What does Psalms 37 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
In the beginning of this psalm David tells his audience not to "fret," which is translated from a Hebrew word referring to burning or heat. In contrast to anxiety, or rage, believers should trust in the Lord, delight themselves in the Lord, commit their way to the Lord, and wait patiently for the Lord. He explains that the prosperity of the wicked lasts only a short time, whereas the Lord's blessing of the righteous lasts forever (Psalm 37:1–11).

David points out that God is fully aware of the situations faced by the righteous. He is also aware of the seemingly unfair prosperity of the wicked. He knows the wicked abuse the poor and needy and violently oppose the righteous. He assures his readers that God always takes care of His people and protects them. His blessing extends not only to the righteous but also to their descendants. David says the righteous person has God's Word in his heart, and therefore he does not stumble through life. The Lord is always near the righteous person and will give him the Promised Land for an inheritance (Psalm 37:12–34).

From the world's perspective, evil people might seem like a tree with wide-spreading branches. Something so large, and so deeply rooted, can be intimidating. However, as David notes, that is merely an illusion compared to the power of God. In his own life, David saw the fate of the rich (1 Samuel 25:39), the strong (1 Samuel 17:48–51), and those in authority (1 Samuel 23:14) who rejected God and godly wisdom. When the once-powerful tree is destroyed, eventually all traces are gone. God promises a future for the righteous, but He will destroy the wicked. David concludes Psalm 37 by describing the Lord as the believers' salvation and refuge in times of trouble. He delivers them from the wicked (Psalm 37:35–40).
Verse Context:
Psalm 37:1–11 encourages David's audience to maintain a proper relationship with God by refusing to wallow in anxiety over their circumstances. Instead, they ought to trust in the Lord, find their joy in the Lord, and commit their future to the Lord. The tone of this passage resembles Proverbs chapter two, which explains the benefits of following godly wisdom. Matthew 5:5 holds a promise that parallels verses 9 and 11 of this psalm.
Psalm 37:12–20 continues David's discussion of the differences between the wicked and the righteous. Although the wicked seem to prosper and violently oppose the righteous, the righteous can trust the Lord to care for them. For those who honor God, whatever little they have is better than the abundance of wicked people. Believers have the Lord and will inherit good, eternal things. The wicked have nothing to look forward to in eternity other than condemnation.
Psalm 37:21–31 points out the blessings of the righteous. David describes not only their blessings but also their character and conduct. The Lord blesses the righteous with the promise of an inheritance, personal guidance, protection, provision, a good posterity, and His presence.
Psalm 37:32–40 describes the actions of the wicked and the judgment they face at the hands of the Lord. It also relates what the righteous person ought to do and what the Lord will do for him. The wicked have a dreadful future, whereas the future of the righteous is one of exaltation, peace, and deliverance.
Chapter Summary:
In this psalm, David contrasts the way God protects and saves His people, contrasted with the ruin which awaits the wicked. Much of this seems to be based on David's own experiences (Psalm 37:25, 35). As with many other passages in Psalms and Proverbs, this passage encourages godly wisdom. Those who reject God and His ways can expect uncertainty on earth and disaster in eternity.
Chapter Context:
Psalm 37 lies in the first division of Psalms and addresses mankind. Its tone resembles that of the book of Proverbs. The psalm dispenses wisdom about the security of the righteous man and the insecurity and fate of the wicked man. Psalms 36 and 39 also describe the insecurity and fate of the wicked. The covenant God made with Israel in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27—30 is the basis for David's assurance that the righteous are secure. The issue of the prosperity of the wicked is also featured in Psalms 49 and 73. David most likely wrote Psalm 37 in his old age.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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