Psalm 37 is full of commands, and yet there is an invitation to enjoy abundant freedom in God.
Fret not! the Psalmist writes three different times – commanding our attention to stop worrying. Fret isn’t the most common used word in our normal daily language – but the definition pegs our tendency to worry anxiously to a tee. To fret is to “feel or express worry, annoyance, discontent; to gnaw at something or wear away”.
When we gnaw on our issues with worry and anxiety, we expend tons of energy – and get nowhere!
This is what it means to fret – literally wasting our energy and efforts on nothing.
So what should we do instead? We should trust (or rely on the strength and surety of God) and we should dwell (or live as permanent residents in a given state) in the land He’s given to us!
God has created a perfect way – a way of righteousness – and there’s no room for our worry or fears in the land because he tells us to “befriend faithfulness”. Other translations of verse 3 mean to literally “feed on faithfulness” or to “find safe pasture”.
When we realize that this world – the land in front of our eyes – is not actually our home because we’ve been invited to a greener pasture, a heavenly dwelling, an eternity with Jesus Himself – this shapes how we spend our days here on earth. We start to see that when evildoers prosper in their ways, it’s nothing to get worried about, because God promises that they will not succeed!
This allows us to let go of our need to be the best, get the most attention, or secure the right approval.
We can live with the understanding that good for them is not bad for me. God is my good!
There’s another beautiful truth in this Psalm that makes my heart rest at ease. David tells us to “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (verse 7) which is so much easier said than done. Waiting with patience is something we resist from our earliest childhood memories, asking in the car, “Are we there yet?!”
To be still literally means to cease striving, to sink deeply and be free from commotion. This feels so hard sometimes when things aren’t going well. How are we supposed to just sit still and wait, God? Shouldn’t we be doing something?
But then we read verses 17 and 24 and it all makes sense. The LORD upholds the righteous one, He holds the hand of His children. To uphold literally means “to keep from sinking, to lift upward, to raise.” I can’t get over the beautiful truth in this promise!
We can sit still and sink into the presence of God, stop striving and hustling and looking side to side, because He is the one who keeps us from sinking! When the world tells us to work faster, do more, try harder – God says, daughter — I’ve got you. I’ll hold you in my hand. Stop looking side to side and instead, look up.
Prayer allows us to see that God is enough. Prayer causes us to be still long enough to rest in the truth that He will never let us go. We trade our worry, fear, and aimless fretting for peace, worship and the security that God is upholding us today and forever. Amen and amen!