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O rest in the Lord

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O Rest in the Lord

Psalm 37 vv 1-11

   Do not fret because of evil men

or be envious of those who do wrong;

2 for like the grass they will soon wither,

like green plants they will soon die away. 

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

4 Delight yourself in the LORD

and he will give you the desires of your heart. 

5 Commit your way to the LORD;

trust in him and he will do this:

6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. 

7 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. 

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;

do not fret—it leads only to evil.

9 For evil men will be cut off,

but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. 

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;

though you look for them, they will not be found.

11 But the meek will inherit the land

and enjoy great peace.  [1]

It is impossible for the preacher to avoid the lasting effects of that dreadful day in New York, even though I am sure that many have addressed themselves to it in the last month.    I want to share some thoughts with you from the opening verses of Psa 37.

In the face of an hostile world the psalmist offers :

    A new view of the wicked

    A confidence in the future, and

    A series of instructions concerning our relationship with God.


 

Over-arching all of that is his emphasis in verse 7 which has been so beautifully set to music by Mendelssohn and offered as a remedy to Elijah as he sits beneath the desert tree, running from Jezebel.

“O rest in the Lord

Wait patiently for Him

And He will give thee thy heart’s desire”

Over and over again lately we have been presented with the features of the World’s present most wanted man.  It is difficult not to be depressed. The psalmist offers a remedy:

Against a background full of wickedness, exploitation,  wealth and corruption, the believer is to have a SETTLED CONFIDENCE IN GOD.

His life is to marked by PEACE and OPTIMISM, SECURITY and A SECURE FUTURE.

How is this realised?

1.  A new view of the wicked

(a)     This requires a radical change of view :

They are not to be fretted over      the Hebrew means “get hot about”                  v2

They are not to be envied              the value system we have is altogether

                                                          different

(b)     The Psalm is realistic about the wicked

They succeed              7 and 35

do not fret when men succeed in their ways,

when they carry out their wicked schemes.

35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man

flourishing like a green tree in its native soil,

and are wealthy           16

16 Better the little that the righteous have

than the wealth of many wicked;

They are threatening   12  and 14

12 The wicked plot against the righteous

and gnash their teeth at them;

14 The wicked draw the sword

and bend the bow

to bring down the poor and needy,

to slay those whose ways are upright.

They exploit the poor and needy  14

14 The wicked draw the sword

and bend the bow

to bring down the poor and needy,

to slay those whose ways are upright.

(3)     But the psalmist also stresses their final judgement:

They pass away   2

2 for like the grass they will soon wither,

like green plants they will soon die away.

Will be cut off  9

Have no future  10

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;

though you look for them, they will not be found.

God laughs at them   13

and takes the side of the oppressed  33

32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,

seeking their very lives;

33 but the Lord will not leave them in their power

or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

It is possible to have a settled confidence in the face of all the evil events in the world if we recognise GOD’S VIEW OF THE SITUATION

That will give us ….

2.  A new confidence for the future

A secure dwelling place       3, 11, 29

3 Trust in the Lord and do good;

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

11 But the meek will inherit the land

and enjoy great peace.

29 the righteous will inherit the land

and dwell in it for ever.

Realised ambitions      4

4 Delight yourself in the Lord

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

An expectation of justice      6

6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

A lasting inheritance    18

18 The days of the blameless are known to the Lord,

and their inheritance will endure for ever.

Protection from disaster   19

19 In times of disaster they will not wither;

in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

Support when stumbling  24

23 If the Lord delights in a man’s way,

he makes his steps firm;

24 though he stumble, he will not fall,

for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

To have a confidence for the future when all around us is evidence of evil and wickedness demands a unique relationship with God …

3.  Instructions for our relationship with God

The psalm gives us some clear instructions in pairs  – especially in the opening verses.

We can see them summarised like this :

    Trust and do                 v3

    Commit and trust                   v5

    Be still and wait            v7

{They are stated in pairs with the exception of verse 4 which may be said to sum up all the others:

4 Delight yourself in the Lord

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

In these troubled times it is the mark of a believer’s life that it is focussed on God;

It enjoys His promises and His work and His character.}

In a world where the ambitions and desires of the hearts of unbelievers are clearly stated and avidly pursued these rules are offered …

    TRUST and DO           v 3

3 Trust in the Lord and do good;

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Action is never to be divorced from faith, nor faith pursued without works

    COMMIT and TRUST v 5

5 Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in him and he will do this:

Hand over the reigns of your life – the rudder of your ship – the ambition of your way to God

The territory you pass through may be uncharted or difficult but as you TRUST in Him he brings you through.

What does he do?

6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

That is His intention – to demonstrate our righteousness, the justice of our cause in a blaze of glory.

    BE STILL and WAIT    v7

This is our text : REST IN THE LORD….

7 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.

It is placed – as is the whole Psalm firmly against the background of a wicked Godless world.

This was the lesson Elijah learnt who yearned for earthquake, wind or fire; who wanted to see Jezebel judged and his own “solitary” faith rewarded.

The reaction of the prophet running away to the still small voice.

There is no more running

No more self-justification

No more excuses …

Just me Lord, listening to You Lord.  Waiting for my instructions.

I believe we are in danger of losing the meditative element of the Christian life.

So busy with this and that, so preoccupied with the world and its attacks, that we

are not quiet and will not wait.

That is the supreme lesson of this Psalm.

“Oh Rest in the Lord…”

 

SUMMARY:

    A new view of the wicked

    A confidence in the future, and

    A series of instructions concerning our relationship with God.

 


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[1]The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

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