In complete contrast to the malevolence of wicked people on this earth… is God. While we stand against devious behavior, we stand in the presence of the Almighty. The next words in Psalm 37 remind us of this:
"Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires." (NLT)
I can get so worked up about what is wrong in this world that my focus gravitates towards sin and evil. I can become overwhelmed with the problems, the tensions, the frustrations, the uncertainties, the pot-stirrers… and in return I can neglect considering what is true and noble and lovely and right and praiseworthy.
These words were first heard by God's people in the land of Israel. And these words most likely haunted God's people as they were in Exile. Since those days, these words have become a promise from the Lord. These words are God's instructions. Trust and obey and delight in the Lord. Trust in God (that He is Good and Almighty) and do what God says to do (which is Good) and delight in Him. Instead of fixating on others (as in verse 1), fixate on God. For as the heart focuses on God, our minds learn how we are to act and respond in this world.
Trust, do good, and take delight in the Lord. These three things. Let God be our Definer. Let our will be saturated by His. Let what we want be shaped wholly by what God wants.
Then… then… then… This is the part that strains our trust in God. THEN. The word "then" is the part we don't believe in. We struggle to accept the fact that if we truly do trust in the Lord and if we truly do good and if we truly delight in the Lord THEN… we will live safely in the land and prosper and God will give us the desire of our heart.
First let me consider the desire of our heart. That's an easy one to understand. For as we delight in the Lord, the desire of our heart becomes what He wants for our lives. Our desire will be what God wants to give us. Our hearts delight in what God desires.
Secondly, let me consider living safely and prospering. Logically I can understand this promise as being given to Israel… that if they were to follow after God then the land of Israel would be theirs forever. But is there more of a meaning to this line? Is there some kind of truth to the idea that if we trust in God and do good THEN God will let us live safely and prosper?
Ah… well… maybe not the way we think of it… but I do believe that trusting in God and doing good gives us the confidence and strength as an individual and especially as a community to stand against what's wrong in this world. So while trouble can still hit me… or you… in some strange way God will enable us to live safely and to prosper as we follow after the Lord. I have to believe that. God is God… and in Him is Life everlasting. Victory over evil and death is His. Does that mean if I live perfectly in His will that I won't suffer loss or pain today? No- this verse doesn't say that. This verse doesn't say that if you are good you will get a big house and live a trouble-free life and be healthy and wealthy. We shouldn't read that into this verse. But if we follow after the Lord, if we do His will and delight in Him, we will receive the desire of our heart… God Himself. And there is no more safe or prosperous way to live. The follower of the Lord stands in the presence of One who is greater than any calamity or evil.