Psalm 37

The Word Made Fresh

(Of David.)

1Don’t let wicked people bother you,
and don’t be jealous of those who do wrong.
2They will fade away like the grass
and wither like the green plants.
3Trust the LORD. Do good in the land
and live safe and secure.
4Take your delight in the LORD,
and be rewarded with the good things you desire.
5Choose to live with the LORD’s guidance
and trust in the LORD to act on your behalf.
6God will exonerate you publicly
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
7Just be still and wait patiently for the LORD.
Don’t fuss about people who seem to be rewarded
when they do evil things.
8Don’t be angry. Wrath does not become you.
Don’t fret. That only makes things worse.
9Wicked people will receive what they are due,
but the LORD’s people shall inherit the land.
10In just a little while the wicked will be no more.
You’ll look around for them, but they’ll be gone.
11But the meek shall inherit the land
and live there in peace.
12Wicked people scheme to take from good people
and grind their teeth at them.
13But the LORD simply laughs at them
because the LORD knows they will get what they deserve.
14The wicked swing their swords and draw their bowstrings
against those who are poor and needy, because
they want to destroy those who are good.
15But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will snap in two.
16Even if a good person only has very little,
it is better than all the wealth of the wicked.
17The strength of the wicked will be broken
but the LORD will protect those who are righteous.
18The LORD watches over those who are blameless day by day,
and all that they have will be passed down to their children.
19When times are bad they will not be ashamed
because they will have enough to survive when famines come.
20But the wicked will perish.
The enemies of the LORD are like the green grass –
they will vanish away like smoke in the air.
21Wicked people borrow and never repay.
Good people are generous and keep on giving.
22The land will belong to those who are blessed by the LORD,
not by those whom the LORD has disowned.
23Anyone who follows the LORD’s way is secure.
24They may stumble but never fall flat
because the LORD is holding their hands.
25I was young once; now I am old.
But I have never witnessed a single instance
of God forsaking anyone who lives right,
or letting their children beg for bread to eat.
26Good people are always giving or lending freely,
and their children will grow up to be a blessing for others.
27So, turn away from wrongdoing, and do right,
and you will always possess the land.
28The LORD loves justice,
and will never turn away from those who are faithful.
They will be kept safe forever,
but not the children of the wicked.
29Those who live right will inherit the land
and always live in it.
30Those who live right, speak wisely
and always say what is right.
31The law of their God is in their hearts
and their steps never slip.
32The wicked watch for opportunities to harm
those who live according to God’s laws.
33But the LORD will not abandon them to the power of the wicked
or allow them to be punished if they are accused of wrongdoing.
34Wait for the LORD. Follow God’s laws,
and you will be lifted up and will inherit the land
and will see the destruction of the wicked.
35I have seen the wicked oppressing good people,
towering over them like a Lebanese cedar tree.
36But when I passed by later, they weren’t there.
I looked for them, but they were nowhere to be found.
37Pay attention to those who are blameless, who live right,
because there is a future for those who live in peace.
38Sinners, however, will eventually be completely destroyed,
and the children of the wicked will have no inheritance.
39The LORD will save those who live in righteousness,
and be their refuge in times of trouble.
40The LORD will help them and rescue them from the wicked,
and save them because they have relied on the LORD.


Superscription: the 33rd psalm attributed to David.

1-11: In contrast to earlier psalms that beg God for help against the wicked, Psalm 37 exhorts us to simply trust that God will do just that. “Trust the LORD;” “Take your delight in the LORD;” “Choose to live with the LORD’s guidance;” “Trust in the LORD;” “Be still and wait patiently for the LORD.” The wisdom imparted by this psalm is that submission to God’s will and trust in God’s care are necessary precursors to God’s acting on our behalf. “Don’t be angry,” “don’t fret,” for “the LORD’s people shall inherit the land.” Those words should sound familiar because it is almost exactly what Jesus says in the “sermon on the mount” (see Matthew 5:5).

12:15: These verses follow a pattern of action > consequence. “Wicked people scheme” > “the LORD simply laughs.” “The wicked swing their swords” > “But their swords shall pierce their own hearts.”

16-22: These verses draw sharp contrasts between the wicked and the righteous.

23-28a: The psalmist assures us that if we lean on God, God will guide us and protect us. God will not forsake those who are faithful.

28b-29: Another pair of contrasts between the righteous and the wicked.

30-33: Because the righteous follow the Law of God, God will not abandon them.

34-38: Inheritance of the land and the gift of children to carry on the inheritance is the promise of the righteous. Law breakers will inevitably lose their inheritance.

39-40: The psalm is summarized: God rescues us because we take refuge in God.


Psalm 37 was undoubtedly used as curriculum material for young people to show them the benefits of faithfulness. We know, of course, that it’s not that simple; God protects the faithful and thwarts the plans of the wicked, but sometimes faithful people suffer, and wicked people prosper. The reward for those who obey the LORD is in the life that awaits us beyond this one. There are a lot of evil people who are going to discover that they really didn’t “get away” with their godlessness. Their punishment is simply set aside for the life to come.