Psalm 37: The Folly of Fret

Fretting is what we seem to do best.  This four headed monster consisting of worry, resentment, jealousy, and self-pity.  This monster has found a fresh hunting ground in today internet driven world.

Christians should not fret because it is ridiculous to envy evil.  Why you ask?  Those who find their main happiness in this world are living on borrowed time (verse 2).  Furthermore, a fretting Christian is one who is not trusting, delighting, or committing (verse 3-5).  Finally, a fretting Christian will miss those riches and rewards promised in verses 3-6.

This chapter reminds us that Christianity is paradoxical. Believers sometimes seem weak, but they are ultimately strong. We are “persecuted, but not abandoned” (2 Corinthians 4:9; verses 12–15). Those who live for their own power may have temporary success, but sin sets up strains in the fabric of life that will lead to breakdown. “Their swords” in various ways “will pierce their own hearts” (verse 15). Also, “having nothing,” we “yet possess everything” (2 Corinthians 6:10; verses 16–20.) Righteousness is no guarantee of prosperity. It is possible to be faithful and hardworking and end with “little” (verse 16). Yet riches can erode quickly and can’t help you in the next life, so only God himself—and his unfailing love for you—are investments that never lose their value.

The faithful don’t see their money as their own but give and lend freely in order to bring about blessing (verse 26), trusting God to provide for them (verse 25). While David had never seen believers’ children impoverished, Habakkuk 3:17–19 famously tells us that even when we fall into poverty God is with us and is our true wealth. We may be “struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9). We may “stumble”—may sin or fail or suffer calamity—but God won’t let us go into free fall (verse 24). He will use these troubles, if we trust him, to turn us into something great and beautiful (2 Corinthians 4:17).

We are to “do good” (verse 27), and verse 28 shows that this means living a life of justice. The Hebrew word for “just” is mishpat. This means to treat people equitably, not having one standard for people of your own race and another for others (Leviticus 24:22). It also means caring for the rights and needs of the poor, immigrants, widows, and orphans (Zechariah 7:10–11). Many Christians think of social justice as an optional interest, but it is an essential characteristic of those the Lord loves and delights in. Jesus told his followers to have the poor and disabled in their homes regularly (Luke 14:12–13). Are we listening to these summonses to live justly?

Living for yourself inevitably comes to nothing (verses 35–36), but for us “a future awaits” (verse 37). This doesn’t necessarily mean a prosperous life. It does mean a future of increasing joy and love in this world and infinite amounts of both in the next. We will be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:35–58). We will not go to nothing. We will not be just a floating consciousness. We will not become part of an impersonal cosmic force. Our future is a world of love (1 Corinthians 13:12–13). We will walk, eat, converse, embrace, sing, and dance—all in degrees of joy, satisfaction, and power that we cannot now imagine. We will eat and drink with the Son of Man “forever” (Psalm 23:6)