I was working on my Sheila Walsh Bible study again, The Shelter of God's Promises, and she directed the reader to Psalms 37.
What I love about God's Word is that you can read a verse or passage one time and it's nice. Then you stumble across it again, and suddenly, the words leap off the page and whap you upside the head.
There is no comparison to the Bible because it is the LIVING Word of God and it testifies with the Holy Spirit that resides in us. Get the two together and that is something that never fails to amaze me.
Well, when I read Psalms 37 the passage seemed to come alive in a way I'd never seen before. And I've spent a lot of time in Psalms over the years.
I want to look at the first five verses because those are the ones that really encouraged me the most.
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him and He will do it
The first thing that stood out to me was what I am NOT supposed to do - that is fret or be envious. We are not to fret. The word fret is a little misleading here though. When I think of fret, I think of a grandma-type person wringing her hands. This word actually means to burn or become hot - in other words don't become angry because of evildoers. The other thing we need to avoid is being envious or jealous of wrongdoers.
I know that sounds a little strange - who envies someone who does wrong stuff? But have you ever been around a person who breaks all the rules and treats people terribly, yet everything seems to go smoothly for them? Yeah me too! It can be exasperating, and we can find ourselves envying the ease with which they appear to go through life. However, God tells us that they will wither and fade eventually. Their apparent good fortune on this earth won't amount to much in the next if they are not a believer.
Then this psalm gives us a series of commands: trust, do good, dwell, cultivate, delight, commit and trust. Seven little commands that spoke to me in a big way.
I've been feeling a bit stuck lately - living in limbo land waiting on some answers from God that seem very slow in coming. Have you ever been there - when the wait seems to stretch on endlessly? If I wait on anything or anyone but God, that wait becomes wearying and tiresome.
BUT, if I do these seven things, I'll be waiting on the Lord instead. That's when when the wait becomes a blessing instead of a burden.
You'll notice that this set of commands is book-ended by the word "trust." What does it mean to trust? In this case, the literal meaning is to have confidence in. That makes me stop and wonder - what is MY confidence in? Is it in my own abilities and wisdom or is it in God?
The second command is to do good or accomplish good. When we are waiting, that doesn't always mean we are passive and inactive. We are to be accomplishing good (as opposed to being angry or jealous!).
The third command is to dwell in the land. That means to abide or settle down in the land or the place you happen to be in. For me, I often feel myself straining against abiding and settling in - I want to DO something and GO somewhere. Instead, God is asking me to dwell or abide right where I am at - where He has placed me.
The fourth command is to cultivate faithfulness. The word cultivate means to tend. As someone who gardens, I get this picture in my head of coaxing small green shoots to grow and flourish. Those baby plants or delicate flowers probably wouldn't survive without my care. Faithfulness or steadfastness needs that same kind of care or it will wither. It's not something that just happens. I have to purposefully cultivate it in my life.
The fifth command is to delight in the Lord. Once you are trusting Him and doing good and settling down where He has placed you and cultivating faithfulness, delighting in God comes pretty naturally. This word actually means to be soft or delicate with someone. What an interesting picture that we are to be soft with God. We aren't to let bitterness or self-protection form a crust over our hearts. Instead, we are to remain soft and pliable so He can continue to work with us, molding us into His creation.
It isn't until we are doing these five things that God can give us the desires of our hearts because until then, our hearts desire what isn't good for us. It only seems good to our all too human eyes.
The sixth command is the to commit my ways to God. That's much easier when I am soft and not hard. This word means to roll together, and way means journey. I am to roll together my journey with God's.
I don't know if you've ever done any baking, but when you roll ingredients into the batter, it makes something that is better and different, yet still essentially batter. When we roll our journey into God's, we become better. I am still me, yet "I'm a new creature and old things have passed away and I'm new."
Only God can keep you uniquely you, and yet perfect, mold and sanctify you at the same time into someone that brings glory to God, someone who God sees as blameless.
That makes delighting in God pretty much a no-brainer!
~ Blessings, Bronte