Yesterday we learned what NOT to do in today’s world, where people are acting crazy: rioting, screaming, crying, destroying the property of others, and tearing others down. We learned to Fret Not. But what should we do instead of fretting over a situation? The Lord wants us to look to Him. We are continuing to share the series from Nancy Leigh DeMoss on living out Psalm 37. This second is in the series is entitled, “Filling Your Mind with God’s Word”.
We’re looking at the first eleven verses of Psalm 37 over these few sessions. I want to encourage you to be reading these verses. They’ve been a huge blessing in my life. I find myself going back to these verses over and over again, particularly when confronted with things in this world that are disturbing. And there’s a lot in this world that is disturbing. You can’t live with other human beings and not be confronted with evil—in our own hearts, but also in the lives of others.
Our natural tendency when we’re confronted with wrongdoing in others is to fret. As we saw in the last session, that means “to get heated, to get angry, to get hot under the collar, to get hot and bothered, to have our peace disturbed.” We’re seeing in this passage that the Scripture says the one thing we’re not to do is what we’re most prone to do—we’re not to fret. Three times we’re told that: verse 1, verse 7, and verse 8. Don’t fret. Don’t let it get under your skin. Don’t fret.
As we look at these verses, we’re going to see today that there are some things we are supposed to do in the face of evildoers. We’re supposed to stay cool. The question is: How do we stay cool? You say, “It gets to me. That person’s behavior—that person who works in the next cubical who is so annoying; that person who lives in my home who has such an annoying habit, or is making such foolish or wrong choices. How can I stay cool?”
Let me just summarize these next verses by saying that the cure for fretting and for anger is to look up. Look up where? Look up to God. Redirect your response toward God instead of toward evildoers. What causes us to fret, to get angry, is that we’re so focused on the people around us and what they are doing wrong. Your focus is in the wrong place. Redirect your response; redirect your focus. Choose to look up instead of out toward evildoers. Orient your life around the Lord. Tether your heart to Him. Tether your emotions to Him.
We’re going to see five exhortations in Psalm 37 that tell us how to look up. Let me show them to you in order, and then we’ll go through them one at a time.
The first one we find in verse 3: “Trust in the LORD.”
Then verse 4: “Delight yourself in the LORD.”
Verse 5: “Commit your way to the LORD.”
Verse 7: “Be still before the LORD” or, as some of your translations say, “Rest in the LORD” (KJV).
Then also in verse 7: “Wait patiently for him”—wait for the Lord. You’ll see that one three times in this psalm: in verse 7 and then in verses 9 and 34.
Trust in the Lord; delight yourself in the Lord; commit your way to the Lord; be still before the Lord—or rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for the Lord. What’s the common denominator in each of those five exhortations? In the Lord. Orient your life around Him. Where’s the evildoer in that? You’re not even looking at him; you’re looking at the Lord. You’re focused on the Lord. You’re tethering your heart to the Lord so that your emotions don’t rise or fall based on what the evildoer is doing.
Now, let’s take those one at a time.
Number one: “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (v. 3). Trust in the Lord. Faith is the starting point for any relationship with God. You can’t have a relationship with Him if you’re not exercising faith: “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6, NKJV).
You have to trust that there is a God in this circumstance and that the evildoer is not the ultimate end of things. There is a God, that God is sovereign, that God rules over all, and that God is over all evildoers. You have to trust that God is wise, that He knows everything.
You have to trust that He is good, that God is working out His purposes in this world, that He has a plan, and that God’s plan has not been thwarted by this evildoer, this person who is making your life or this world difficult. You have to trust that God knows your situation, that He’s not blind to it, that He has not abandoned you, and that God cares for you.
So as you see what this evildoer is doing—this person has a temper, or is being immoral, or is making unethical or foolish choices, and it’s making your life difficult—you say, “My husband is spinning our family into financial debt,” or “My boss is taking this business down and making my life miserable.” But don’t focus on the evildoer.
I’m not saying that the evildoer doesn’t exist, but God is still God, and God is okay—He’s more than okay. He’s there; He is in charge; He cares. So trust in the Lord. Trust in Him. Put your focus on Him.
This faith we’re supposed to have is not a passive faith, like, “I’ll just pretend that nothing is wrong.” It’s an active faith, and active faith always produces fruit. Trust in the Lord and do good—do the right thing.
Don’t let the other person’s evil make you do evil. The fact that they’re losing their temper, and they’re cursing, and they’re being profane or vile or mouthy, or they’re being sinful in their behavior or demeanor, doesn’t mean you have to let them make you sin. Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Do good.
Faith always expresses itself in right actions. If you’re trusting in the Lord, then you’re not going to act like a fool when you’re dealing with a fool who is making life difficult. Do good to all men, including those who do evil.
Throughout Psalm 37, you see the contrast between the righteous and the wicked, the ungodly and the godly. You see this contrast between two different kinds of people. The true believer, the righteous person, the person who has been made righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ by faith in Christ—that true believer will have a life that stands in stark contrast to the unbeliever. The unbeliever, the wrongdoer—he does evil. That’s because his heart is evil. His bent is evil.
So don’t be surprised when sinners act like sinners. What should surprise us is when Christians act like sinners. We’re the ones who are supposed to be doing good because we have a new heart, a new nature. We have the capacity to do good because Christ lives within us. He has made us new creatures. We don’t have to do evil in responding to evil. We can do good. We can do the right thing because Christ lives in us.
So “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” Dwell in the land. Remain there. Settle down in the place where God has put you, and don’t always be running around looking for greener pastures. So many of us spend so much of our lives trying to escape difficult circumstances, and God says, “Don’t try to get out. Stay there.” Dwell in the land where God has put you.
Now, this truth would have to be balanced with other principles in Scripture that would say that sometimes it is appropriate to remove yourself from the presence of evil. But if God has put you in a situation, then stay there until God moves you out. Stay there until God makes it clear it is time for you to leave. Dwell in the land; remain there. Don’t always be looking for ways to escape.
People change jobs, they change churches, they change marriages, and what they do is they just find themselves with more evildoers. Wherever you go, you’re going to find it. So God says to dwell there—settle down, dwell in the land—and then there’s that phrase “befriend faithfulness.” The New American Standard says, “Cultivate faithfulness,” and I like the New King James here; it says, “Feed on His faithfulness.”
Dwell in the land. How do you keep from starving in this sinful land? You feed on God’s faithfulness. You let His faithfulness satisfy you. Remain where you are, and be satisfied with the thought of God’s faithfulness. Trust in the Lord and do good.
Number two, and we find this one in verse 4: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Delight yourself in the Lord. Strong says that word delight means “to be happy about, to take exquisite delight.” Delight yourself in the Lord.
Keep in mind the context here. We’re dealing with evildoers; we’re dealing with wrongdoers. We’re dealing with a situation where our tendency is to fret, to be overheated, to be angry, to be exercised. In that situation, he says, “Delight yourself in the Lord.”
Let Him be your prize. He is the pearl of great price. Let Him be your cherished possession, your pursuit, that which you seek after. Treasure Christ. Treasure Him. Say, “Lord, in spite of what’s going on around me, in spite of how foolish these people are in my life, in spite of the difficulty they are causing me, I’m lifting my eyes up. I’m looking at You, and You are awesome. You are wonderful.” Feast on Him.
I’ve been memorizing and meditating in the book of Revelation in recent months, and I love chapter 1—that incredible, awesome picture of the resurrected Christ. Feast on it. Feast on Him. He is on His throne. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah; He is the Lamb of God. His eyes are like a flame of fire. It talks about how beautiful He is, how powerful He is, and how majestic He is. He loves us; He has freed us from our sins by His blood. Feast your eyes and your heart on Him. Take delight in Him. Get your eyes off other people, and delight yourself in the Lord.
The problem is we spend so much time mulling over what evildoers are doing, that’s where our focus is. That’s all we can think about, and that’s what makes us angry. That’s what gets us hot and bothered. That’s what gets us overheated. As you’re going to bed at night, instead of mulling over what that person did to you that day that hurt you—making a big deal about it—get your thoughts off that by consciously, intentionally putting your thoughts on the Lord. That’s where Scripture memory, by the way, is so helpful: meditating on the Lord.
I love to go to bed at night and to wake up in the morning—or even during the night as I wake—with Scripture in my mind. I’ll tell you the times when I don’t: when I get my thoughts instead on the things that disturbed me during the day. Those things become so big. It’s just as if I forget God is there, and I find myself getting overheated instead of delighting in the Lord.
He says if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. What does that mean? If we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us Himself, because He will be all that we really want. He will be what we desire, what we long for, what we prize, what we live for. We can’t lose. It’s like this lifts you to a plane where you can live above the fray, live above the evildoers, by delighting yourself in the Lord.
Trust in the Lord, delight yourself in the Lord, and then for number three, look at verse 5: “Commit your way to the LORD.” That phrase “commit your way” means “to roll your way over onto God, to transfer it to Him.” One writer says it means “to dislodge the burden from your shoulders and lay it on God.” “Lord, this is not mine to carry; this is Yours to carry.”
Commit your way. “Lord, You see my way. You know what I’m dealing with. You know this difficult person; You know this difficult circumstance.”
We deal with it at Revive Our Hearts. We take a stand on something. We try to do it as winsomely, as lovingly and graciously as we can, but sometimes we’ll get emails saying, “I’m really upset with you.” We’ve had some of those over the last couple of days, saying, “I can’t believe you said this. I can’t believe you were so unloving as to say this.” If your conscience is clear, what do you do? You commit your way to the Lord. You say, “Lord, this email is for You. You handle this. I’m rolling it onto You.”
I think the apostle Peter was probably thinking of this verse when he said in 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 7, “Casting all your anxieties on the him, because he cares for you.” There’s no point in my staying up all night worrying about this, or stewing about it, or getting all uptight about it. God cares for me. Let God handle it.
Yield yourself completely to Him. Commit your reputation to Him: “Lord, what they’re saying—and people are believing what they’re saying, and other people think it’s true.” Don’t defend yourself. Don’t protect your own reputation. Commit your way to the Lord. Commit your path to the Lord. Commit your situation to the Lord. Commit your circumstances to the Lord. Roll it all on Him, and when you do, that means you will not be groaning under the load.
This is how you get free from anger. This is how you get free from fretting. You trust in the Lord, you delight in the Lord, and you commit your way to the Lord. You roll your way onto the Lord. It says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him”—there that is again—“and he will act.” Let God act. He will do whatever needs to be done in the situation.
I think one of the reasons we’re so prone to fret, to get overheated, and to get angry is because we feel like God is not acting, like God’s not doing anything. As women, we cannot bear to stand by and watch nothing happen. It’s like, “Somebody has got to step in. Somebody has got to do something, and if nobody else will, I will.” We start to bear all the weight of the world on our own shoulders.
Ladies, it’s not ours to fix. One commentator said, “He will accomplish all that your faith has laid upon Him.” Lay it on Him, and then let God act.
Now, you have to let God act in His way and in His time. One of our problems is that we get frustrated when God doesn’t act in the way we think He should act, when God doesn’t fix something at the time we think He should fix something. But keep in mind, God has more in mind than just fixing your problems. God’s wanting to change you; God’s wanting to change that person; God’s wanting to display His glory in this world. And sometimes God gets greater glory by letting that problem stay in your life than by removing that problem from your life.
So you have to say, “Is my ultimate goal to get this situation changed, or is my goal for God to be glorified? Am I willing to stay in this situation if that’s what pleases the Lord for His glory? Then I am willing to do that.”
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” He will act—in His time and in His way. He may not solve it in the next 28 minutes, like it happens on TV programs. He may not solve it in a way that is the way you would have scripted it. But praise God that He’s writing the script—that He doesn’t act in the way I think He should act, because I’m so short-sighted. I don’t know the whole picture. God has the whole picture in mind. He knows what’s really needed. Trust in Him, and He will act.
Sometimes I wonder what God would do in our circumstances and our situations of life if we would really trust Him, if we would commit our way to Him, and if we would let Him do it. I think God wants to do miracles in some of our lives—maybe in your finances, maybe in that unbelieving mate, maybe in that rebellious son or daughter, maybe in that impossible boss, maybe in that impossible church situation. God wants to do something truly amazing and God-sized.
I picture sometimes that God is sitting up in heaven going, “You want to handle this? Go ahead.” I wonder if sometimes God doesn’t put Himself in a state of inactivity—kind of—because we’re so intentional in acting ourselves.
“Go ahead; you do it. You want to be god?”
“Well, no, Lord. I can’t.”
“I was just waiting for you to say that. You want Me to act?”
“Yes, Lord, I need You to act.”
“Okay, commit your way to Me. Trust in Me, and I will act.”
God will act. What does God want to do in your world that maybe He’s not doing because you’re acting, because you’re taking matters into your own hands? Trust in Him, and He will act.
We’ve got to look at verse 6: “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” That’s one thing God will do. He will shine light on the situation; He will make everything clear as the light of day. He will vindicate the righteous.
Everyone will see the truth. If you’re the innocent party but no one else knows it or believes it, commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him. Leave it to Him to vindicate your innocence. Don’t defend yourself. Don’t try to prove your point. “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” He will make all things clear. Everyone in time will see who was right.
So what do you do? There are two left in the list. We’ll get to those in the next session, but look at these first three: Trust in the Lord and do good. Delight yourself in the Lord. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.
O Lord, I pray that You would cause our hearts to be tethered to You, that we would orient our lives around You rather than around evildoers or wrongdoers. I pray that instead of focusing on the evil in the world and the evil that plagues us and perturbs us—rather than fretting or becoming anxious or angry, Lord, may we have peace in our hearts, quietness, settledness of heart, and joy in the journey as we delight ourselves in You, as we trust in You, as we commit our ways to You. Thank You, Lord, that You are God and You are good. Even in this moment, though there may be things pulling at us, things wanting to steal our peace and our joy, we just want to say intentionally, “We choose to trust in You, O Lord.” In Jesus’ name, amen.