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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Psalms 37

 

 

Verses 1-40

Psalm 37

A Psalm of David

1 Fret not thyself because of evil doers,

Neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,

And wither as the green herb.

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;

So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

4 Delight thyself also in the Lord;

And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

5 Commit thy way unto the Lord;

Trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light,

And thy judgment as the noon-day.

7 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.

8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath:

Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

9 For evil doers shall be cut off:

But those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.

10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be:

Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.

11 But the meek shall inherit the earth;

And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

12 The wicked plotteth against the just,

And gnasheth upon him with his teeth.

13 The Lord shall laugh at him:

For he seeth that his day is coming.

14 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.

15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart,

And their bows shall be broken.

16 A little that a righteous man hath is better

Than the riches of many wicked.

17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken:

But the Lord upholdeth the righteous.

18 The Lord knoweth the days of the upright:

And their inheritance shall be for ever.

19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time:

And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

20 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.

21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again:

But the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.

22 For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth;

And they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord:

And he delighteth in his way.

24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down:

For the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old;

Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken.

Nor his seed begging bread.

26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth;

And his seed is blessed.

27 Depart from evil, and do good;

And dwell for evermore.

28 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.

29 The righteous shall inherit the land,

And dwell therein for ever.

30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh Wisdom of Solomon,

And his tongue talketh of judgment.

31 The law of his God is in his heart;

None of his steps shall slide.

32 The wicked watcheth the righteous,

And seeketh to slay him.

33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand,

Nor condemn him when he is judged.

34 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.

35 I have seen the wicked in great power,

And spreading himself like a green bay tree.

36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not:

Yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.

37 Mark the perfect Prayer of Manasseh, and behold the upright:

For the end of that man is peace.

38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together:

The end of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord:

He is their strength in the time of trouble.

40 And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them:

He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them,

Because they trust in him.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Its Contents and Composition.—We certainly cannot call this Psalm a Theodicy, and hardly a didactic Psalm. For it does not, as it were, allay doubts of God’s righteous government (De Wette), which are solved in Psalm 49, and still more in Psalm 73but it exhorts not to yield to feelings of ill humor excited by the apparent prosperity of the ungodly; but rather to trust in the protection of God, the righteous Judges, and to persevere in doing good, with the assurance of the final and often very sudden ruin of the wicked, and the sure deliverance and manifold blessings of the pious. And these exhortations are not developed in a didactic form, or elaborately proved, but they are expressed in a form corresponding with that of Proverbs, in rounded clauses easily remembered, which treat of the same thoughts in very different and often agreeable figures, and turns of expression; and they are so connected by an alphabetical arrangement, that “they hang together not unlike many precious stones or pearls, which are strung on one string in one necklace” (Amyrald). Two verses of two lines are as a rule allotted to each letter, and indeed so that the parts of the tetrastich are connected with one another in sense. Yet this Psalm likewise, as the previous alphabetical Psalm ( Psalm 9, 25, 34), has many deviations from the rule, which are hardly to be explained from a preconceived plan, and with reference to the number ten as a sign of what is perfect and complete in itself (Hengst.). The Psalm 37:7; Psalm 37:20; Psalm 37:34, have each only three lines for the corresponding letters, whilst the letters נ and ת have strophes of five lines in two verses, yet so that the 26 th verse of two lines follows the tristich ( Psalm 37:25), whilst the 40 th verse of three lines follows the 39 th verse with two lines. ח is used twice, in Psalm 37:14-15. ע seems to be missing, and in its place ם forms a long strophe in Psalm 37:27-29. However, there seems to be here merely a false division of the verses. If the new strophe is begun in the middle of the present Psalm 37:28, it is not necessary to supply the missing strophe by erasing ל of the first word לְעוֹלָם (Bellermann, Metrik S. 121); we need only not to count the Lamed (Maurer), as we do not count the Vav of Psalm 37:39. This explanation is simpler than the supposition that a clause has fallen off after Psalm 37:28 c, although the Sept, Symm, Vulg. have such an one = injusti punientur, as if they had read עַוָּלִים נשְׁמָדוּ (Capp, Ewald, et al.), or עריצים (Hitzig). De Wette has taken back his supposition that the wicked are heathen and the righteous are Jews, as indeed nothing indicates that the poet comforted his fellow-citizens, suffering under the oppression of a foreign yoke, with the prospect of a speedy change of fortune (Rosenmüller). There are no references at all, that can be traced (Hupfeld), to such relations as occurred in the Syrian oppression (Olsh.), or would suit the government of David (De Wette). The contents even lead rather to a period prior to the composition of the book of Job, than to a period subsequent to this, and not at all to “a revived Jewish dogmatism” (Hitzig). And, as it has already been remarked, neither the quiet didactic tone nor the alphabetic form lead to a later period of composition. With respect to the resemblances with Proverbs 3:31; Proverbs 16:3; Proverbs 16:8; Proverbs 20:24; Proverbs 23:17; Proverbs 24:19, these do not imply that we have here reminiscences and repetitions (Hitzig, G. Baur). They may be explained rather from an internal relationship with the Proverbs of Solomon which are rooted and grounded in the poetry of David, such as is now before us (Hengst.). Moreover, the repetition of the same thoughts and turns of expression, is not necessarily due to the alphabetical limitation. They may have the practical aim of making a strong impression (Berleb. Bibel). This agrees very well with the advanced age of the auther ( Psalm 37:25), who, however, can not at all be charged with tedious prolixity, but rather discloses a complete mastery of the material, a ripened experience and a great skill in the art of a flowing, clear style, which, with all its simplicity, has yet peculiarities of expression. All this is rather in favor of David, whose life affords ample occasion for the experience and feelings here expressed: “Such examples David had certainly seen in Saul, Ahithophel, Absalom and the like, who were powerful in their ungodly natures, and before one could look around him they passed away, so that it might be asked and said, Where are they gone?” (Luther). Psalm 37:5 has afforded the theme of the song of Paul Gerhardt: Befiehl du deine Wege.—It is possible that Psalm 37:12; Psalm 37:21; Psalm 37:31, on account of similarity, begin special clauses of the Psalm (Hitzig, Delitzsch).[FN3]

[Str. I. Psalm 37:1. Fret not thyself.—This verb literally denotes to heat oneself with excitement or anger. It is used in this form only in Proverbs 24:19, and in this Psalm in Psalm 37:1; Psalm 37:7-8.

Psalm 37:2. Grass is the usual figure of perishableness, and is frequently coupled with flower of the field, comp. Psalm 90:5; Psalm 103:15; Psalm 129:6; Isaiah 40:6-7; Job 14:2. Here it is connected with green herb, which is literally greenness of herbage, and refers to the tender grass and young herbage. Comp. Psalm 1:3.—C. A. B.]

Str. II. Psalm 37:3. Dwell in the land.—The possession of the land and dwelling in it are frequently designated as the reward of righteousness. But it does not follow from this any more than from Psalm 37:27 that we are here to think of a promise (Rosenm, Stier, Hengst.). The context is opposed to this and likewise the connection of the clauses. Accordingly, we must suppose an exhortation, which refers not so much to a conflict with desires to emigrate out of displeasure with affairs at home (most interpreters), as to an encouragement to a quiet life, tranquillized by God, in the land of the promise. If the expression is merely regarded as typical and explained of the entire position in which a man is placed by God, of the possession and calling of the individual as well as that maintained by every one (Hupfeld, Hitzig), then the coloring of the expression which was so comforting to the Israelites, is too much weakened, although it is true that this clause is parallel to that immediately preceding, and the consequences of the trust are stated (De Wette).—Practice faithfulness.—These words cannot mean: nourish thyself honestly (Luther); or: feed securely = live in careless trust (Chald, Calvin); perhaps: feed thyself in faithfulness. Moreover, this faithfulness, according to the context, is not the faithfulness of God, in which the proud are to rejoice (Jerome, Cleric, Hengst.). There is no promise expressed here, so likewise it is not said that the pious will rejoice in their own faithfulness, or will be fed, that Isaiah, preserved and nourished on account of their constancy in faith and their trust in God (Isaki). It is an exhortation to the loving practice of faithfulness; for רעה means: to go or be behind something (Hitzig).

[Str. III. Psalm 37:5-6. Roll thy way upon Jehovah.—Comp. Psalm 22:8; Proverbs 16:3; 1 Peter 5:7. The way here refers to the whole course of life, with its troubles and cares. These God will assume together with the care of the way of those who trust in Him.—He will do it, that Isaiah, He will accomplish what they cannot do and will bring it to a good end, as Psalm 22:31; Psalm 52:9. This is still further carried out in the next verse. Jehovah will cause thy righteousness, which is now in the darkness of night, to go up as the light, or the daylight, the dawning sun; and then still more emphatically: thy right as the noonday, the clearest, brightest and fullest light. Comp. Isaiah 58:10; Job 11:17; also Job 5:14; Isaiah 59:10; Amos 8:9.—C. A. B.]

[Str. IV. Psalm 37:7. Be still before Jehovah.—Perowne: “A word expressive of that calm resignation which leaves itself absolutely in the hands of God. This hushed, bowed temper of spirit best suits us. Here is the best cure for dissatisfaction with the present and for anxiety about the future, that we leave both in the hands of God.”—C. A. B.]

[Str. V. Psalm 37:8-9. Only to do evil.—Alexander: “Do not indulge a passion which can only make thee a partaker in the guilt of those who are its objects.”—They shall inherit the land.—The they is emphatic. The land is the land of promise, the common blessing of all the faithful.—C. A. B.[FN4]]

[Str. VI. Psalm 37:10. And thou lookest at his place and he is not there.—Some take the place as the subject of the last clause, as if his very place had disappeared, but it is better with Hupfeld, Moll, et al, to take the ungodly as the subject as in the parallel member, the place which he usually occupied knows him no more. Comp. Psalm 37:36 and Psalm 10:15.—C. A. B.]

[Str. VII. Psalm 37:12. Jehovah laughs at him.—Delitzsch: “The Lord, who regards the attack on the righteous as an attack on Himself, laughs at the angry plotters ( Psalm 2:4), for Hebrews, who orders the fates of men, foresees from afar with omniscient glance, the day of the wicked, that is the day of his death, of his visitation.”—C. A. B.]

[Str. VIII. Psalm 37:14-15. The sword and the bow are usual figures for all kinds of means of doing injury. Here being directed against the poor and innocent, in accordance with the lex talionis they pierce their own heart, and are broken under their own feet, vid. Psalm 6:15, 16; 9:15, 16; 57:6; Proverbs 26:27; Esther 7:10.—C. A. B.]

[Str. IX. Psalm 37:16. The little of the righteous is better than the riches of many wicked.—Hupfeld: “This is true in many respects: 1) Because with contentment and the blessing of God it reaches farther than the great accumulation of unrighteous goods; which (even according to our proverb) does not prosper ( Proverbs 13:25; Job 20:12, under the figure of food which does not agree with the body); 2) because it alone affords rest and satisfaction to the soul, which are frightened away from it by the cares of riches and unrighteous possessions. In this sense the similar Proverbs, Proverbs 15:16; Proverbs 16:8; because the riches of the unrighteous do not last, but soon pass away.”

Psalm 37:17. Arms of the wicked.—These are the instruments of his wickedness, and the means of his power; as Psalm 10:15; 1 Samuel 2:31; Job 38:15. Comp. Psalm 3:7, where the teeth are broken.—C. A. B.]

Str. X. [ Psalm 37:18. Knoweth the days—Perowne: “Watcheth over, careth for, lovingly orders all that befalls them. See the same use of the verb, Psalm 1:6; Psalm 31:7, compared with15. ‘My times are in Thy hand.’ ”—C. A. B.]

Psalm 37:20. The splendor of the pastures.—Since כֵּר generally = lamb, it may be translated: as the most precious of the lambs (Syr, Chald, Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Cocc, Venema, Rosenm, et al.), by which then is understood the fat pieces of the lambs of the sacrifice, which were burnt upon the altar. This is much better than to refer it to the most fine wool of lambs (Köster), or the most precious lambs, that Isaiah, lambs of the sacrifice (Calvin, Cleric). The interpretation: as the delight of the lambs = grass (Hengst.) is artificial. The meanings of “circuit, meadow, pasture,” are evident from Psalm 65:13; Isaiah 30:23 (and apparently Isaiah 14:30 in its corrected reading).—They have vanished in smoke, vanished.—This hardly refers to Sodom and Gomorrah (Hengst, after John Arndt); scarcely to the burning up of the pieces of the sacrifice, or of dry grass, which had been set on fire, Isaiah 5:24 (most interpreters). Moreover the ב is not to be changed into כּ after Hosea 13:3; it is rendered certain by Psalm 102:4; comp. Psalm 78:33; Psalm 39:6, and indicates comparison, “in nature of” (Rosenm, De Wette, Hupf, Hitzig, Delitzsch). Our translation follows the accents.

[Str. XI. Psalm 37:21-22. Perowne: “The blessing and the curse of God, as seen in the different lots of the righteous and the wicked. The wicked, through God’s curse resting upon him, is reduced to poverty, so that he is compelled to borrow, and cannot pay; whereas the righteous hath even abundance not only for his own wants, but for the wants of others. It is the promise, Deuteronomy 15:6; Deuteronomy 28:12; Deuteronomy 28:44, turned into a proverb.”—C. A. B].

Str. XII. Psalm 37:23-24. A man’s steps are established by Jehovah.—[Hupfeld: “The Divine blessing and assistance of the righteous under another figure; that of a guide in the way of life, who guides his steps and makes them secure and although he may fall, He lifts him up again.”—C. A. B.]. Since גבר has not the article, it is not to be explained as such a Prayer of Manasseh, as the one just spoken of (De Wette, et al.) The parallel passages, Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 20:24, are in favor of a general interpretation. Some have translated “ordered” (after the Sept. Vulg, Jerome), instead of established, yet this is contrary to usage.—For Jehovah sustains his hand—[So Hupf, Delitzsch, Moll, et al, and not with His hand, Böttcher, A. V. et al—C. A. B.]

[Str. XIII. Psalm 37:25-26. Delitzsch: “It is an old Theological rule that: promissiones corporales intelligendæ sunt cum exceptione crucis et castigatione. Abandonment and poverty for a time the Psalmist does not question, but he will meet the temptation, which springs up to those who fear God, from those circumstances which apparently contradict the Divine righteousness; and he does this by contrasting the final abiding condition with the transient one.”—C. A. B.]

[Str. XV. Psalm 37:31. His steps shall not waver—comp. Psalm 18:36. The law within the heart keeps him steadily in the right way.—C. A. B.]

[Str. XVI. Psalm 37:33. Perowne: “Men may condemn but God acquits.—Here, as in 1 Corinthians 4:3, the righteous judgment of the Great Judge is opposed to the ἀνακρίνειν of human judgment (ἡμέρα). So Tertullian: ‘Si condemnamur a mundo, absolvimur a Deo.’ ”—C. A. B.]

Str. XVIII. Psalm 37:34-36. I saw a Wicked Prayer of Manasseh, arrogant, and spreading himself as a leafy indigenous tree. And one passed by and lo he was no more.—Hitzig prefers instead of arrogant, a word which after the Sept.=towering, and translates the following line after a corrected reading with the Sept. and Vulg.; and spreading himself as a cedar of Lebanon, and I went by. Hupfeld on the other hand after Aben Ezra, Calvin, Cleric.: he passed by =passed away.

Str. XIX. Psalm 37:37. Mark the just Prayer of Manasseh,etc. The ancient translators have all taken the concretes as abstracts and have likewise given the verbs another meaning=preserve honesty and keep rectitude (righteousness) before your eyes. From this originated Luther’s: remain pious and keep yourself upright. In the latter case there seems to have been a confounding of ראה with רעה of Psalm 37:5. But to regard these words as abstracts is contrary to usage. שׁמר is elsewhere used only of practical keeping as Psalm 37:34, from which verse this has been made dependent without any need. The true interpretation was seen already by Aben Ezra, Isaki, Calvin and most all recent interpreters have adopted it.—That the man of peace hath posterity. It follows from Psalm 37:38 that the reference here is to posterity as Psalm 109:13; Jeremiah 31:17; Amos 4; Amos 9:1; Ezekiel 22:25, (Sept, Venema, De Wette, Olsh, Hupfeld, [Perowne]), and not to the “future,” whether for both verses (Calvin, Cleric, Hengst. [Alexander] or only for Psalm 37:37. The context and the construction favors least of all the translation: the end of the man is peace (Kimchi, Geier, et al. [A. V. likewise].

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Take care that the sight of the success of the ungodly does not kindle in your heart envious jealousy and wrath, or burning ill humor and consuming fretfulness. Their success is only apparent and of short duration. It is like the green grass which soon withers and is like smoke which vanishes away. Accordingly the pious have no reason to be excited by it, but rather have every reason to strengthen and exercise themselves in faith in the holy government of God and in obedience to God’s holy will, in order that they may live to see the end and wait patiently for the result. “This is a fine comparison, a terror to hypocrites and a comfort to the afflicted. How nicely it lifts us up above our sight and sets us before God’s sight. Before our sight the hypocrite’s substance is green and flourishing and increases and covers the whole world, so that it alone seems to be something, as the green grass covers and adorns the earth. But before God’s sight, what are they? Hay, soon to be made; and the higher the grass grows the nearer it is to the scythe and fork. … Why then should you be angry, when their wickedness and success have such a short existence?” (Luther).

2. He who puts his trust in God, and has his pleasure in the Lord, will not reward evil with evil, will not meet violence with violence, will not be drawn and driven by injustice to injustice, but will continue in doing good, in devotion to God, in pious conversation, and long before the final decision comes, will live to see all the promises of God gradually but surely fulfilled to the pious, whilst the ungodly will never gain their ends and often will be destroyed suddenly. “Thus He takes all impatient thoughts entirely away and gives rest to the heart. As if He would say: dear child, cease thine impatience and curse not and wish no evil, these are human and wicked thoughts … And what help is there in this anger? It does not make the case any better, it only leads deeper into the mire. Thou hast hindered God from bestowing His grace and favor, and thou hast become like the evil doers and will be destroyed like them.” (Luther).—“Many of them do wicked things in wrath from revenge and impatience, that they regret afterwards forever” (Joh. Arnd).

3. The tribulation of the pious through the violence of the wicked is often so great, that the patient seem to be entirely subdued, yet the meek will not only gain and keep peace, but the inheritance, whose foundation, pledge and type they have in the land of promise, will continue to be assured to them by the power of God, and happiness in life will by God’s hand arise in shining clearness ( Job 11:17; Isaiah 58:8; Micah 7:9), to the innocent sufferer out of every trouble. “Since now our dear God has such a great work in mind respecting all those who fear Him, be still in the Lord and hinder Him not in His work; but wait upon Him in patience.” (Joh. Arnd). On the other side the day of the ungodly is already now before God’s eyes, in which the splendor of their success, and their light of life will be put out. He treats the devices and the preparations of the wicked as already now of nought, that Isaiah, as weak, and as foolish; but He will some time bring them to nought, he will turn their weapons and arrows upon them in a deadly form and will break their arms, that Isaiah, the instruments or the means of their power and violence, so that they will no longer be able to injure others or even to help themselves.

4. God’s blessing upon the pious shows itself in this, that they are not only satisfied and delighted with a little, because they have their delight in God, and content themselves in Him as the highest good, but that they as individuals can accomplish much more with a little, than many ungodly persons with much, that, they constantly experience fresh tokens of Divine care and provision, so that they suffer no lack, but rather are able to minister to others with their goods and gifts, and that they transmit their inheritance to their posterity, which in their turn become blessings. Thus a chain of blessings passes through the life and the generations of the pious with all the need, poverty, trouble and dangers of earth. The ungodly, on the other hand, are not helped by their number or their power, their craft or their strength, their riches or their arrogance. The curse comes upon them for their wickedness, and the judgment of God destroys them and theirs.

5. In the distribution of blessings and curses to the pious and the ungodly the righteous government of God manifests itself already in this world. We can rely upon it with the more firmness, as it has its deepest ground, in the Divine love for justice. Even on this account, however, he who would receive this blessing and enjoy God’s protection and help must take care, that the marks of true piety are found in him. Such a man may very well have to endure many tribulations, needs and dangers, for the ungodly have a hostility to the righteous and seek to put them out of the way. But the hand of God is ready to help those who walk in the way of God, because they have God’s law in their hearts, and this way leads above. Those who walk in it, may stumble and fall, but they will not remain upon the ground and perish. God puts His hand under them to support them. But this hand exterminates the ungodly with their race, so that at last not one remains and not one escapes the judge ( Amos 4:2; Amos 9:1; Ezekiel 23:25).

6. Every attentive observer sees sufficient examples of this government of God in history. Would that this might awaken the fear of God in all earnestness, and strengthen the power of trust in God, in order that every sincerely pious man might constantly receive richer experiences of the Divine blessing. “Thus then, let every one see to it, how he stands and lives before God in this respect; whether he has faith enough to trust God for a piece of bread, and whether we allow to Him power, wisdom and faithfulness enough to assist us in every righteous cause, help us through it and provide for us and maintain His own work” (Berl. Bib.).—“Ah, says Hebrews, God cannot and will not suffer that faithfulness and confidence should go unrewarded, else He would not be true, just, and truthful.” (Joh. Arnd).—“O the shameful unfaithfulness, distrust and damned unbelief, that we should not believe such rich, powerful and comforting promises of God, and stumble so very easily, at such little things, as when we merely hear the wicked words of the ungodly. Help, God, that we may some day have true faith. Amen!” (Luther). We would here with Tholuck remember that Luther on his death-bed said to his children, Children, riches I do not leave you, but I leave you, a rich God.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The prosperity of the ungodly blossoms but a short time, it has a corrupt root and a bitter fruit.—The right of the righteous may for a while be obscured, but God brings it surely to light.—He who has his delight in the Lord, may be troubled for awhile in the world, but it will finally be well with him.—Put your confidence in God, then thou wilt not be vexed with the apparent prosperity of the ungodly; have your delight in the Lord and you will not envy the fleeting joy of the unrighteous; continue in the exercise of good and you will not change your end for the vain gains of the wicked.—The ungodly have no true and abiding prosperity, but only those who fear God.—The only, but sure means of salvation are, to fear, love, and trust God above all things.—Do not recompense the wickedness of the wicked with evil, but leave the judgment to the Lord. He is the just Rewarder.—Impatience and wrath are not productive of good, but only make the bad worse, and evil times worse times.—It is especially undeserved suffering arid unjust attacks, that show the great strength of trust in God, the power of patience and the strength of meekness.—The pious are as sure of the blessing of God as the ungodly of His curse; and both extend even to the coming generations.—It is due to the Divine blessing that the pious accomplish more with little than the ungodly with much.—Peace and joy depend for men not upon riches or poverty, but upon communion with God.—The great and abiding gain of godliness.—The mouth, heart and steps of the pious harmonize with one another and with God’s will and word.—Even the pious may stumble and fall, but God will not let them lie upon the ground, and prevents them from falling into ruin by His hand and grace.—The righteous have many enemies, but although their power and wickedness are even as great as their number, yet they are assured of the final victory by God’s faithfulness, power and grace.—It is a part of the experience of the pious, that they should be tried in patience and exercised in waiting, but that their waiting should not be vain, because it is founded in trust in God, and has as its end the coming of the Lord.—It is one and the same hand of God, which delivers the pious and exterminates the ungodly with their seed.—There is a difference between the pious and the ungodly not only according to their dispositions, but likewise in their actions and their destinies.—What God has promised to the pious, He knows how to give to them and to keep for them, yet all at the proper time and according to His wisdom.—The wishes of those who fear God are fulfilled; but the devices of the ungodly perish.—God not only distinguishes between the righteous and the unrighteous; He finally separates them from one another.—We may be visited by severe calamity, and be given up by all the world, and yet we are not forsaken by God.—God sees not only how men act on earth, He rewards them for it, whether early or late.—The pious not only receive a blessing for themselves and their seed; they will likewise become blessings through God’s grace.—God knows His own children and rewards their trust abundantly; He protects them in danger; He comforts them in time of trouble; He nourishes them in days of hunger; He delivers them out of the hand of all their enemies.

Starke: There are evil-doers enough in the world, but if we should conquer them with the sword it would only be worse; seek rather to win them by love and good conduct and leave the rest to God.—Whoever reflects upon the miserable end of the prosperity of the ungodly will rather be moved to pity and sympathy and prayer than to angry zeal and ill-will against these poor men.—Many a man is dissatisfied with God the Lord, because He does not do what he desires; but whoever is satisfied with the will of God, receives what he desires, yea more than he wishes. O what happy people we would be, if we should cast all our cares upon the Lord, attend to our calling with diligence and leave the result with God.—Satan seeks to excite believers to sinful anger by the wickedness of the ungodly. Hence the necessity of watching, patience, faith and prayer.—If we are obliged to wait with much patience for the heavenly inheritance, it is yet worth the trouble, for it is eternal and imperishable.—We must not reckon the time of the prosperity of the ungodly by the course of the physical sun, but by the numbers of the Holy Spirit ( Psalm 90:5), thus will we find, that in comparison with the everlasting pains of hell, scarcely a moment has been allotted to them.—The ungodly do not lack the will to do mischief; but what can they do more than gnash their teeth ( Acts 7:54).—The ungodly have long hands and much assistance in persecuting the pious; but God’s hands reach farther still and are much stronger, than that they should be laid hold of and cast down.—True riches do not consist in great provisions, but in contentment with what God gives.—God has already resolved, how long the godly shall remain in the vale of sorrow; during this time He provides for them as a father; afterwards He will give them the inheritance of eternal life.—Smoke rises on high at first with strength as if it would go even to the heavens, but a little wind can drive it asunder, so that it cannot longer be seen; see, the ungodly are like this smoke.—Pious parents have the consolation that God’s blessing will come upon their children, and pious children are assured, that God will bless them on account of their parents.—Mercy is one of the most beautiful virtues, not only on account of its character, because we thus become like God, but also on account of its reward.—If heaven and earth pass away, yet the inheritance of believers cannot fail.—It is impossible to do good and bad at the same time.—The heart, mouth and entire walk of the believer are sanctified and blessed by the Word of God.—Who would not rather have a bad beginning and a good end, than a good beginning and a bad end?—What we lack, will be supplied by the gracious assistance of the strong God.

Luther: The righteous give, the ungodly do not, and yet both receive from God.—God blesses thee temporally and eternally, that thou mayest trust in Him, although thou art cursed and injured by the ungodly.—God does not take poverty from His saints but He will not let them perish.—Selnekker: Torment thyself not with impatience and wrath, but be satisfied with the will of God and His long-suffering, and hold fast to His word and promises, then wilt thou obtain the desire of thine heart.—Experience makes the best interpretation.—Schnepf: The possessions of the ungodly burn as grease in the fire.—Frisch: The whole earth is the Lord’s, and so belongs to His children.—Every one desires to be happy here in time and there in eternity, but very few use the true means of obtaining it.—Arndt: The dear cross and poverty are no signs of disfavor, but a trial of faith and patience, a mirror of the wonderful help and preservation of God, and an evidence, that God is not pleased with great splendor but with faith, fear of God, humility and patience.—Oetinger: Every day of the righteous man has in God’s purpose its special measure of grace and trial, and serves to complete his lot.—Tholuck: The salvation of the pious remains immovable, the longer it seems to tarry, the more imperishable will be its endurance.—Who would despair, when God declares that His own treasury is in the possession of His children.—It must be a rare occurrence, that any one who has been a friend to many in trouble, should not be able to find a friend in need.—Stiller: If it is not as you could wish, examine yourself; perhaps it is the fault of your wishes or your other actions.—Guenther: Life and death are both set before us, we are to choose. The choice seems easy, and yet most make the mistake.—Taube: To be still before the Lord is the true test, whether we trust the Lord, have our delight in the Lord and commit our way to the Lord in deed and in truth.—It is particularly evil days which give especial proofs of the faithfulness of God toward the pious.—The pious may suffer want, but not ruin.—Thym: If the end is good, all is good1) Therefore remain pious, although the cross weighs upon you; 2) deviate not from the narrow way although the world may entice; 3) finally, if it is well with the pious, that outweighs all.—The righteous are never forsaken1) In life, the Lord leads them graciously; 2) in death, He sends them His angel of peace; 3) in eternity, He crowns them with the crown of victory.

[Matt. Henry: Fretfulness and envy are sins that are their own punishment, they are the uneasiness of the spirit, and the rottenness of the bones.—We must follow providence, and not force it; subscribe to Infinite Wisdom of Solomon, and not prescribe.—If we take care to keep a good conscience, we may leave it to God to take care of our good name.—A fretful, discontented spirit lies open to many temptations and those that indulge it are in danger of doing evil.—They that are sure of an everlasting inheritance in the other world have no reason to envy the wicked their transitory possessions and pleasures in this world.—The law of God must be a commanding, ruling principle in the heart; it must be a light there, a spring there, and then the conversation will be regular and uniform; none of his steps will slide; it will effectually prevent backsliding into sin, and the uneasiness that follows from it.—If we make conscience of keeping God’s way, we may with cheerfulness wait on Him, and commit to Him our way; and we shall find Him a good master, both to His working servants and to His waiting servants.—Barnes: The small property of one truly good Prayer of Manasseh, with his character and hopes, is of more value than would be the aggregate wealth of many rich wicked men with their character and prospects.—Other things being equal, the honest, temperate, pure, pious man will be the most prosperous in the world: for honesty, temperance, purity, and piety produce the industry, economy, and prudence on which prosperity depends.—As a great law, the children of the pious are not vagrants and beggars. As a great law they are sober, industrious, and prosperous. The vagrants and the beggars of the world are from other classes; and whatever may be the bearing of religion on the destinies of men in the future world, in this world the effect is to make them virtuous, industrious, prudent and successful in their worldly affairs, so that, their children are not left to beggary and want, but to respectability and to competence.—It is better to have God for our friend in life, and our support in death, than to have all the external prosperity of wicked men.—Spurgeon: Who envies the fat bullock the ribbons and garlands which decorate him as he is led to the shambles? Yet the case is a parallel one; for ungodly rich men are but as beasts fattened for the slaughter.—There is joy in holy activity which drives away the rust of discontent.

Very much of the outward depends upon the inward; where there is heaven in the heart there will be heaven in the house.—A silent tongue in many cases not only shows a wise head, but a holy heart.—The evil man does not see how close his destruction is upon his heels; he boasts of crushing others when the foot of justice is already uplifted to trample him as the mire of the streets. Sinners in the hand of an angry God, and yet plotting against His children! Poor souls, thus to run upon the point of Jehovah’s spear.—Content finds multum in parvo, while for a wicked heart the whole world is too little.—Where the children of the righteous are not godly, there must be some reason for it in parental neglect, or some other guilty cause. The friend of the Father is the friend of the family. The God of Abraham is the God of Isaac and Jacob.—Among the legacies of wicked men the surest entail is a judgment on their family.—Policy slips and trips, it twists and tacks, and after all is worsted in the long run, but sincerity plods on its plain pathway and reaches the goal.—Good men are men of Mark, and are worth our study.—C. A. B.]

Footnotes:

FN#3 - Delitzsch: “The bond which connects Psalm 37 with36 is the similarity of contents which here and there likewise correspond in expressions. The fundamental thought which pervades the whole Psalm is like that of the first verses: Be not scandalized at the success of the ungodly, but hope in the Lord, for the success of the ungodly soon comes to an end, and the result separates the righteous and the unrighteous. Therefore Tertulian calls this Psalm providentiæ speculum; Isodore, portio contra murmur; Luther, vestis piorum, cui adscriptum: Hic Sanctorum patientia est ( Revelation 14:12).”—C. A. B.]

FN#4 - Delitzsch: “The land in this Psalm is throughout the promised possession of salvation, the land of the presence of Jehovah, which has not only a glorious past but likewise a future full of promise, and will finally be the inheritance of the true Israel, in a more complete manner that under Joshua.”—C. A. B.]

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 37:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-37.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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