Prayer and psalm 37
by Joseph Jagde
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Central to this psalm is the close relationship that the Lord has with those who have committed their trust in him.
One of the themes of this psalm is the you are going to see some wicked people outright prospering and doing well. There might be a reaction to this, of anger in that why are the wicked enjoying themselves so much, where is the justice in this, and maybe even crime does pay. Some will be lured in by the rewards of crime and the lack of innocence involved is worth dealing with for the payoff.
There are a number of action points in this psalm. Verse 3 is trust, verse 4 is to delight, verse 5 is to commit, verse 7 is to be still or rest, verse 27 is turn away from or depart from evil, verse 34 is to wait for the Lord, verse 37 is to mark or consider the blameless.
Verse 7 is talking about being still, which is an action, instead of running out and trying to participate in the visible gains of the wicked. There is going to be evidence of the herd mentality, and everybody wants there piece of the pie. Schemes will work and one aspect even if you donít feel tempted to also go out there you might be disturbed and mentally distracted by what you see. The verse 7 reads, ď Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, do not fret when men succeed in their ways, and they carry out wicked schemes." In this verse, the Lord showing how he is seeing things from the vantage point of his people and how they are in a situation of having surrounding circumstances where there are inequities, injustices, and things are not balanced clearly towards what is righteous. If there are not right in the path of these things, they are close enough to observe their existence.
Two major interpretations could be made on this verse. One is the call to stillness in and of itself. It is not a means but an end. On the first glance, the idea of getting somewhere by being still isnít the way to go. By being still, it might be associated with being inactive, not going after what you want, and ultimately ending up in the same place, maybe a little rested and calmed down but not with some obvious movement resulting. The stillness contradicts the activity of the wicked, who are running around and benefiting from it. Because they arenít sitting still with the Lord, they have extra time available to them for their activities. Here though, there is a call to stillness in and of itself, whether it results in gain or not. Whether it would ever lead to something ulterior we are called to be still with the Lord. It is almost a warning here rather than a consolation not to fret about the wicked, fretting will lead to trouble especially if it is about the success of the wicked. It will lure someone away from the stillness that they are called to and the focus on paying attention to the Lord can be compromised by not stopping for the stillness. Feeling that the drift away from the Lord and the stillness of his presence is going to be of any advantage is just plain false.
Secondary is that this stillness is honing in on the presence of the Lord as he comes to the individual with what he plans to do. I might be running all over the place, not stopping for instructions. And then it might be waiting then on the Lordís actions, and what they might be. If someone is launching a ship, they might wait on the tides and be still on the shore until the proper conditions arise. So a second interpretation is that this could be stillness before an action, necessary stillness to get the timing of the action and discernment.
This psalm has a lot to do with getting somewhere so the second interpretation has some truth in relation to the overall context of this psalm which is addressing the ways of the individual and how to conduct your own affairs, but leaving out key steps if going to hurt and its going to hurt you if you donít seek to be still in the presence of the Lord. It is going to be your loss.
Verse 4 says," Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture." Contextual to trusting the Lord is actually doing good, whatever that good may be. Some would argue everybody is doing what they think is good, but what is good in the eyes of the Lord is another thing. We might need to ask the Lord what is good here, especially as trust is fading in the Lordís plan. As we seek to improve our trust in the Lord, discuss with Him what doing good would be in a given day, we might have a good idea of this but here trust issues are correlated with doing good so it would be good to consult with the Lord as to what the good is as we try and go forward to build trust.
And verse 4 says," Delight yourself in the lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Of course, the desires of your heart differ to each individual with general commonalities but each person would have a unique combination of the desires of the heart. A ticket to a great basketball game might mean something to me, but it might mean nothing to you.
Delight thyself in the Lord, would also be personal in a way as this verse is addressed to an individual, and if the Lord is going to give you the desires of your heart, He obviously is able to read this desire, and craft this. The giving of the desires of your heart mentioned here is about a response from the Lord, contextual to a relationship where you are desiring and delighting in the Lord. The desires are multiple, the Lord being able to match each individual desire with a matching gift. How one could sincerely delight in the Lord is a matter of conjecture. There might be in this very license for a way of praying that you might otherwise have considered not the way to pray. Probably more praise for the Lord would be involved, more joy in just ability to have the chance to speak with the Lord in prayer, and more sensitivity to the currents that the Lord is leading one towards in prayer, which could include intercessory and if the Lord is asking an individual to delight in Him, he will grant leadings as to what to do in prayer towards that end. Also, this would refer to verse 3 as well, so good deeds, would be part of delighting in the Lord as well. But of course we need help and discernment as to what the good deeds are that the Lord might be leading us to. I can substitute as the lifeguard as a help to someone only if I am a capable swimmer. So capabilities need to be examined with the Lord in discerning what good I can do. Then the desires of my heart might be fairly well hidden from myself, as it just wouldnít reveal itself until Iím more at the scene of what I truly want. As I get closer to what I want, my heart awakens to its presence. So part of what the Lord would be doing is revealing as well the desires of my heart which I could have been partially closed off to as well, I might have let the desires of my heart fly away. The desire of my heart my include lounging on a beach in the Caribbean, but if I have been in far North for a long time, this desire might fade from my view of it.
Verse 5 says in the King James Version of the Bible, ď Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass." Again the flashpoint of this psalm is thy or your way, this psalm is talking about how to handle your ways. Commitment to the Lord here is tantamount. But it is still very personal. You ways are your ways for you. Besides general principles of the good, each individual will have their way. Iím not going to want to sell a slew of mansions if Iím not in the real estate business. Here it is talking about personal projects, that you are committing to the Lord in hopes of it actual coming thru or coming to pass into a fruition of the desires of my heart. Here it is saying the lord will bring it thru or bring it about. For contemplation, we want to focus in prayer more towards what the result is going to be, where we want to the Lord to bring us. Here we want to be able to discuss where we actually want to go. We are supposed to be humble but here if you really want something even if is seems a bit big and out of reach, this is stated vision is something that can be discussed very vividly in prayer. If your drawing back on the request then you might also be drawing back on the commitment. Tell the Lord what you want to commit to, even if it seems unlikely to pass into reality from your current vantage point. You may be unsure of any number of things, but the fullness of your personal vision needs to be brought forth and discussed in the fullest possible light of the truth of what your really want. Commitment would be with specifics on what we want the Lord to bring to pass. So if I am in the business of selling big houses and estates, I am committing the venture to the Lord which is very specific to that. A commitment to the Lord around this specific enterprise is discussed with the Lord and you are presenting a picture of what is going to hopefully happen. This prayer is very much a here and now type prayer. Of course this also could be intercessory, I want peace for Africa, so I also pray for this, committing this in prayer to the Lord that he would bring this to pass.
Verse 6 says, ďHe will make your righteousness shine like the dawn and the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Basically here, this is saying he can make the sun shine in the sky, he can bring your project up and running as well. But there needs to be a righteousness or justice aspect to your project. It has got to be the right thing. This is in an unrighteous or unjust endeavor therefore, or something you are wanting to hide, therefore you wouldnít want it to shine like the noonday sun, but would rather keep it under wraps.
Verses 16 thru 20 are particularly interesting. ď Better the little that the righteous have, than the wealth of the many wicked, for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever, in times of disaster they will not wither, in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
You usually think of a day as to what is in the newspaper today, what is the weather like today and so on. But here, it says, the days of the blameless are known to the Lord. The Lord has the days of these individuals as in some ways the day he is beholding, the day is the day of this given blameless person or that given blameless person. So an understanding needs to be that the Lord is looking in on your day, which is quite amazing. In the meantime, you might be looking out at everything else going on in the world. A better grasp of these verses, is that what the righteous should be looking for is how God is looking in on your day. The wicked might have much more wealth, but the Lord looking in for you on your day is way above any wealth of the wicked, not matter to what extent it accumulates, it canít compare to have the Lord watching your day for you personally.
Verse 23 says, ď If the Lord delights in a manís way, he makes his steps firm." Here, again, if you are seeing the Lordís presence in even steps that you make or everyday personal moves, take it as a sign that the Lord is delighting in you and your on the right track."
Verse 27, in the King James version says, ď Depart from evil, do good and dwell forever more." Here it is not saying outright that someone is doing evil, but they might be in the presence of evil and getting close. This verse is saying it might for example be necessary to ditch a job, depending, ditch certain people, activities, what you are viewing, etc. Depart from evil, and also do good. Evil will eventually get in the way, and since this psalm is talking about the Lord doing things for you personally, it will get in the way of what the Lord wants to do for you personally and take you away from the desires of your heart.
Verse 31 says in the King James version, ď The law of God is in his heart, none of his steps will slide." I can relate to this verse personally, as I remember hiking early this summer in Glacier National Park with sneakers to Iceberg Lake, which was higher up and had snow on the approach, snow which just wasnít present at lower elevations. My feet were sliding on this snow as I didnít have the proper footwear and I lost my balance a couple times on rolling hills on the near the high mountain lake thousands of feet up. Here this verse is saying God will not lead you into situations where you are going to be sliding in your steps. Overall, he will set you on a doable, achievable course, one that you are capable of dealing with without sliding all over the place. As they say, He is not going to give you something you canít handle with His help.
Verse 37 says, ď Consider the blameless, observe the upright, there is a future for the man of peace." Going back to verse 11, it says, ď But the meek will inherit the earth, and enjoy great peace." Here the indication is that God is holding the cards for the future, the irony is, the evil are also plotting for their future excluding God, who controls the future. God is giving as part of his gift, great peace, and peace that also relates to enjoyment. Here the two are correlated, peace and enjoyment. Something to think about, meditate on and consider is how what you enjoy relates to peace and how peace and enjoyment are intertwined and combining these elements as well in your approach to prayer.
This psalm presents as given the presence of evil, but God can bless abundantly a person even in times of evil and even looks in on the individual days of the righteous, like itís a separate
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