David persuades to patience and confidence in God, by the state of the godly and of the wicked.
Verses 1-6 When we look abroad we see the world full of evil-doers, that flourish and live in ease. So it was seen of old, therefore let us not marvel at the matter. We are tempted to fret at this, to think them the only happy people, and so we are prone to do like them: but this we are warned against. Outward prosperity is fading. When we look forward, with an eye of faith, we shall see no reason to envy the wicked. Their weeping and wailing will be everlasting. The life of religion is a believing trust in the Lord, and diligent care to serve him according to his will. It is not trusting God, but tempting him, if we do not make conscience of our duty to him. A man's life consists not in abundance, but, Thou shalt have food convenient for thee. This is more than we deserve, and it is enough for one that is going to heaven. To delight in God is as much a privilege as a duty. He has not promised to gratify the appetites of the body, and the humours of the fancy, but the desires of the renewed, sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and serve God. Commit thy way unto the Lord; roll thy way upon the Lord, so the margin reads it. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, the burden of thy care. We must roll it off ourselves, not afflict and perplex ourselves with thoughts about future events, but refer them to God. By prayer spread thy case and all thy cares before the Lord, and trust in him. We must do our duty, and then leave the event with God. The promise is very sweet: He shall bring that to pass, whatever it is, which thou has committed to him.
Verses 7-20 Let us be satisfied that God will make all to work for good to us. Let us not discompose ourselves at what we see in this world. A fretful, discontented spirit is open to many temptations. For, in all respects, the little which is allotted to the righteous, is more comfortable and more profitable than the ill-gotten and abused riches of ungodly men. It comes from a hand of special love. God provides plentifully and well, not only for his working servants, but for his waiting servants. They have that which is better than wealth, peace of mind, peace with God, and then peace in God; that peace which the world cannot give, and which the world cannot have. God knows the believer's days. Not one day's work shall go unrewarded. Their time on earth is reckoned by days, which will soon be numbered; but heavenly happiness shall be for ever. This will be a real support to believers in evil times. Those that rest on the Rock of ages, have no reason to envy the wicked the support of their broken reeds.
Verses 21-33 The Lord our God requires that we do justly, and render to all their due. It is a great sin for those that are able, to deny the payment of just debts; it is a great misery not to be able to pay them. He that is truly merciful, will be ever merciful. We must leave our sins; learn to do well, and cleave to it. This is true religion. The blessing of God is the spring, sweetness, and security of all earthly enjoyments. And if we are sure of this, we are sure not to want any thing good for us in this world. By his grace and Holy Spirit, he directs the thoughts, affections, and designs of good men. By his providence he overrules events, so as to make their way plain. He does not always show them his way for a distance, but leads them step by step, as children are led. God will keep them from being ruined by their falls, either into sin or into trouble, though such as fall into sin will be sorely hurt. Few, if any, have known the consistent believer, or his children, reduced to abject, friendless want. God forsakes not his saints in affliction; and in heaven only the righteous shall dwell for ever; that will be their everlasting habitation. A good man may fall into the hands of a messenger of Satan, and be sorely buffeted, but God will not leave him in his enemy's hands.
Verses 34-40 Duty is ours, and we must mind it; but events are God's, we must refer the disposal of them to him. What a striking ( psalms 37:35-36 ) But God remarkably blights the projects of the prosperous wicked, especially persecutors. None are perfect in themselves, but believers are so in Christ Jesus. If all the saint's days continue dark and cloudy, his dying day may prove comfortable, and his sun set bright; or, if it should set under a cloud, yet his future state will be everlasting peace. The salvation of the righteous will be the Lord's doing. He will help them to do their duties, to bear their burdens; help them to bear their troubles well, and get good by them, and, in due time, will deliver them out of their troubles. Let sinners then depart from evil, and do good; repent of and forsake sin, and trust in the mercy of God through Jesus Christ. Let them take his yoke upon them, and learn of him, that they may dwell for evermore in heaven. Let us mark the closing scenes of different characters, and always depend on God's mercy.
Psalms 37:1-40 . A composed and uniform trust in God and a constant course of integrity are urged in view of the blessedness of the truly pious, contrasted in various aspects with the final ruin of the wicked. Thus the wisdom and justice of God's providence are vindicated, and its seeming inequalities, which excite the cavils of the wicked and the distrust of the pious, are explained. David's personal history abundantly illustrates the Psalm.
1, 2. The general sentiment of the whole Psalm is expressed. The righteous need not be vexed by the prosperity of the wicked; for it is transient, and their destiny undesirable.
3. Trust--sure of safety.
shalt thou dwell--or, "dwell thou"; repose quietly.
verily . . . fed--or, "feed on truth," God's promise ( Psalms 36:5 ; compare Hosea 12:1 ).
4. desires--( Psalms 20:5 , 21:2 ), what is lawful and right, really good ( Psalms 84:11 ).
5. Commit thy way--( Proverbs 16:3 ). Works--what you have to do and cannot set forth as a burden.
trust . . . in him--literally, "on Him." He will do what you cannot (compare Psalms 22:8 , 31:6 ). He will not suffer your character to remain under suspicion.
7, 8. Rest in--literally, "Be silent to the Lord."
and wait--Be submissive--avoid petulance and murmurings, anger and rash doing.
9. Two reasons: The prosperity of the wicked is short; and the pious, by humble trust, will secure all covenant blessing, denoted here by "inherit the earth" (compare Psalms 25:13 ).
10, 11. shall not be--literally, "is not"--is not to be found.
11. peace--includes prosperity.
12. gnasheth . . . teeth--in beastly rage.
13. (Compare Psalms 2:4 ).
his day--of punishment, long delayed, shall yet come ( Hebrews 10:37 ).
14, 15. sword, and . . . bow--for any instruments of violence.
slay--literally, "slaughter" ( 1 Samuel 25:11 ).
poor and needy--God's people ( Psalms 10:17 , 12:5 ). The punishment of the wicked as drawn on themselves--often mentioned (compare Psalms 7:15 Psalms 7:16 , 35:8 ).
16. riches--literally, "noise and tumult," as incidental to much wealth (compare Psalms 39:6 ). Thus the contrast with the "little" of one man is more vivid.
17. Even the members of the body needed to hold weapons are destroyed.
18, 19. God, who knows His people's changes, provides against evil and supplies all their need.
20. While the wicked, however mighty, are destroyed, and that utterly, as smoke which vanishes and leaves no trace.
21, 22. payeth not--not able; having grown poor (compare Deuteronomy 15:7 ). Ability of the one and inability of the other do not exclude moral dispositions. God's blessing or cursing makes the difference.
22. cut off--opposed to "inherit the earth" (compare Leviticus 7:20 Leviticus 7:21 ).
23, 24. steps--way, or, "course of life"; as ordered by God, failures will not be permanent.
26. his seed is blessed--literally, "for a blessing" ( Genesis 12:2 , Psalms 21:6 ). This position is still true as the rule of God's economy ( 1 Timothy 4:8 , 6:6 ).
27-29. The exhortation is sustained by the assurance of God's essential rectitude in that providential government which provides perpetual blessings for the good, and perpetual misery for the wicked.
30, 31. The righteous described as to the elements of character, thought, word, and action.
31. steps--or, "goings"--for conduct which is unwavering ( Psalms 18:36 ).
32, 33. The devices of the wicked against the good fail because God acquits them.
34. On the contrary, the good are not only blessed, but made to see the ruin of their foes.
35, 36. of which a picture is given, under the figure of a flourishing tree (compare Margin), which soon withers.
36. he was not--(Compare Psalms 37:10 ).
37. By "the end" is meant reward ( Proverbs 23:18 , 24:14 ), or expectation of success, as in Psalms 37:38 , which describes the end of the wicked in contrast, and that is cut off (compare Psalms 73:17 ).
38. together--at once; entirely ( Psalms 4:8 ).
39, 40. strength--( Psalms 27:1 , 28:8 ).
trouble--straits ( Psalms 9:9 , 10:1 ). In trust and quietness is the salvation of the pious from all foes and all their devices.