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Bible: What Does Psalms 37-39 Teach Us About Trust in God/The Brevity of Life?

Updated on September 15, 2016

Trust the LORD

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Synonyms of Trust

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Psalms 37-39: God Makes a Difference/Life is Short

Trust the LORD

"Since God will soon destroy the wicked, the righteous should not envy them in their prosperity," writes David (vv. 1-2, 7b; cf. Ps. 73).

Instead, the saint should seek to develop his relationship with the LORD.

Commands to trust (cf. synonyms “commit,” “rest,” and “wait”) and to enjoy God and His blessings predominate (vv. 3-7).

If the righteous man obeys these commands, the LORD will fulfill his heart's desire (v. 4) and vindicate his cause (vv. 5b-6).

Anxiety and anger produce nothing but evil (v. 8).

The writer contrasts the destinies of the wicked and the righteous: death belongs to the former, but abundant blessing to the latter (vv. 9-11; cf. the idea of the meek inheriting the earth in Matt. 5:5).

Intent on killing the righteous, the wicked themselves will perish; God laughs mockingly at their schemes (vv. 12-15).

Using a proverbial formula ("a little . . . is better than . . ."), David asserts the superior position of the poor righteous over the wealthy wicked because of the LORD's power (vv. 16-17).

Along with providing him with eternal security, God sustains the upright with enough food during hard times (vv. 18-19).

The wicked, however, will pass away quickly (v. 20).

Two more contrasts between the two groups also appear; the first deals with their stewardship of finances (v. 21), and the second, their relationship with the LORD (v. 22).

Torah

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God Directs the Life of the Righteous

Next, David imparts wisdom regarding God's working in the life of the righteous.

He points out that God not only directs a good man's life, but He also preserves him from destruction when he falls (vv. 23-24).

Through His mercy, God provides for the needs of the upright (vv. 25-26).

Because He will never leave those who are His, but will give His people the land eternally, they should live righteous lives (vv. 27-29).

Having been Torah-instructed, the righteous one possesses a wise and just tongue, and thus he stands firm (vv. 30-31).

Although enemies threaten the godly man's security, God protects and defends his cause (vv. 32-33).

David relates his own experience as a believer; he has watched the wicked great ones pass away after their time; likewise, the righteous must wait upon the LORD until the wicked in their lives die, and then He will exalt him (vv. 34-36).

Peace to the blameless and death to the wicked remain a certainty (vv. 37-38).

God saves the righteous by means of their faith (vv. 39-40).

[So evident in this psalm are the qualitative differences that God makes in the life of the righteous!]

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Psalm 38

God Will Forgive the Penitent

During a time of divine chastening, David pleads for mercy while claiming extreme weakness (vv. 1-3).


Obviously, he realizes that his sin has caused his present physical pain and emotional distress (vv. 4-5).



After enumerating some of those sufferings (vv. 6-8), the psalmist cries out to his omniscient Lord and continues to explain his wretched condition (vv. 9-10).


In Job-like fashion, David relates both the cruel actions of his relatives and enemies (vv. 11-12), and his unresponsiveness to them (vv. 13-14).


Professing his hope in God, he asks for preservation from shame and defeat (vv. 15-16).

Yet sensing that his demise may be imminent, David confesses his sin (vv. 17-18).

He sees his enemies as many, strong, and opposed to him because of his righteousness (vv. 19-20).

David concludes with a prayer for salvation (vv. 21-22).

[Even when we deserve nothing but trouble, we can call upon God for forgiveness, mercy, and salvation].

Divine Forgiveness

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Life is Short

Psalm 39

Life is Short; Trust the Eternal One

David first recalls his determination to keep silent before the wicked (v. 1), then relates how this restraint brought him sorrow and intense emotional anxiety (vv. 2-3).

Unable to endure the pain any longer, he asks God to teach him how short his life is (vv. 4-5a).

Why? Standing back (metaphorically speaking), David ponders the human condition in general, and concludes that every person’s life is brief and his labor vain (vv. 5b-6; cf. Ps. 90: 9-12; see Ecclesiastes).

Confessing his hope in God, David prays for salvation from the penalty of his sins and for preservation from further chastening, knowing that the pain he has felt originated from the hand of the LORD (vv. 7-11).

He continues to plead that God would extend His mercy to him; he desires to regain his strength and not die from the “gaze” (vv. 12-13).

[Realizing just how short this life is helps us to rely on the One who has always lived].

© 2013 glynch1

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