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A Song of Wisdom

Poetic praise by King David[a]

37 Don’t follow after the wicked ones or be jealous of their wealth.
    Don’t think for a moment they’re better off than you.
They and their short-lived success
    will soon shrivel up and quickly fade away,
    like grass clippings in the hot sun.
Keep trusting in the Lord and do what is right in his eyes.
    Fix your heart on the promises of God, and you will dwell in the land,
    feasting on his faithfulness.
Find your delight[b] and true pleasure in Yahweh,
    and he will give you what you desire the most.
Give[c] God the right to direct your life,
    and as you trust him along the way,
    you’ll find he pulled it off perfectly!
He will appear[d] as your righteousness,
    as sure as the dawning of a new day.
    He will manifest as your justice,
    as sure and strong as the noonday sun.
Quiet your heart in his presence
    and wait[e] patiently for Yahweh.
    And don’t think for a moment that the wicked, in their prosperity,
    are better off than you.
Stay away from anger and revenge.
    Keep envy far from you, for it only leads you into lies.
For one day the wicked will be destroyed,
    but those who trust in the Lord
    will inherit the land.
10 Just a little while longer and the ungodly will vanish;
    you will look for them in vain.
11 But the humble of heart will inherit every promise[f]
    and enjoy abundant peace.
12 Let the wicked keep plotting against the godly
    with all their sneers and arrogant jeers.
13 God laughs at the wicked and their plans,
    for he knows their day is coming!
14 Evil ones take aim at the poor and helpless;
    they are ready to slaughter those who do right.
15 But the Lord will turn all their weapons of wickedness back on themselves,
    piercing their pride-filled hearts until they are helpless.
16 It is much better to have little
    combined with much of God
    than to have the fabulous wealth of the wicked and nothing else.
17 For the Lord takes care of all his forgiven ones
    while the strength of evil men will surely slip away.
18 Day by day the Lord watches the good deeds of the godly,
    and he prepares for them his forever-reward.
19 Even in a time of disaster he will watch over them,
    and they will always have more than enough
    no matter what happens.
20 All the enemies of God will perish.
    For the wicked have only a momentary value, a fading glory.
    Then one day they vanish! Here today, gone tomorrow.
21 They break their promises, borrowing money
    but never paying it back.
    The good man returns what he owes with some extra besides.
22 Yahweh’s blessed ones receive the land,
    but the cursed ones will be cut off
    with nothing to show for themselves.
23 When Yahweh delights in how you live your life,
    he establishes your every step.
24 If they stumble badly they will still survive,
    for the Lord lifts them up with his hands.
25 I was once inexperienced,[g] but now I’m old.
    Not once have I found a lover of God forsaken by him,
    nor have any of their children gone hungry.
26 Instead, I’ve found the godly ones
    to be the generous ones who give freely to others.
    Their children are blessed and become a blessing.
27 If you truly want to dwell forever in God’s presence,
    forsake evil and do what is right in his eyes.
28 The Lord loves it when he sees us walking in his justice.
    He will never desert his devoted lovers;
    they will be kept forever in his faithful care,
    but the descendants of the wicked will be banished.
29 The faithful lovers of God will inherit the earth
    and enjoy every promise of God’s care,
    dwelling in peace forever.
30 God-lovers make the best counselors.
    Their words possess wisdom and are right and trustworthy.
31 The ways of God are in their hearts
    and they won’t swerve from the paths of steadfast righteousness.
32 Evil ones spy on the godly ones, stalking them
    to find something they could use to accuse them.
    They’re out for the kill!
33 But God will foil all their plots.
    The godly will not stand condemned when brought to trial.
34 So don’t be impatient for Yahweh to act;
    keep moving forward steadily in his ways,
    and he will exalt you to possess the land.
    You’ll watch with your own eyes
    and see the wicked lose everything.
35 I’ve already seen this happen.
    Once I saw a wicked and violent man
    overpower all who were around him,
    a domineering tyrant with his prideful and oppressive ways.
36 Then he died and was forgotten.
    Now no one cares that he is gone forever.
37 But you can tell who are the blameless and spiritually mature.
    What a different story with them!
    The godly ones will have a peaceful, prosperous future
    with a happy ending.
38 Every evil sinner will be destroyed, obliterated.
    They’ll be utter failures with no future!
39 But the Lord will be the Savior of all who love him.
    Even in their time of trouble, God will live in them as strength.
40 Because of their faith in him, their daily portion will be
    a Father’s help and deliverance from evil.
    This is true for all who turn to hide themselves in him!

Footnotes

  1. 37 Psalm 37 is an acrostic psalm, in which every other verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
  2. 37:4 The word delight means “to be soft or tender.”
  3. 37:5 The Hebrew word used here can be translated “commit,” which means “to roll over your burdens on the Lord.”
  4. 37:6 The Hebrew verb found here is also used for giving birth. Perhaps this is a reference to the birth of Christ, our righteousness.
  5. 37:7 The root word of the word for “wait” can mean “to whirl” or “to be in labor [give birth].” What an unusual concept for waiting on God. We may feel like we’re being whirled around by our circumstances, but in the end, our season of waiting gives birth to greater things.
  6. 37:11 See Matt. 5:5.
  7. 37:25 Or “immature.” The Hebrew word na’ar has a homonym that means “to be driven out,” which may be a reference to David being driven out of Jerusalem by Absalom.