“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act… Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”—Psalm 37:1-5, 7
There are several commands in these verses that, if we were to obey them, we would find many heavy burdens lifted from our hearts. In this Psalm, David was musing on a number of themes, always returning to the basic truth that we can trust God to come to our aid in His own time and in His own way. In short, God comes through for those who trust Him.
“Fret not” in Hebrew literally means, “don’t get heated.” Then the words follow, trust, delight, commit and be still. The bottom line is that we should change our focus from looking at our enemies and our fears to looking at God. We think, for example, of Stephen who, when he was being stoned, gazed into heaven and God graciously gave him a vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God. His last words were “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:54-60). Or we think of Paul and Silas in prison, not focused on their plight, but singing praises and praying at midnight (Acts 16:25). Consider a more contemporary example, that of Dietrich Bonheoffer who, before he was hung, was able to say, “O God this is the end, but for me the beginning of life.”
What all of these stories have in common is this: victorious believers have always been able to turn away from the threats of their enemies and focus their attention on God. As long as God was being praised and worshipped, they were able to withstand the attacks of their enemies—whether they were delivered, tortured, or even killed.
God gives us enemies because we need them. We need them to provoke us to a new level of worship and trust. We can’t make our enemies go away, but we can dismiss them from our minds as we intentionally turn our minds to God, trust Him, and find in Him our delight.
Let us pray for ourselves and others that whether we are being attacked by our enemies, or by Satan himself, our focus would be on the worship of God. God delights when we look up to Him rather than looking around to see the enemies encamped to capture our souls. Let me encourage you to read the entire Psalm as a personal prayer for yourself and others.
Let Us Pray
Father, I pray that You will help me to trust You and find delight in Your presence. Help me to be quiet in Your presence for as much time as is necessary to renew my confidence that You can be believed even when I am confronted by injustice and threats of the wicked.
I pray for _____ who has been dismayed by those who have intentionally hurt them; I pray that they might not “fret” but deliberately turn their attention toward You. Let them know that “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forever more.” Today, become in their lives all that You can be for the glory of your Son, Jesus.
In His name, Amen.