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Psalm 37[a]

The Fate of Sinners and the Reward of the Just

Of David.


Do not be provoked by evildoers;
    do not envy those who do wrong.(A)
Like grass they wither quickly;
    like green plants they wilt away.(B)


Trust in the Lord and do good
    that you may dwell in the land[b] and live secure.(C)
Find your delight in the Lord
    who will give you your heart’s desire.(D)


Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will act(E)
And make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
    your justice like noonday.(F)


Be still before the Lord;
    wait for him.
Do not be provoked by the prosperous,
    nor by malicious schemers.


Refrain from anger; abandon wrath;
    do not be provoked; it brings only harm.
Those who do evil will be cut off,
    but those who wait for the Lord will inherit the earth.(G)


10 Wait a little, and the wicked will be no more;
    look for them and they will not be there.
11 But the poor will inherit the earth,(H)
    will delight in great prosperity.


12 The wicked plot against the righteous
    and gnash their teeth at them;
13 But my Lord laughs at them,(I)
    because he sees that their day is coming.


14 The wicked unsheath their swords;
    they string their bows
To fell the poor and oppressed,
    to slaughter those whose way is upright.(J)
15 Their swords will pierce their own hearts;
    their bows will be broken.


16 Better the meagerness of the righteous one
    than the plenty of the wicked.(K)
17 The arms of the wicked will be broken,
    while the Lord will sustain the righteous.


18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless;
    their heritage lasts forever.
19 They will not be ashamed when times are bad;
    in days of famine they will be satisfied.


20 The wicked perish,
    enemies of the Lord;
They shall be consumed like fattened lambs;
    like smoke they disappear.(L)


21 The wicked one borrows but does not repay;
    the righteous one is generous and gives.
22 For those blessed by the Lord will inherit the earth,
    but those accursed will be cut off.


23 The valiant one whose steps are guided by the Lord,
    who will delight in his way,(M)
24 May stumble, but he will never fall,
    for the Lord holds his hand.


25 Neither in my youth, nor now in old age
    have I seen the righteous one abandoned(N)
    or his offspring begging for bread.
26 All day long he is gracious and lends,
    and his offspring become a blessing.


27 Turn from evil and do good,
    that you may be settled forever.(O)
28 For the Lord loves justice
    and does not abandon the faithful.


When the unjust are destroyed,
    and the offspring of the wicked cut off,
29 The righteous will inherit the earth
    and dwell in it forever.(P)


30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom;(Q)
    his tongue speaks what is right.
31 God’s teaching is in his heart;(R)
    his steps do not falter.


32 The wicked spies on the righteous
    and seeks to kill him.
33 But the Lord does not abandon him in his power,
    nor let him be condemned when tried.


34 Wait eagerly for the Lord,
    and keep his way;(S)
He will raise you up to inherit the earth;
    you will see when the wicked are cut off.


35 I have seen a ruthless scoundrel,
    spreading out like a green cedar.(T)
36 When I passed by again, he was gone;
    though I searched, he could not be found.


37 Observe the person of integrity and mark the upright;
    Because there is a future for a man of peace.(U)
38 Sinners will be destroyed together;
    the future of the wicked will be cut off.


39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord,
    their refuge in a time of distress.(V)
40 The Lord helps and rescues them,
    rescues and saves them from the wicked,
    because they take refuge in him.


  1. Psalm 37 The Psalm responds to the problem of evil, which the Old Testament often expresses as a question: why do the wicked prosper and the good suffer? The Psalm answers that the situation is only temporary. God will reverse things, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked here on earth. The perspective is concrete and earthbound: people’s very actions place them among the ranks of the good or wicked. Each group or “way” has its own inherent dynamism—eventual frustration for the wicked, eventual reward for the just. The Psalm is an acrostic, i.e., each section begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each section has its own imagery and logic.
  2. 37:3 The land: the promised land, Israel, which became for later interpreters a type or figure of heaven, cf. Hb 11:9–10, 13–16. The New Testament Beatitudes (Mt 5:3–12; Lk 6:20–26) have been influenced by the Psalm, especially their total reversal of the present and their interpretation of the happy future as possession of the land.