Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong. Psalm 37:1 (NIV)
Psalm 37 is a wisdom psalm which speaks to man, not God, and is therefore similar in character to the Proverbs. A good title for this psalm would be Proverbs Promoting True Prosperity. The proverbs in Psalm 37 were originally put together utilizing an acrostic framework based on the Hebrew alphabet. With this in mind, the contents of Psalm 37 have been analysed in a similar manner:
Anxiety is of no account. “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away” (v1-2)
Belief brings blessing. “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (v3-4).
Commitment counts with God. “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (v5-6).
Discipline and deliberation precede success. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes” (v7).
Expect an inheritance when your hope is in God. “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land” (v8-9).
Future limitations exist for the wicked but the righteous inherits peace. “A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace” (v10-11).
Grief comes to the wicked. “The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming” (v12-13).
Homicide hastens a wicked man’s death. “The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts and their bows will be broken” (v14-15)
Income contentment is better than an evil man’s prosperity. “Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken but the Lord upholds the righteous” (v16-17).
Joy comes to the righteous despite disaster. “The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure for ever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty” (v18-19).
Knockout blows are delivered to the wicked. “But the wicked will perish: The Lord’s enemies will be like the beauty of the fields, they will vanish – vanish like smoke” (v20).
Liberality leads to blessing. “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be cut off” (v21-22).
Mobility of the righteous moves the hand of God. “The Lord delights in the way of the man whose steps he has made firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand” (v23-24).
Needs are never denied the righteous. “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed” (v25-26).
Obedience is necessary for security. “Turn from evil and do good; then you will always live securely. For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones” (v27-28a).
Protection pursues the righteous but the wicked perish. “They will be protected for ever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off; the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it for ever” (v28b-29).
Righteousness involves your mouth, your heart, and your feet. “The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of God is in his heart; his feet do not slip” (v30-31).
Security and salvation come from God. “The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives; but the Lord will not leave them in their power or let them be condemned when brought to trial” (v32-33).
Trust God for your success. “Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to possess the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it” (v34).
Undoing of the wicked is in God’s control. “I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in native soil, but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found” (v35-36).
Victory is promised for the righteous but the wicked man will be vanquished. “Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace. But all sinners will be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be cut off” (v37-38).
Welfare of the righteous comes from God. “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him” (v39-40).