Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
<<A Psalm of David.>> Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
Ps 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.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
3. Trust—sure of safety.
shalt thou dwell—or, "dwell thou"; repose quietly.
verily … fed—or, "feed on truth," God's promise (Ps 36:5; compare Ho 12:1).
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
4. desires—(Ps 20:5; 21:2), what is lawful and right, really good (Ps 84:11).
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
5. Commit thy way—(Pr 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 Ps 22:8; 31:6). He will not suffer your character to remain under suspicion.
And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
7, 8. Rest in—literally, "Be silent to the Lord."
and wait—Be submissive—avoid petulance and murmurings, anger and rash doing.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
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 Ps 25:13).
For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
10, 11. shall not be—literally, "is not"—is not to be found.
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
11. peace—includes prosperity.
The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
12. gnasheth … teeth—in beastly rage.
The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
13. (Compare Ps 2:4).
his day—of punishment, long delayed, shall yet come (Heb 10:37).
The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
14, 15. sword, and … bow—for any instruments of violence.
slay—literally, "slaughter" (1Sa 25:11).
poor and needy—God's people (Ps 10:17; 12:5). The punishment of the wicked as drawn on themselves—often mentioned (compare Ps 7:15, 16; 35:8).
Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
16. riches—literally, "noise and tumult," as incidental to much wealth (compare Ps 39:6). Thus the contrast with the "little" of one man is more vivid.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.
17. Even the members of the body needed to hold weapons are destroyed.
The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
18, 19. God, who knows His people's changes, provides against evil and supplies all their need.
They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
20. While the wicked, however mighty, are destroyed, and that utterly, as smoke which vanishes and leaves no trace.
The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
21, 22. payeth not—not able; having grown poor (compare De 15:7). Ability of the one and inability of the other do not exclude moral dispositions. God's blessing or cursing makes the difference.
For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
22. cut off—opposed to "inherit the earth" (compare Le 7:20, 21).
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
23, 24. steps—way, or, "course of life"; as ordered by God, failures will not be permanent.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
26. his seed is blessed—literally, "for a blessing" (Ge 12:2; Ps 21:6). This position is still true as the rule of God's economy (1Ti 4:8; 6:6).
Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
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.
For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
30, 31. The righteous described as to the elements of character, thought, word, and action.
The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
31. steps—or, "goings"—for conduct which is unwavering (Ps 18:36).
The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
32, 33. The devices of the wicked against the good fail because God acquits them.
The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
34. On the contrary, the good are not only blessed, but made to see the ruin of their foes.
I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
35, 36. of which a picture is given, under the figure of a flourishing tree (compare Margin), which soon withers.
Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
36. he was not—(Compare Ps 37:10).
Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
37. By "the end" is meant reward (Pr 23:18; 24:14), or expectation of success, as in Ps 37:38, which describes the end of the wicked in contrast, and that is cut off (compare Ps 73:17).
But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.
38. together—at once; entirely (Ps 4:8).
But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
39, 40. strength—(Ps 27:1; 28:8).
trouble—straits (Ps 9:9; 10:1). In trust and quietness is the salvation of the pious from all foes and all their devices.
And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.