not happen immediately, but it will happen. We must learn to wait for God's time. This means the time when God decides to do something.
4 Be happy with the Lord.
He will give to you what you most want.
5 Promise that you will give yourself to the Lord.
Trust in him and he will do all this.
6 You are righteous. That will shine out like the dawn.
You are a fair person. That will be like the sun at midday.
37:6In verse 6, there are 2 pictures. One is of the dawn, the other of the sun at midday. Just as everybody sees these things, so everybody will see what sort of people we are. But, as verse 7 says, we must wait for God to do something.
7 Remain still in front of the Lord.
Wait for him to do something.
Do not make yourself angry because other people are doing well,
or because they are making bad plans.
37:7He will show people what we are like. We must not become angry if they do not see it. We must be still and wait! The Hebrew word for ‘be still’ in verse 7 means ‘do not make a noise’ as well as ‘do not move.’
8 Stop being angry with God and do not get heated inside.
Do not make yourself angry, it only brings trouble.
37:8We should not get angry with anyone. Another way to say ‘get angry’ in English is ‘get heated (hot)’ about something. As you can see in verse 8, it is the same in Hebrew. When we get angry with someone it usually leads to trouble.
9 Evil people will become cut off,
but people that wait for the Lord will inherit the land.
37:9The word ‘cut off’ in verse 9 means ‘destroyed.’ When the Jews came from Egypt to Israel with Moses, God cut off or destroyed their enemies. Then the Jews received their land. The enemies were the Canaanites that lived in the land before the Jews. This verse tells us that what God did in the past he can do again. This time it is not the Canaanites that God will destroy. It will be all the evil people that make life hard for God's people.
Then there will be peace. There are 3 sorts of peace:
– No fighting wars with other people
– No fighting against yourself
– No fighting between us and God
Jesus taught his people that the land that they would inherit (or receive) would be the kingdom of heaven. That is the place where Jesus is king. When the psalmist wrote Psalm 37, ‘the land’ meant where the Jews lived. It is important to understand that Jesus said that it meant more than this. The psalmist thought that ‘waiting for God’ meant that one day things would change, perhaps for his children. Jesus taught that one day things would change for everyone. That day will be when Jesus comes back to the earth. But everybody must wait for God: he may do something now!
10 Soon the godless man will be gone.
If you look for his place, you will not find him.
11 The meek will inherit the land.
They will enjoy wonderful peace.
The end of godless people
12 A godless person makes bad plans against a righteous one.
The godless person shows his teeth to him.
13 The Lord laughs at the godless person,
because he can see that his day will come.
37:13‘His day’ in verse 13 is the time when God will tell godless people that they have done many wrong things. The ‘his’ means both God and the godless person, man or woman.
14 Godless people get out their swords and point their bows:
· to make poor and helpless people fall,
· to kill people that walk on the right road.
15 But their swords will go into their own hearts.
Their bows will become broken.
16 Righteous people may have little power,
but that is better than the noise all the godless people make.
17 The Lord will keep righteous people safe,
but will destroy the power of bad people.
18 The Lord knows the days of blameless people,
but their inheritance will last for ever.
37:18‘The days’ in verse 18 means ‘the life’ of the righteous person, man or woman. God knows their days, or how long they will live.
This part of the psalm is really all about godless people. For Jews, 3,000 years ago, the important word was in verse 18: inheritance.
The Jews might not see godless people destroyed, but their children probably would. Later, the Jews began to believe in a new heaven and a new earth. Christians also believe this. They believe that one day Jesus will come back to the earth. Then there will be a new heaven (sky) and a new earth. That is when they will receive their inheritance. godless people will not receive an inheritance. But there are also promises here for Christians before the new heaven and earth come. Until that day, God will give them help. He will keep them safe and give them food. Many Christians know that this is true, even in the worst times.
19 They will not be disappointed in a bad time.
In days of famine, they will have enough.
20 But godless people will die.
They are enemies of the Lord.
You will not see them.
Like something beautiful, or like smoke, they will disappear.
37:20In verse 20, the psalmist is probably thinking of a beautiful field. One day the grass will disappear like smoke from a fire. The godless will be like this.
God will help righteous people
21 When people lend something to a godless man, he does not give it back.
Righteous people are kind and give things away.
37:21In verse 21, the godless man does not give back what he ought to give back. The righteous man does not ask for it back.
22 The people that the Lord says good things about will inherit the land.
The people that he curses he will destroy.
23 If the Lord likes the way that a man is going,
he will give him help.
24 Even if that man trips over, he will not fall.
The hand of the Lord will hold him up.
25 I was young and now I am old.
Yet I have not seen the righteous man forgotten by God.
I have not seen his children asking people for food.
37:25In verses 25, 26 and 28 we find the word ‘children.’ In the Hebrew Bible, the word is ‘seed.’ This is a special Bible word. The context (which means ‘where we find it’) gives us help to understand it. In verses 25 and 26, it means ‘children’, but in verse 28, it may mean ‘ideas.’ In the New Testament of the Bible, it can mean ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christians.’
26 He is always kind. He lends things to people.
People say good things to his children.
27 Turn away from evil and do good things.
Then you will live for ever!
28 Because the Lord loves justice, he will not forget his saints.
He will care for them for ever,
but he will destroy the children of the godless.
37:28The word ‘saints’ in verse 28 is ‘chesidim’ in Hebrew. God's ‘chesed’ is the kind way that he loves people. People that believe that he loves them and thank him for it are ‘chesidim.’ Now we call them ‘saints’ or ‘Christians.’ Though David wrote Psalm 37 for Jews, Jesus wrote it again for Christians in ‘the Sermon on the Mount.’ This is what Jesus said in Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7.
29 Righteous people will inherit the land.
They will always live there.
30 The righteous man says good things,
he talks about justice.
31 The rules of God are in his heart.
His feet do not trip over.
What happens to righteous People
37:32This part of the psalm tells us that God will care for the righteous man or woman. He will make them safe. In the time of David, this meant that God would keep them safe on earth. Now it means more. It means that God will keep them safe when they die. Who is the righteous man or woman? Someone that trusts in God! It is not someone that tries hard to be good. It is someone that believes in God and trusts that God will give to them life that will never have an end.
32 The godless man watches the righteous man.
He wants to kill him.
33 The Lord will not let him remain in his hand.
He will not say that he is wrong
when people are saying that he is wrong.
37:33In verse 33 he, him and his happen 5 times. This is very confusing! It probably means ‘the Lord will not let the righteous man remain in the hand of the godless man. The Lord will not say that the righteous man is wrong when people are saying that he is wrong.’
34 Stay with the Lord. Do things his way.
He will give you help. The land will be yours.
You will see when godless people become cut off.
37:34In verse 34, ‘stay with the Lord’ means ‘go on believing in the Lord.’ In the New Testament, ‘the Way’ is a name for being a Christian. ‘Cut off’ means the same as in verse 9, that is ‘destroyed.’
35 I have seen the godless man with great power.
He was a tree growing in the best place for it.
37:35In verse 35, some translations say that it is a Bay Tree.
36 But he died. He did not remain alive.
I looked for him but I did not find him.
37 Think about the blameless man.
Look at the man that is good.
He will have peace in the end.
38 But God will destroy people that do not obey him.
In the end God will cut off godless people.
39 The Lord will make righteous people safe.
He will give them help in time of trouble.
40 The Lord gives them help and makes them safe.
He makes them safe from the godless.
He makes them safe because they trust in him.