1 Fret not yourself because of the ungodly, *
neither be envious of those who are evildoers.
2 For they shall soon be dried up like the grass, *
and be withered even as the green herb.
3 Put your trust in the Lord, and do good; *
dwell in the land, and surely you shall be fed.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord, *
and he shall give you your heart’s desire.
5 Commit your way unto the Lord and put your trust in him, *
and he shall bring it to pass.
6 He shall make your righteousness as clear as the light *
and your just dealing as the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; *
do not grieve yourself over the one whose way prospers, over the one who carries out evil counsels.
8 Refrain from wrath, and let go of anger; *
fret not yourself, lest you be moved to do evil.
9 For evildoers shall be rooted out, *
but those who wait patiently for the Lord, they shall inherit the land.
I am always amazed at the work the Psalms do in me. My morning devotions today brought me to Psalm 37 and its command to “Fret not yourself.” I must admit that I see a great deal of fretting, in my own life and in those who seek pastoral care with me. Most of us place the burden of that fretting on the people around us, those people who do not shoulder their load, those who work injustice, those who lie and never get caught, the list goes on and on regarding the way that others provoke our fretting. Yet, the psalmist tells us directly, “Fret not yourself because of the ungodly.”
Could it be possible that all of this fretting is brought upon us not by other people but by our own selves? If I don’t fret and try to bring about justice and fairness in my own way, won’t those slackers and meanies just go on without any consequence? The psalmist assures us that God is indeed sovereign. The psalm describes in detail the demise of the ungodly and the reward of the righteous.
If I am not to fret, what then should I do? The psalmist does not leave us without recourse. We are directed to trust in the Lord, delight in the Lord, commit our way to the Lord, be still and wait for the Lord. What if instead of fretting, I tried faithing instead? What if instead of an internal monologue or an external spewing of judgement and condemnation, I instead turned to prayer, prayers of supplication for God to act, prayers of intercession that the ungodly might be turned to God, and perhaps even prayers of repentance as I come to recognize my own lack of faith and righteousness.
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.