At some point we may have thought about how the wicked can have so much. Why does it seem that those that live in complete disregard for God and His judgments can live in abundance and ease? We read passages that speak to the prosperity of the righteous and the wicked being cut off and wonder, “When will I prosper?” (Psa. 1:3-4). The remedy for this kind of thinking is mentioned three times in Psalm 37. “Do not fret because of evildoers” (Psa. 37:1). “Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way” (Psa. 37:7). “Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing” (Psa. 37:8). Verses 7-11 of this Psalm give us a glimpse into the overall message.
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psa. 37:7a). “Rest” means to be silent and still, to take a time out. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psa. 46:10). We don’t like waiting. We are no longer conditioned to wait. Waiting on the Lord is a big theme in the Old Testament. It is mentioned twice in this psalm (v. 7, 34). A patient waiting and confidence in the Lord is what is being encouraged. If we are not good at waiting, we are worse at being patient in waiting. Paul reminds us, “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom. 8:25). “Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way” (Psa. 37:7b). When someone says, “Don’t worry about it,” we normally respond with, “Oh, I’m glad you said that. I was about to worry there for a second.” In this psalm, our worry is put into context. It is going to be worse for the wicked. We are instructed to “cease from anger” because one result of unbridled worry is anger. How many of you get angry watching the news? Things happen that we have no control over, and we wish it was different. It’s the same for those that see the wicked prosper and worry about it. There is nothing we can do about it. That is God’s work, not ours. “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph 4:26-27). This is again why we are encouraged not to worry. “It leads only to evildoing” (Psa. 37:8b). Often we try to “fix” things, and it makes it worse. Abraham said, “Tell them you’re my sister; they might kill me” (Gen. 12:13). Sarah said, “Have a child with my servant girl. What could possibly go wrong?” (Gen. 16:2).
In this psalm, we can take comfort in the contrast of the wicked and righteous. Evildoers will be cut off and will be no more. The righteous will inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant prosperity. We must learn to rest in the Lord and patiently wait on Him. “Depart from evil and do good, So you will abide forever. For the LORD loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever” (Psa. 37:27-29).