Fret Not
Psalm 37:1-12
Fret not yourself because of evildoers, neither be you envious against the workers of iniquity.…

There are many who suppose that it is well-nigh impossible to pass the time of our sojourning here without some degree of anxiety and depression of spirit. I grant you these feelings will come to us, but we are not obliged to welcome them. Luther quaintly said that, whereas we cannot prevent the birds from hovering over and flying round about our heads, we can prevent them from building their nests in our hair. The Lord will net hold us accountable for the suggestions that the devil makes, or our own evil hearts produce, but He does hold us responsible for yielding to those suggestions, and nourishing them.

I. A DESCRIPTION OF THE COMPLAINT. Worrying, murmuring, or fretting, is certainly a malady. It must not be regarded as a mere circumstance that afflicts us from without. It is a deep-seated complaint that reigns within. One of the old Puritans says, of one who was always complaining, that he was "sick of the frets." He recognized that it was an inward ailment, affecting both soul and body. The root of the mischief was in the rebellious heart.

1. What is the nature of this complaint? It is of the nature of a fever. "Fret not thyself," or as it might be read, "Do not grow hot, inflame net thyself, because of evil-doers." Leave. to the sea to fret, and fume, and rage, and roar. Leave to the wicked, of whom the troubled sea is so apt an emblem, to toss to and fro, and cast up mire and dirt. Leave to the caged bird, that has no wisdom, to beat itself against the bars and make its incarceration still more unendurable; but for you who are already God's, who have such a Father and Friend, and such a home, to which you are each moment coming nearer, for you to fret is clean contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; and to the grace which is in Christ Jesus.

2. What are the causes of this complaint?

(1) The prosperity of the wicked. I do not know of anything more likely to contribute to envy — which is nearly always an accompaniment of fretting — than a view of the prosperity of the wicked, that is if that view is a one-sided and short-sided one, as it generally is. The wicked spreads himself like a green bay tree, everything seems to go well with him. But he is a stranger to the one thing needful. He is altogether unacquainted with the joys we know, and what shall his end be? Have you ever found it in your heart to envy the apparent riches of the stage king, who struts his little hour behind the footlights with crown, and robes, and sceptre, and I know not what?

(2) The care that seems inseparable from daily life. So long as we dwell in the land there must be the question of being fed and clothed. I had almost said that religion is a farce and a fraud unless it stoops with me to such matters as these. It does so.

(3) There is another matter that mightily troubles some people, viz. the safeguarding of their reputation. Well, but let not this give rise to fretting and to distrust of God (vers. 5, 6). What reputation we have is due to God's grace. If He has made it, He will keep it. Your reputation is not of half so much account as are God's cause, etc.

3. What are the symptoms of this disease.

(1) It is generally accompanied by envy — "neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity." Be on the look-out against that green-eyed monster jealousy, for it works havoc in the heart, and havoc everywhere.

(2) It is accompanied also by loss of appetite that is, for the things of God. If we give way to repining, we shall not care for God's Word, prayer will become almost impossible, the Gospel itself will lose its zest.

(3) Accompanying this fever there is, of course, a very high temperature. It is very easy, when you are in this state of mind, to get angry, and very difficult to cease from wrath.

(4) There is a consuming thirst with this fretting fever, a longing for something one has not got, a parching of the tongue and a drying of the lip, almost unbearable.

(5) The vision is impaired; we do not see things clearly.

(6) There is loss of memory, for we forget the mercies which have gone before, a recollection of which would help us to bear the troubles of the present.


1. The first item is trust in the Lord. Faith cures fretting. I believe in the "faith cure" — not as some administer it, but as God administers it. It is the only cure for worrying. If thou trustest all shall be well.

2. Do good. This is the second ingredient in the prescription. Do not give up, do not yield to fear. Do good; get to some practical work for God; continue in the path of daily duty, take spiritual exercise.

8. Diet is a very important matter in fever cases. It reads in the original, "Thou shelf be fed with truth." Oh, the patient begins to get better at once, if he is fed on faithfulness. If you eat God's truth and live on His Word, and drink in His promises, recovery is sure.

4. "Delight thyself also in the Lord." Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. "God writes straight on crooked lines;" delight in Him if you cannot delight in anybody else; delight in Him if you find no joy in yourself.

5. "Commit thy way unto the Lord." Not merely petition the King and then go on worrying, but roll the burden upon the Lord. Then the matter becomes His rather than yours; He accepts the responsibility which is too heavy for you. Too often we shoulder the load again.

6. "Rest in the Lord." Any doctor will prescribe rest in a case of fever; without it the patient is not likely to pull through. You must have rest; be still and see the salvation of the Lord, sit silent before God. Rubbing the eye is not likely to bring the mote out. Even if it does it will only inflame the optic more, and fretting is something like rubbing the eyes — it only increases the inflammation. Do not strive and struggle.

7. "Wait patiently for Him." The buds of His purposes must not be torn rudely open. They will unfold of themselves if you will let them. If you try to expedite matters you will spoil the whole business. God's time is the best time.

8. "Cease from anger and forsake wrath." Ah, I have heard of some people down with the fever who have been foolish enough to do things and to take things which are only calculated to add fuel to the fire. You cannot give up fretting until you begin to forgive.

(T. Spurgeon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {A Psalm of David.} Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

WEB: Don't fret because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness.

Doubts Raised by the Divine Providence, and How to Meet Them
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