search
top

Did Jesus Give Away the Land of Israel to Christians (Matthew 5:5) Part 3

Introduction

I could not contain my excitement when I entered Bible College in Dallas, Texas in 1971. I looked forward to learning New Testament Greek, studying the Jewish Scriptures and the New Testament, and researching multiple schools of theology. Attending Bible College was a dream come true. And it was, for the most part.

I devoured every class offered in Bible and theology. I signed up for Leviticus and Hebrews to better understand the connection between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Covenant.

Hermeneutics or Biblical Interpretation was one of many required courses. My professor was a graduate of the Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). Yet, he took pride he had rejected the dispensational theology he learned at DTS. In other words, he became a replacement theologian. He did not affirm God has a plan for the nation of Israel other than the need for individual Jewish people to accept Yeshua.

As the professor unraveled his theology in class one afternoon, he proudly announced he is a spiritual Jew. In fact, in an arrogant tone, he declared he was a “true Jew.” I almost fell out of my chair. I did not believe my ears.

According to the teacher, God wiped His hands of the nation of Israel. Presently, the Lord formed a “new nation of Israel” made up of Gentiles removed from Jewish tradition and culture.

According to my professor, God has no interest in the physical land of Israel or in preserving the Jewish nation as He promised to Abraham. All the references to the land and the Jewish nation in Scripture are realized in the Church. I was nauseous. I wanted to bolt from the classroom.

I ended up in my car after class, trembling and shaking. Questions bombarded my brain. Was God lying to Abraham about the Jewish nation to issue from his loins? Can God be trusted not to give mixed messages in His promises? Do my Gentile brothers in the Lord truly know what is contained in the Jewish Scriptures? What does replacement theology do with the many prophecies that guarantee the nation of Israel possession of the land forever? Was I in the wrong faith? How could I look at these Texas Christians and think of them as Jewish?

Why do I share this story? Truly, my encounter with this professor who espoused Replacement theology set me on a lifetime journey of disproving this teaching that is harmful to a proper understanding of God’s commitment to Israel. Hence, I have undertaken this series of articles on the use of Matthew 5:5 or the third beatitude by replacement theology advocates to remove Israel from the proper focus of God’s eternal plan for His cherished people.

Since Yeshua quoted Psalm 37:11 in Matthew 5:5, the Bible student must grasp the context of this Psalm to comprehend how Jesus was using this passage. In the last article, we looked at five themes of Psalm 37. Now we will dig into the passage itself as it leads up to verse 11,  “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (ESV).

Was Jesus removing the land of Israel promised to the Jewish people and handing it off to the “meek”? Of course, the meek, according to RT, refers to Christians. However, since followers of Jesus are a spiritual people whose citizenship is in heaven, the “land,” according to RT, now refers to heaven, not the geographical strip of land in the Middle East adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea.

After studying ReplacementTheology since 1971, I have concluded this is not a study of an impractical issue but a defense of the truthfulness of God’s character. Can His word be trusted? My concern in every article I have written and every sermon I taught on this subject is the veracity of God’s character and His word in light of the shadow cast by RT on the Church. This same burden drives my passion for writing this series of articles.

The call to trust and not worry (Psalm 37:1-8)

Psalm 37 is a poem whose intention is to grant confidence to the faithful followers of the God of Israel. The Psalm opens in verse 1, encouraging its audience not to worry because of the presence of evil men. Rather, those faithful to the God of Israel are to place their trust in Him in the face of what appears to be unfairness in the way He deals with the unrighteous.

The aim of Psalm 37 is put succinctly by Willem S. Prinsloo in the Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, “The most important function of the psalm is to convince the righteous to trust in God and to obey him in spite of the behavior of the wicked” (Willem S. Prinsloo, The Psalms, ed. James D.G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson, Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003, 388).

Sprinkled throughout this poem of confidence, the writer mentions the importance of dwelling in the land and inheriting the land. In David’s world, the land was the specific terrain known as Israel in ancient and modern times. Even when those indifferent to God are raking in material rewards, the faithful trust God for their abundance. Next, David advises his audience to exercise that confidence by dwelling in the land God has promised.

Trust does not mean an unfounded, breezy optimism that everything will turn out right. Instead, it means a deep, abiding reliance on the God who has promised to punish the ungodly and to reward the righteous.

William MacDonald, eds. Believer’s Bible Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2016), 548.

When one relies on the Lord, reliance is made tangible by entering into the promised blessings. There is no need for land grabbing or deceit to enter into the land blessings or other divine benefits. The one who places their confidence in God obtains His amenities by simple faith.

To dwell in the land or to inherit the land is to enjoy the real estate perk God promised to the patriarch Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). Those who strive to attain God’s blessing will lose it. Those who obtain God’s benefits but ignore Him will be cut off from the enjoyment of the promises He made. The proud ones who ignore the Law of God and employ deceit, bribery, and oppression to stay ahead of the pack will end up losing everything. Consequently, the ones who humbly trust in the Lord will inherit the land.

When Jesus spoke of the meek inheriting the earth, He described those who trust in God’s goodness to obtain possessions and achieve personal goals. The faithful ones do not worry. They trust in the divine promises.

To elaborate on those who rely on the Lord, Jesus delves deep into their character as explained in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). The ones who possess the characteristics seen in the beatitudes are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-14). Yeshua’s focus was on the inner qualities of those who dwell in His kingdom rather than on the ownership of Israel. Yet, the blessing of dwelling in the future messianic kingdom will include possession of the land of Israel. When RT advocates scrutinize this beatitude as Jesus’ commentary on Israel’s land ownership, I question whether they truly grasp the significance of the Sermon on the Mount or Psalm 37.

So as not to get lost in the details of the psalm, we have to ask how is it that the righteous are not to worry? This is answered in Vv. 1-8.

We are admonished to not take justice into our own hands (Psalm 37:1)

Before we delve into the Psalm, we must ask what does it mean “to worry.” The majority of English Bible translations render the Hebrew verb תִּתְחַ֥ר (titchar) with the term “fret” or to be “vexed.” Yet the word has the idea “to burn” or “to be angry.” In support of this gloss, the Concise Dictionary of Classical Hebrew translates Psalm 37:1 “to show oneself angry.” Since תִּתְחַ֥ר is a Hithpael stem, the verb carries the sense of “causing oneself to be vexed or angry.” It is an emotional state induced by ourselves in response to someone or something that has “gotten under their skin.”

Perhaps someone stands in the way of our goals of gaining materialistic treasures. We feel stymied our basic needs are not being fulfilled according to our expectations. We feel emboldened to hunt for revenge. Someone must pay for the lack of fulfillment we experience. As a result, we are ready to dole out justice. No wonder David launches this Psalm by addressing our tendency to get hot under the collar when we believe life and even God has treated us poorly.

Photograph Janet Burgess from free images.com

When we believe we are being treated unjustly, there are two attitudes we take according to verse 1.

  • Anger. It is extremely difficult when we see the unrighteous prosper. We conclude they will never see their need for God. How could they? Their lives seem to be almost perfect without God! Hence, we lean towards anger regarding someone’s good fortune. However, any form of anger is a cover up for our inner angst that we are not being treated correctly by God. Why should someone else prosper while ignoring God while we face tough times despite our obedience to Him?
  • Envy. When we sense unfairness, we become envious (קנה) that others are getting away with unrighteous behavior. The line between anger and envy are often blurred in this situation. One reason the faithful are told not to work up a sense of envy is because of how this emotion affects one’s relationship with the Lord. With the unrighteous, this earth is the only sense of heaven they will ever know lest they repent. Once they face the judgment of God, their marvelous careers will wither. Thus, to those called to place our confidence in the Lord, our envy of the unfaithful is trite and selfish. Yet there is good news for the angry and those seething with envy. The Psalmist assures his hearers in verse 6 that their concerns about unequity will be addressed by the Lord. God will “bring forth your righteousness as the light; and your justice as the noonday” (ESV).

We are persuaded any good enjoyed by evildoers is temporary (Psalm 37:2).

Verse 2 refers to the evildoers and wrongdoers in verse 1. David directs those he charged in the previous verse not to become angry or envious over the prosperity of the wicked. Why? Because the happiness they possess in this life is short-lived. After all, the evildoers and wrongdoers will “fade like the grass and wither like the green herb” (Psalm 37:2 ESV).

The short-lived lives of the unfaithful are also described in the rest of Psalm 37. In verse 9, David states evildoers will be “cut off.” In other words, they may die a premature death or be removed from covenant blessings (cf. vs. 22, 28, 34, 38). In verse 10, the psalmist denounces the wicked. They “will be no more” (see verse 36). Verse 13 declares the judgment arriving upon those who plot against the righteous. The wicked “sees that his day is coming” (Psalm 37:13 ESV). Once again, the King of Israel guides his audience that despite the apparent prosperity of the faithless, the good fortune of the comfortable will run out! They will stand before the Almighty God and account for their indifference to Him. In verse 20, the enemies of the Lord are depicted as those who vanish like smoke.

Photo by Juanita Swart on Unsplash

God’s people, in contrast to those apathetic to Him, will be preserved forever. Consequently, it makes little sense to envy the earthly blessings of the unfaithful. The Lord will shorten their life span. Adversely, the righteous will be delivered by the God of Israel from injustices and times of trouble caused by the unrighteous. We cannot escape the obvious conclusion: we have little reason to allow anger to stir up in us due to the shortened lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Is it really worth going through life angry and filled with envy over economic matters that will fade away? Look at Psalm 90:5. After telling his readers man’s life is temporary, Moses contemplates the nature of man compared to God. To the Creator, “a thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past . . . (Psalm 90:4). Regarding humanity, Psalm 90:5 reminds us, “You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,  like grass that is renewed every morning.”

We are to trust in the Lord rather than remain angry (Psalm 37:3)

Verse 2 deciphers a long-standing mystery. Those who trust in wealth rather than the Lord appear to have the leading edge over others who are sincere in their confidence in God. King David resolves this enigma. He notes that those who lean on the Lord will enjoy their rewards not only in this life but for all eternity.

David strongly implies, “Why ignore God for a brief 80 years of lavishing oneself in all that money can buy and then face the prospects of spending the rest of existence separated from the love of the Lord?” Of course, a believer can have both wealth and a strong walk with God. However, Psalm 73 only speaks of the self-sufficient individual who brags about all revenue they accumulated without giving thought to the Creator.

In contrast, the king counsels his hearers in verse 3 that those who are faithful to God are not to envy others or stare daggers at them but to “trust in the Lord and do good.”

In the seventh verse, we see a similar pattern as in verse 1, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (ESV). Rather than anger, we are to wait or be still before the Lord. In verse 8, David repeats the admonition to refrain from anger because of the abundance of the wicked. He urges that anger towards those who boast in their riches tempts us to diminish our integrity as we aim to hit the jackpot at any cost. To not place our confidence in the Lord for our well-being can plant us on a path to wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, let’s rewind to verse 3. After being told to “trust in the LORD, and do good,” the believer is admonished to “dwell in the land.”

This same exhortation “to dwell in the land” is found in verses 9, 11, 18, 22, 29, 34. All six times this phrase is used in Psalm 37, the reference to “land” refers to the region in the Middle East known as Israel. David ties a life of trusting in the Lord for faithful Israelites in his day with the blessing of enjoying the land of Israel. The one who puts his life in God’s hands experiences a life of security and confidence. The opposite action is to grab for more like those who have no trust in God and look to their own smarts to acquire possessions.

Sea of Galilee Image by isa_mau from Pixabay 

During this time enjoying the land, the inhabitants are to remain faithful, according to the second half of verse 3. The Hebrew carries the idea of feeding on faithfulness. While they enjoy the space God has given them, the Israelite is to remain true to the Lord in how they handle the challenges found in this blessed piece of real estate. They are to continue in their commitment to Torah: pursue justice, walk in humility, and seek the good of others. A person who receives the plethora of the Lord’s bounty is still accountable to trust the Lord throughout his life.

Before we get wrapped up in this incredible psalm, we must step back and list the implications of the relationship between “dwelling in the land” and “trusting in the Lord.”

Primarily, we will look at passages that use this same phrase outside of Psalm 37. There are several distinctions to keep in mind when the phrase “dwell in the land” (שְׁכָן־אֶ֝֗רֶץ) is used in Scripture.

  • the distinctive of God’s people dwelling in a land without possessing the land. On different occasions the children of Israel are told to dwell in the land of Goshen in Egypt. During the time of Joseph, his brothers dwelt in Goshen as shepherds to escape the famine in the land of Canaan. Never once are the twelve sons of Jacob told to possess the land nor will God give them real estate in Egypt when using the espression, “dwell in the land” (Genesis 26:2; 45:10; 6:34; 47:4). At one juncture the people of Shechem are told to dwell in the land alongside the twelve sons of Jacob (Genesis 34:21). Neither in this case is ownership of the land implied. Later in Israel’s history the words, “dwell in the land” referred to disobedient Israelites who fled to Egypt to escape the Babylonian invasion (Jeremiah 24:8; 44:26). For example, “But thus says the LORD: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedekiah the king of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt (Jeremiah 24:8 ESV). In Jeremiah 40:9 a remnant of Jewish people were deported to Babylon to “dwell in the land” and serve the King of Babylon.
  • the distinctive of other peoples dwelling in the land of Israel prior to the conquest by Israel. The phrase under consideration is used of the Amalekites who resided in the Negeb (Numbers 13:28-29). Check this out: “The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb” (Numbers 13:29 ESV). Unless otherwise stated, to “dwell in the land” does not imply ownership or possession.
  • the distinctive of dwelling in the land the Lord swore to give to the patriarchs. With this usage, the term clearly refers to God’s promise to Israel that the nation of Israel would “dwell in the land”. In Deuteronomy 30:20 the people of God are told to love the Lord and obey Him, “that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Bold text mine). The land was already sworn to the patriarchs and their descendants. However, to live long in the land with all the blessings of security was dependent on Israel’s compliance with Torah. Disobedience did not earn the judgment of God whereby He angrily shredded the land deed. Rather, the Lord would remove the disobedient nation from the promised territory to cause them to seek His forgiveness. Once they found His pardon, the Israelites return to the land of milk and honey. Consquently, a strong connection exists between dwelling in the land based on Israel’s faithfulness to God and the already settled act of possessing the land given to the fathers of Israel. When RT promoters ignore this contrast, they often meander into murky waters where their understanding of the God’s gift of the land to Israel is misunderstood.
  • the distinctive of residing in the land in safety. In Leviticus 25:18 the Lord guarantees one of the blessings of obedience to Torah is to “dwell in the land” in security. The blessing of the land given to Israel includes not only the land parcel, but the blessing of protection and security from one’s enemies. When Israel was unfaithful, this benefit was lifted and God allowed Israel to be harassed and attacked by surrounding peoples to drive the Jewish inhabitants to God. When Israel forfeited the blessing of security in the land, the permanent inheritance promise of the land was never questioned while the right of temporary occupancy hung in the balance.
  • the distinctive found in obedience meriting enjoyment in the land. We read in Proverbs 10:30, “The righteous will never be removed, but the wicked will not dwell in the land (ESV). The focal point of this text in that the Lord will always leave a remnant of the faithful in the land. “By going in the way of the LORD, that is, by following His standards, the righteous have a refuge of safety (מָעוֹז; cf. Ps. 31:2, 4; Nahum 1:7). They are secure in the land (cf. Prov. 10:9, 25) but the wicked are not (cf. 2:21-22) (Sid S. Buzzell, Proverbs (The Bible Knowledge Commentary; ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck; 2 vols.; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 1:928.). Regardless of the existence of a Jewish remnant in the land-small or large-the stipulations of the Abrahamic Covenant are always in tact.
  • the distinctive of God’s future promise of the land to Israel forever. In Ezekiel 36:27 God promises to place His Spirit in His people to cause them to walk in His ways. “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (ESV). This obedient people, now indwelt by the Spirit of God, will “dwell in the land” which the Lord gave to the patriarchs. In Ezekiel 37:25 the Lord guarantees the people of Israel who are obedient to His statutes “shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever” (bold italics mine). The children of Israel are caused by the Lord to be obedient to Torah by the power of the Holy Spirit. The result is the nation dwells in the land of Israel forever. If so, how can Yeshua be portrayed by RT giving the land to a revised “Israel” or the Church? Nothing of this nature is found in the text of the prophet Ezekiel.

We want to determine what the phrase “dwell in the land” is NOT saying in Psalm 37:3:

  • this is not a conditional arrangement to instruct Israel how to possess the land. Rather, David provides the people with several indications why they should not be burdened with anger or worry about their future: Trust in the Lord; do good, dwell in the land and “cherish faithfulness” (BDB, pg. 945). In this context to “dwell in the land” is not meant to cause Israel concern, but to calm their fears of losing their possession of the land. The future of the faithful is in the hands of God; therefore dwell in the land and trust God to keep you secure in this benefit. Do not allow the materialitic advanatges of the wealthy shake your confidence in God’s promises.
  • this is not a discussion of the title deed to the land. Nothing is mentioned here about ownership of the land. Rather, the Israelites are admonished to “dwell in the land” as an indication of their trust in the Lord. The issue of land ownership is a settled transaction much to the chagrin of RT supporters who want to make the heirship of the land conditional upon obedience to Torah.
  • this is not an add-on to or a subtraction from the Abrahamic Covenant God made with Israel concerning the land. The covenant language is absent in this psalm.

So what IS the phrase “dwell in the land” saying in Psalm 37:3?

  • this is a commandment to enjoy the land as part of a blessing package for Israel. Rather than envy the unrighteous, the faithful are to delight in what God has bestowed upon them. Remember, David is giving Israel reasons why they should not worry as established in Psalm 37:1, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers” (ESV). In contrast to the unfaithful in Israel who are always seeking more, the one who trusts in the Lord is content with the divine blessings he has.
  • this is a commandment to dwell in the land in safety and security. If one is delighting in God and committing their lives to Him, that Israelite finds security. He or she is not worried about another Israelite who ignores God yet is prospering. The Psalmist advises his audience to not be disturbed over the abundance of the possessions of those who toss God aside. Why? The follower of the God of Israel finds security not in things, but in his or her God.

In looking at the ultimate future of the Jewish nation, the words of Rydelnik and Vanlaningham are pertinent: “The exhortation to dwell in the land under the sovereignty of God anticipates the ultimate promise of receiving a place in the future millennial kingdom on earth following the second coming, as directly cited by Messiah” (Psalms, ed. Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, The Moody Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), 783).

We are to delight ourselves in God as the only condition (Psalm 37:4).

In our pursuit of God’s blessings, we sometimes conjure up all kinds of “spiritual” schemes. Our game plans include a myriad of conditions we believe will grab God’s attention. We admonish people to pray more, volunteer to help others endlessly, adhere to a certain doctrine, or experience a specific miraculous connection to God. Yet, our efforts are trivial. The Lord has already declared throughout Scripture He wants to give us all things out of His grace and not according to our efforts.

In Psalm 37, we encounter a person who has confidence God is leading him. Nevertheless, this individual faces someone who has no use for God, yet his life is seamless. Everything appears to be going their way. In response, one asks what it is that I need to do to experience the same blessings. Better yet, what are the blessings the faithful should seek?

Rather than envy the unrighteous or become angry when they prosper, David gives us the key to receiving blessings from God. The answer is found in verse 4: delight yourself in God regardless of another person who appears to be way ahead in the blessing department. And what is the benefit of “delighting in the Lord.” David answers, “God will give you the desires of your heart.” Here is where followers of Yeshua are often misled.

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

When we learn of God giving us the desires of our hearts, we assume God is handing us a debit card with a bottomless cash value. We hypothesize God is assisting us to use our prayer life to amass whatever we want. Our prayer list becomes a JC Penny shopping catalog. We feel entitled to go through the pickings and tick off what we want in the furniture department, men’s clothing, women’s dresses, and a myriad of accessories we believe God wants to hand over to us. After that, we cruise through our local Auto Mall to drool over one gleaming luxury vehicle after another. We add these shiny objects to our prayer lists also.

Is David criticizing the unfaithful for acquiring wealth by dishonesty and manipulation but giving the “thumbs up” to God’s people who use prayer to fulfill their selfish ambitions?

The word for “desires” in verse 4 is best translated as “petitions.” What are the desires or petitions the Lord will fulfill? The only way I can answer that question is to go through Psalm 37 and check off the issues David’s audience is facing.

  • conspired against by the wicked (vs. 12a)
  • the wrongdoer gnashes their teeth at the righteous (vs. 12b)
  • the evildoer plots to bring down the poor and needy and kill those who follow God (vs. 14)
  • experiencing hatred by the wicked (vs. 17)
  • the faithless are financially deceptive towards the faithful (vs. 21)
  • they evil ones copnspire to bring the righteous ones to unjust trials (vs. 33)

So what are the desires of the heart in this context? More money? Bigger houses? More fulfilling careers? Perfect children? A trouble-free life? Not really. Rather, these believers are facing more pressing conflicts. I have wondered whether we really know what to ask God in prayer? A wise way to start our prayers is to petition the Lord to help us get in touch with our real needs and shy away from superficial praying that sounds like someone clicking through the choices on the L.L.Bean website.

Yes, the heart’s desires in Psalm 37 relate to the issues David’s audience is facing. Their needs can be listed: Deliverance. Protection. Survival in a famine. Safety in the face of the threats of the wicked. They need the Lord as a protector, a refuge, their salvation, and one who guarantees their future well-being. Where in this passage do we find God as our servant to prosper us or heal all our illnesses or boost us into personal glory?

The promise of Psalm 37:23-24 is applicable:

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,

Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV)


Psalm 37:4 is not a blank check that ties God down to give us whatever we want. Rather, a heart that delights in God is a sensitive spirit that offers petitions we know He accepts and will answer. I find it misleading when pastors and teachers use passages like these as a gift card from God loaded up with His blessings. The erroneous idea is we can obtain whatever we want according to our materialistic desires while ignoring other spiritual principles. Let’s make a spiritual commitment to mature in our prayer requests and unite our hearts to the Lord’s will when we make our requests.

We are to commit our way to God to experience His fairness (Psalm 37:5-6).

In verses 5-6, David offers encouragement to the believer who is still struggling with his anger and envy towards those indifferent to God and yet are rolling in the dough.

In times of unfairness, stay steady in your focus on the Lord (Psalm 37:5). In verse 5, David provides a two-fold admonishment: 1) commit your way to the Lord 2) trust in Him. In response, God will act. The word “act” is an answer to those who see prayer as an excuse for inactivity. Rather, this passage depicts God as the actor. David is either telling the truth here, or he is deceiving us.

Photo of St. Peter Colum by Pawe³ Windys. https://www.freeimages.com

What is noteworthy about verse 5 is the Psalmist speaks to individuals who are grappling with unfairness in their dealings with others. David does not tell his readers to hire an attorney or seek free legal counsel from a personal rights advocacy group. While those options may apply in specific cases, the author instructs us to focus on the Lord. Why? The text assures us that when God’s people are mistreated, the Lord “will act” or “perform” (עשה).

Underlying the encouragement in verse 5 is God’s priority on our character when we become entwined in trying situations. Will we opt for anger and vengeance or leave our dilemma in God’s hands? One who commits his life to God, yet life deals them a raw deal has two choices. Either we decide to find refuge in the care of the Lord, or we take matters into our own hands. No, David does not advocate we allow others to step all over us. The king of Israel offers one word of timeless advice to guard us against losing our cool: “God will act.” In this promise, we can rest our worried minds and put a leash on our desire for payback towards those who appear to always get away with murder.

In verse 6, the Psalmist fills in the blanks about how God will perform on our behalf.

In times of unfairness, the Lord will bring forth justice (Psalms 37:6). When we feel life is unjust, we can leave all issues of unfairness in His hands. The text reads, “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday” (ESV). This hope covers all the occurrences of unfairness that run throughout this psalm.

In verse 12, we witness the wicked planning and scheming to harm those who obey the Lord. In contrast, the Lord sees the waves of justice about to crash on the wicked (37:13). In addition, we discover in vs. 14; the prosperous are bent on harming the poor, the needy, and the upright. One would think these wealthy Israelites would find contentment and not want to hassle the poor. Why would someone to whom money is no hindrance want to stir up trouble for the less fortunate?

How will the Lord fulfill this promise to “bring forth . . . righteousness as the light, and . . . justice as the noonday”? The Lord will not allow His devout followers to be shamed in bad times (37:19). Injustice will not have the final victory. Furthermore, the Lord will never forsake His people (Psalm 37:28).

In vv. 32-33, we learn the wicked keep a lookout on the righteous to cause harm. However, God will never allow the righteous to be dominated by the wicked. The Lord will stand by the side of the faithful when they are unfairly brought to trial (vs. 33). In vs. 38, the ultimate destiny of the evildoers is described, “But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.” In other words, those who practice injustice will be called to account.

David’s admonition in verse 6 can be summed up: Commit the entire matter of unfairness to the Lord. Let Him act on your behalf. You will be vindicated. If you are mistreated unfairly and feel life has dealt you nothing but low blows, take note of God’s commitment to you. He will vindicate us.

The Lord gives us a much better reward than the perks other seek in this life-span. Since His blessings endure forever, how far superior are His riches than the unsatisfying and temporary prosperity of the wicked.

The observation offered by J. A. Moyter in the New Bible Commentary reinforces what has already been noted:

“The basis on which these commands rest is the transience of the wrongdoer (2), the sure blessing of God (4-6), the ultimate setting of all to rights (9-11)

(J.A. Motyer, The Psalms, ed. D. A Carson et al., New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition. Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994, 508).

We are to rest in God instead of having uneasiness about the future (Psalm 37:7-8)

In the final two verses discussed in this article, David repeats the initial reason from 37:1 on why we should not worry when life treats us poorly. The text reads, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil (Psalm 37:7-8). If the reader has done all God calls for, the next thing is to rest in Him and not carry the burden of resentment. Why? We have learned God will carry our burden.

Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash

Though it is not this author’s intention to travel all the way through Psalm 37, the key actions of the righteous in vv. 25-27 are pertinent here. To those faithful to the Lord God, the King of Israel instructs us how to remain at peace or rest in the Lord when the unfairness of life lures us to stray from biblical principles:

  • First, accept the fact God will never forsake us (Psalm 37:25). Trusting the Lord for our daily needs is never out of the question. “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread”(Psalm 37:25 ESV). One immediately thinks of the Lord’s Prayer in which Yeshua taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11 ESV)
  • Second, despite any poverty we undergo due to our putting the Lord firsl, we are to be generous knowing God is the source of wealth (Psalm 37:26). The unfairness of those who prosper and turn their backs on the Lord should never affect our own generosity. David describes those who commit their ways to the Lord in verse 26, “He is ever lending generously” (ESV).
  • Finally, the faithful need to shun any expressions of retribution on the prosperous. Even though the righteous may feel justified to take matters into their owns hands, the Lord says, “Turn away from evil and do good.” In fact, David promises the faithful ones, “so shall you dwell forever” (Psalm 37:27 ESV). Here is a powerful promise of eternal life in contrast to those who are “cut off” from God’s benefits.

To recap, in vv. 1-6, we are told not to be angry or envious. Rather we are to trust in the Lord, delight ourselves in Him, and commit our way to His goodness. In other words, place your concerns in His hands. Do not become fossilized in our anger when we are treated with inequity, especially when we observe those unfaithful to God prosper. An angry attitude towards others is an alternative way of saying we are dissatisfied with the Lord’s handling of our needs. In contrast, He knows our deep desires. He hears those deep petitions that grow out of our disappointments. He sees our longing for the blessings the wicked find so easily. God will not abandon us. God has our back.

Conclusion

In Psalm 37:7 and 46:10, we are told twice to “be still before the Lord” and “be still and know that I am God.” Both of these statements are commands in the original Hebrew. However, the two commands are set in a different environment.

In Psalm 46:10, we are ordered to be still and refrain from all activity or strategizing to rectify our situation on a worldwide scale. Listen to the sentences that come after the imperative to be still before the Lord. ” I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth!” In a time of worldwide turmoil such as we face today, the Scriptures admonish us to be quiet before the Lord. Know that he is God, and He is n control of all events on a global scale. Nothing escapes His attention.

The temptation is to believe God does His greatest work only on a large scale, as seen in Psalm 46:10. However, in 37:7, the follower of the God of Israel is directed to be still or quiet before the Almighty when we observe those indifferent to Him wind up living a better life than we experience. Psalm 37:7 counsels us who remain patiently still before God, “fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”

c

On a small scale or a much larger one, we are commanded to be still before God. The Lord cares about the global pandemics, earthquakes, political takeovers, and the oppression of defenseless people. Yet He is also aware of our financial setbacks and struggles. No burden is too big for God to handle nor too small for the Lord to care about.

Louis Lapides

This week a large alligator attacked a reptile handler at a children’s birthday party in West Valley City, Utah. The expert handler, Lindsay Bull, made a hand gesture to guide the alligator back into the water tank after it climbed onto a platform. According to first-hand eyewitnesses and a graphic video, the gator suddenly grabbed the 31-year-old alligator handler’s hand in its treacherous mouth and yanked her into the tank.

Several visitors to the Scales and Tails Utah reptile center jumped into the tank to help free the handler’s hand from the alligator’s clenched jaw. Rather than resist the giant reptile, the handler went limp until the alligator released her hand, and then she jumped out of the tank to safety. Emergency personnel rushed the handler to the hospital, where she underwent surgery and is recovering.

What amazed me as I viewed the video was the handle’s refusal to wrestle with the alligator. When she refrained from struggling, the reptile calmed down and opened its giant jaws. When our circumstances clamp down on us, we want to resist. We yield to our anger rather than remain still before the Lord. We prefer to wrestle with God and grab control of a dire situation. Scriptures instruct us when we are quiet in a trusting state before the Almighty, we find freedom from our worries and repair of our broken dreams.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

top

Bad Behavior has blocked 779 access attempts in the last 7 days.