Psalm 37: The Path of the Righteous
At some point in the life of most any disciple, there may be doubts about the
value of a godly life when compared to those who have no such interests.
Within this psalm, David gives a promise to those who seek righteousness that
the Lord will be with them in their life and points us to the life of the
righteous: ”Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of
that man is peace” (v. 37). David's admonition? Watch the one who is upright
and see his end instead.
Today, let us look at Psalm 37 and what the psalmist has given us to lead us
in The Path Of The Righteous. Let us see what he says about the righteous and
his relationship to the Lord, the life he lives, and how the both the wicked
and the Lord will react. Let us not just see how we should live, but who we
should be and what we may expect.
The Righteous and His Relationship to the Lord.
This man is righteous not of his own determination, but by God, and he
is so called because of who he is and how he lives. He is a man who, first of
all, trusts in the Lord (vs. 3, 5). He has no faith in the promises of man,
for man will lie; the Lord will not - cannot! The righteous man is also one
who actually and truly delights in the Lord (v. 4). Because he loves
righteousness, he seeks after that which is fully and truly right and, in his
search, finds that only in the Lord can this found, so it is natural that he
would delight in anything related to Him. In the words of the psalmist, ”I
delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psa.
Because the Lord is one that can be trusted fully and one in whom he can find
true and unfailing joy, he is willing to commit himself to the Lord, too (v.
5). He knows there is none other on whom he can depend, and in the Lord he may
fully trust that He will be there for rest and assurance, so he also rests in
the Lord (v. 7). It comes as no surprise, then, to find that this man is one
who has the law of God in his heart (v. 31), for he knows there is no
righteousness of God but through the word.
The Life of the Righteous. God calls no
man ”righteous” without reason, and we find, then, that it is the life of this
man that defines him. He is one who is willing to ”do good” (vv. 3, 27)
because, by the very term righteous, we would expect nothing less.
Righteousness is not only being good but also doing good and part of that
”good” that he does is showing mercy to others and sharing (v. 21). This,
again, is to be expected of the righteous man for mercy is a foundational part
of the life of the righteous. If we are to be as our Lord, we must show mercy.
With his desire for righteousness, it is not surprising to find that this man
is one who speaks of wisdom and justice (v. 30); justice is, in fact,
synonymous with righteousness.
Part of being able to be called truly righteous may also be based on what we
do not do. That being true, we find that the righteous man, as described here,
is one who does not allow the state of the wicked to bother him; he doesn't
envy him (v. 1), he doesn't get angry or worry about it when it seems the
wicked are prospering and he is not (v. 8), and he isn't bothered by his
riches (v. 16). Because his heart is set on righteousness, he departs from
evil (v. 27) with the understanding he cannot go back into the life of fleshly
indulgences and pleasures and remain faithful to the Lord. He also understands
that he cannot harbor anger and wrath (v. 8), which are the marks of a man
without control, and not of a righteous man. The wise writer warned, “Make no
friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn
his ways and set a snare for your soul.” (Prov. 22:24, 25) There is danger is
even making friends with one
who cannot control their anger; that being so, what of the one who cannot
himself control his anger?
Reactions to the Righteous Life.
As we might expect, not everyone will be pleased when they see a man
living righteously, if for only the fact his life illustrates the wickedness
of their own. Some might even seek to eliminate the one who is now making them
look bad (vv. 12, 32)! As long as someone is willing to stand for
righteousness, there will be some who oppose him, with some willing to take
the life of the righteous that his own deeds might not look so bad.
On the other hand, the Lord is pleased with his life, offering protection for
the one who is being persecuted for righteousness' sake (v. 33). When we
commit our ways to the Lord as this man did, the Lord will grant us our
heart's desire, too (v. 4) - eternal life in heaven! This is a qualified
promise, as they all are. “If” we delight in the Lord, He will give us our
heart's desire. God's promise to the righteous and those who trust in Him is
that they will be exalted in the sight of all (v. 6, 34). It may not be on
this earth, but it will come to pass.
Here, the promise to the righteous is that he will gain an inheritance in the
land (vv. 9, 11, 22, 29, 34); for those of that day, they could rest assured
that it was a literal land promise, but for us, it is an eternal inheritance
that does not fade away (1st Pet. 1:4). Likewise, the righteous one of that
day was promised salvation and deliverance from the wicked (vs. 39, 40); for
us, it is
ultimate salvation from our sins and deliverance from all evil.
By Steven C. Harper
From Expository Files 18.10; October 2011