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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Psalms 37

Verses 1-40

We have seen many times how one Psalm links with another. Look at the 12th verse of the thirty-sixth Psalm and then look at the first verse of Psalms 37:0. Psalms 37:0 is God’s answer to His people’s cry. In these two Psalms wepb 217 have had His people crying out to Him, and in the last verse of Psalms 36:0 we read, “There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.” Now look at the first verse of Psalms 37:0, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.” The very same term that is used in the last verse of the previous Psalm is used in the first verse of the next Psalm. The troubled saint says, “Lord, I believe You are going to handle these workers of iniquity”; and then the Lord answers, “Don’t you fret; you have turned it over to Me; I will take charge of you and will deal with them.”

I wish we could depict this thirty-seventh Psalm as it is in the Hebrew. It is an alphabetical Psalm. Many people know that we have one marvelous alphabetical Psalm, the 119th. There are twenty-two sections, and every verse in each section begins with the same letter. In the twenty-two sections you have all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet; every verse, for instance, of the first section begins with Aleph which answers to our “A.” We can easily see that because we get the names of the letters in the headings. The thirty-seventh Psalm is also an alphabetical Psalm, but here it is about every fourth line that begins with a different letter, and this runs through the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. We will just take some of the outstanding features.

We have the Spirit’s answer to the troubled soul, and so first in verses 1 to 11 we have blessing promised to the righteous. They are not to fret. God will deal with them. Verse 3 says, “Trust in the Lord, and do good”-that is your part. “So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of him who pros-pereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” Notice the definite command, “Trust in the Lord…delight thyself in the Lord…Commit thy way unto the Lord…Rest in the Lord…fret not thyself.” You have often seen the little motto, “If you worry you do not trust; if you trust you do not worry.” Somebody has written a beautiful little monograph entitled, “Why Worry When You Can Pray?”

The average person would rather worry than pray. It is our own fault that we worry so much, for it is because we do not pray more. If we would hand it over to Him, commit our way unto the Lord, it would be so different. But now again, “Trust in the Lord.” My attitude of heart must be right. “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil,” and it will not be long before the wicked will disappear: God will deal with them. All the heaven they are ever going to know they get in this world, and all the trouble God’s saints will know they are getting here. When you leave this scene the trouble will be left behind. Why not just thank Him and praise Him for all His delivering grace?

“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” When the day comes that God shall manifest His loving favor to the righteous and they have entered at last into their reward, what about the wicked? Look at verses 12 to 15, “The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him: for He seeth that his day is coming. 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. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.” It is another way of saying, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

In verses 16 to 20 you have the portion of the righteous, and you know God can take a very little that His dear people have and make it an abundance for them. “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.” As long as you have a good conscience toward God and realize you are walking so as to please Him you can be happy, even though you are bereft of everything the worldling thinks he must have. Poor unsaved men have nothing but judgment ahead of them; but the children of the Lord have nothing but glory. “The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. 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.”

In verses 21 to 29 you have the character of the righteous and the wicked again contrasted. Now let us see if we are not getting down to some rather serious things. What characterizes wicked people? Oh, you may say, cheating or lying or living immorally or getting drunk. Yes, but look at verse 21, “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.” I am afraid there are a lot of people that God calls wicked that we have not been thinking of as wicked. There is something very practical here. God looks for practical righteousness between men and women, and dishonesty is characteristic of the wicked. Then look at the next verse, “For such as be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of Him shall be cut off.”

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighteth in his way.” Somebody once picked up George Mueller’s Bible and happened to be thumbing it over and came to this Psalm and noticed he had written something in the margin of verse 23. He found this, “The steps”-and in the margin he had written, and the stops-“of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” Mr. Mueller had been meditating on it, and the thought came that it is not only the steps but also the stops that are ordered by the Lord. Sometimes you do not do any stepping; sometimes the Lord puts you on your back and says, “Now you glorify Me here.” We can rest in the will of the Lord under all circumstances. “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.”

And now David gives a lovely testimony. I know that temporal blessing was the promise of the Old Testament, and spiritual blessing is the promise of the New Testament; and very often the most devoted saints in this New Testament dispensation are left with very little of temporal blessing. On the other hand I am sure that where people learn to commit everything to God and walk in righteousness before Him, He is going to undertake for them. And so David’s testimony is not without value to us. “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Somebody may say, “Well, I do not like that because it makes me feel very bad. I have been in very difficult circumstances, and I have actually had to go and ask for help. I do not like to be put in the category of the wicked.” This is not the case, for in our dispensation we do not have the same promise of temporal prosperity. But many of us fail to appropriate the privileges that are really ours in this age of grace. “Be [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). I believe that Christians would never have to beg for bread if they talked more to God. If we learned to depend on the living God and to go to Him, we would be amazed to find how He can undertake for us. God is the living God, and He will undertake if you will only trust Him. Is it not strange that we seem to be able to trust men more than we can trust Him? And yet we often get so disappointed in people, but we are never disappointed in Him if walking with Him. So David says, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

In verses 30 to 40 you have divine government In verse 34 we read, “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.” But the wicked seem to prosper in a way we do not Yes, David says, they do: “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.”

Now look at the contrast, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” And so he closes the Psalm with these words, “The Lord shall help them, and deliver them: He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.”

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Psalms 37". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.