Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Psalm 37 - The Righteous One quieting our heart by teaching us to discern between the godly and the wicked.

There are seven alphabetic Psalms and this is one of them. A song of Zion in which precious truths are stored up in the memory with the aid of the alphabetic beginnings of each verse. But, as usual, there occurs one irregularity, to prevent us, perhaps, attaching too great importance to the form of structure.

The two-edged sword gleams bright here; justice and mercy ride together over the field of earth. It is a song suitable for the Church and the Church's Head alike, and for every age of the Church's history.

Yet, how exactly some verses suit special scenes. Thus, v31,32, is a full length portrait of the Just One - word, thought, deed; while Antichrist might be said to have sat for his picture in v35,36. "I saw the wicked." etc.

Our Lord seems to quote this Psalm in Matt 5:2; "Blessed are the meek - they shall inherit the earth." And in this Psalm "the little while" is spoken of, that "little while" of the Church's patient waiting, now so well known to us:
"Yet a little while and the wicked shall not be."
"And the meek shall inherit the earth" (v10,11)

Verses 37-38 describe the final reward, "the End" of the perfect man, and the final doom, "the end" of transgressors on the Great Day, when He comes who has "His reward with him." And so it closes with ascribing all victory to the Lord alone. (v39-40).

The title simply is "of David" and this much we may remark regarding the penman's style in it, that in very many portions his own history supplied striking exemplifications of his doctrinal statements.

In verses 1-6 we have the Lord's treatment of His own. He lets them be tested and tried, while the wicked prosper. David's adversity in the day of Saul's authority, and Nabal's history, might be referred to as illustrating these verses.

"Dwell in the land" may send us to Genesis 26:34, or to 1 Sam 32:1,2, by contrast. Notice how it is faith and hope together that are recommended in v5,6, and remark that judgement may well be rendered "the decision of your cause in favour of the right" just as in Isaiah 42:3,4; John 12:31 and 16:11, it signifies the decision of the controversy pending between God and us, against the great Accuser.

In v7-15, we have The Lord's treatment of his foes. Instead of complaining of our burdens and anxieties and cares and fears, and instead of throwing them off in stoical indifference, let us "roll them on the Lord" (v5), entrusting ourselves to him, and then "wait - be silent" as the people, standing at the Red Sea, til God opens the way.

The meek are those who bow to God's will; they shall as surely inherit the earth as ever Israel entered into possession of Canaan. This is a promise repeated in verses 11,22,29,34, as if to reiterate, "that though you have little of earth and earth's good things now, all shall yet be yours, and the ungodly be gone forever."

From v16-22, we have God's blessing on the substance of the godly, and his curses on what belongs to the wicked. This is seen in the godly enjoying sufficiency at all times, and in their being able (v21) to give to others also; whereas the ungodly are blighted, reduced (v21) as to be found borrowing and unable to repay. All this is a foretaste of the future day described in Matt 25:34,41, and to which reference is made in these words:
"For the Lord's blessed ones shall inherit the earth,
And his cursed ones shall be cut off."

In v23-26, we have contrasts that even now distinguish the lot of these two classes of men. The godly are directed; lifted up when calamity has overtaken them (v24), never forsaken (v25).
"I have never seen the righteous forsaken (of God),
Nor (have I seen) his seed (forsaken) even when in greatest poverty."

No, so far from this, the righteous are enabled to show kindness to others (v26), and leaves blessing to his seed. "For (says one) so far is charity from impoverishing, that what is given away, like vapours emitted by the earth, returns in showers of blessing."

From v27-33, we have an implied invitation to join the godly, whom the Lord so cares for, in cherishing all that is holy. Things are said which in their full sense are realised only in the person of The Righteous One.

In v34-40, we arrive at the final effect of things. Wait - that "wicked one" who is so terrible shall soon disappear - that Saul, that foe of yours, that Antichrist, the Church's foe! And fail not to mark the perfect, "for to the perfect there is a conclusion." This is what Balaam says in Numbers 24:10, the end in the latter day, the resurrection time.

Now let us revert to several expressions, in which we find marked likeness to our Lord's mode of speaking when on earth. We noticed at v22, the resemblance to Matt 25:34,41, the blessed and the cursed, but no less remarkable is the five times repeated "inherit the earth" for our Lord quotes it in Matt 5:5, when promising still future blessing.

Add to these the "little while" of v10, as used by the Lord in John 16:16-19, and also "the end" as parallel to our Lord's "end of the age" in Matt 13:19. With all these expressions before us, may we not say that the Master himself is the chief speaker of this Psalm? It is as properly the lips of David's Son that utter it, as it is the pen of David that writes it. And this is the theme of it - The Righteous One quieting our heart by teaching us to discern between the godly and the wicked.

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