you will watch

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Psalm 37:34

Psalm 37:34 Wait for Yahveh and keep to his road, and he will exalt you to inherit the land. You will watch when the wicked are destroyed.

you will watch

The promise in today’s text is that God is the one who will fight our battles. All we need to do is stay on the path he prescribes, and wait faithfully for him to act. God promises to act by destroying the wicked, who oppose both the righteous and God himself. The payoff to a life of faithfulness is that we will inherit the land (reward) and have an opportunity to watch when all the harm and corruption is cleansed from God’s universe (destruction).

Note how the New Testament describes this same payoff:

“And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18 NASB).

Lord, we don’t want to miss it when you engage all that is evil in this universe, and defeat all your enemies.

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a gospel twist

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Psalm 37:30-31

Psalm 37:30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is just.

Psalm 37:31 The instruction of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter.

Psalm 37:32 The wicked one lies in wait for the righteous and intends to kill him;

Psalm 37:33 Yahveh will not leave him in the power of the wicked one or allow him to be condemned when he is judged.

a gospel twist

This promise of God’s protection is also prophetic of the life and ministry of Christ – except for a gospel twist. The wicked intended to kill Jesus, and it was allowed. Jesus was condemned and executed in spite of the fact that he had God’s instruction in his heart and only spoke wisdom and justice. His betrayal and execution were not a mistake. God planned for the death of Christ to atone for those of us who have put their trust in him.

It is essential that this song introduce a hint of substitutionary atonement at this point. Otherwise, yesterday’s section might give worshipers the notion that righteousness is obtained by merely abandoning sin. No, even as repentant believers, we cannot have access to the throne without a crucified Savior.

Lord, thank you for Jesus, who took condemnation upon himself, so that those who trust you can have permanent protection.

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a gospel twist

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Psalm 37:30-31

Psalm 37:30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is just.

Psalm 37:31 The instruction of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter.

Psalm 37:32 The wicked one lies in wait for the righteous and intends to kill him;

Psalm 37:33 Yahveh will not leave him in the power of the wicked one or allow him to be condemned when he is judged.

a gospel twist

This promise of God’s protection is also prophetic of the life and ministry of Christ – except for a gospel twist. The wicked intended to kill Jesus, and it was allowed. Jesus was condemned and executed in spite of the fact that he had God’s instruction in his heart and only spoke wisdom and justice. His betrayal and execution were not a mistake. God planned for the death of Christ to atone for those of us who have put their trust in him.

It is essential that this song introduce a hint of substitutionary atonement at this point. Otherwise, yesterday’s section might give worshipers the notion that righteousness is obtained by merely abandoning sin. No, even as repentant believers, we cannot have access to the throne without a crucified Savior.

Lord, thank you for Jesus, who took condemnation upon himself, so that those who trust you can have permanent protection.

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a safe place for good

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Psalm 37:27-29

Psalm 37:27 Turn away from evil, do what is good, and settle permanently

Psalm 37:28 because Yahveh loves justice and will not abandon his faithful ones. They are kept safe permanently, but the children of the wicked will be destroyed.

Psalm 37:29 The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it continually.

a safe place for good

The God of the Bible saves by grace, but he does not cover sinful lifestyles by his grace. Those who wish to be “in” with him have to get out of business with evil. It is the righteous who will inherit the land, and we discover in the Scriptures that inheriting the land is a metaphor for eternal life. The unfaithful may be kept safe temporarily, but God will not abandon his faithful ones. They are kept safe permanently. Church membership is a safe place for good, but cannot protect those whose hearts are bent on evil. That is why the entrance fee to the kingdom is repentance and faith.

Lord, hide us in your safe place, and create in us hearts who seek your righteousness.

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on my worst day

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Psalm 37:25-26

Psalm 37:25 I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread.

Psalm 37:26 He is always generous, always lending, and his children are a blessing.

on my worst day

This psalm had already admitted the fact that God’s people sometimes fall into hard times (24). If I were to take these two verses out of that context, it might seem a stretch to apply these words to my own life, because I have experienced some of those falls, and they are not pleasant.

It’s hard to live up to the ideals communicated here. It’s hard to be generous when you’ve been unemployed for a long time. It’s hard to face the collection plate every Sunday morning and have to pass it by again this week because you did not make any income to tithe. It makes one want to skip the whole thing and hide somewhere until things get better.

Yet, I have to admit that on my worst day I have always been better off than someone trying to survive life without God. I have known the challenges of doing without, but I have never felt abandoned by him. My children have had hard times too, but they continue to be blessed and a blessing.

Lord, thank you that this is a song I can sing even on my worst day, because you never abandon me, and you never stop blessing me and mine.

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though he falls

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Psalm 37:21-24

Psalm 37:21 The wicked person borrows and does not repay, but the righteous one is gracious and giving.

Psalm 37:22 Those who are blessed by Yahveh will inherit the land, but those cursed by him will be destroyed.

Psalm 37:23 A person’s steps are established by Yahveh, and he enjoys his journey.

Psalm 37:24 Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because Yahveh supports him with his hand.

though he falls

I saw him fall, and it was spectacular. I was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and was joined by a section hiker who had a few days of vacation. He was up ahead of me about fifty yards. We were hiking a rough trail in the north-east, with lots of rocky spots. Suddenly, I saw the man twist around in mid-air, and then land on something. He had realized he was falling, and turned around so that he would not land on his face. After I caught up with him, I saw how dangerous that spot had been. If the man had not turned around so that his pack landed first, he could have been severely hurt. As it is, he brushed himself off, checked his pack, and went on.

When I read this passage this morning, I thought of that hiker. He knew he was liable to fall, and had planned what he would do when it happened.

God’s word for us is to enjoy our journey, even though we might fall. God’s supporting hands are there.

Lord, we don’t ask for an uneventful journey. We know that even the falls can be opportunities for us to experience your loving care.

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destined to disappear

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Psalm 37:20

Psalm 37:20 But the wicked will perish; Yahveh’s enemies, like the glory of the pastures, will disappear– they will disappear like smoke.

destined to disappear

A pasture looks beautiful and limitless, but it is eventually consumed by hungry beasts. Its glory is a sight to behold. But it is not permanent. The psalmist used this simile to remind his readers that God’s enemies are not immortal. They will not be kept in some corner of God’s universe forever. Their destiny is to disappear. But the saved will inherit the land. Their destiny is to be with the Lord forever.

Lord, thank you for the promise of permanent life.

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Faith that outlasts bad times

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Psalm 37:18-19

Psalm 37:18 Yahveh watches over the blameless all their days, and their inheritance will last permanently.

Psalm 37:19 They will not be disgraced in times of adversity; they will be satisfied in days of hunger.

Faith that outlasts bad times

The psalmist didn’t say that the blameless would never lose something that mattered to them. He said that they would not lose their inheritance permanently.

The psalmist didn’t say that the blameless would never see adversity. Adversity is a given in this evil age, but disgrace is not. Hunger may happen, but satisfaction in the goodness of the Lord will never be lacking.

Lord, thank you for a faith that outlasts bad times.

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the little is better

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Psalm 37:16-17

Psalm 37:16 The little that the righteous person has is better than the abundance of many wicked people

Psalm 37:17 because the arms of the wicked will be broken, but Yahveh supports the righteous.

the little is better

Having a bunch of stuff seems to be the life’s goal of some. But what good is an armload of precious things, if your arms are going to be broken so you can no longer hold them? What good is an abundance that is doomed to be lost – destroyed along with your own soul?

Our journey is a difficult one, so it is best that we travel light, and enjoy the little that our Master gives us for that journey. My experience as a hiker has taught me that more is too much. The little is better than the abundance, and is appreciated all the more because of its scarcity.

Lord, thank you for providing just what we need.

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locked and loaded

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Psalm 37:14-15

Psalm 37:14 The wicked have drawn the sword and strung the bow to bring down the poor and needy and to slaughter those whose journey is upright.

Psalm 37:15 Their swords will enter their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.

locked and loaded

If the psalmist were writing today, he would have probably used the phrase “locked and loaded” to describe an enemy prepared to fire on the helpless and holy. About 1000 years ago, the weapons of destruction were the sword and bow.

Other than that, the sentiment expressed in this section is very up-to-date. Many of God’s people feel they are targets of abuse, misrepresentation, oppression, and violence. We feel this way not in spite of our faith, but because of it.

God’s word of encouragement for us is that he knows what is happening, and those weapons locked and loaded will not achieve their purpose. Instead, the Lord will redirect those weapons to harm the ones who wield them.

Lord, thank you for being sovereign over our situation.

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