1 – “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.” (Psalm 37:1-2, ESV)
RAF: Any joy and peace the world can give, is temporary. Those finding their joy and peace in it, will pass away with it.
2 – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4, ESV)
RAF: The only true and lasting joy there is, is to be found in His person. When you finally seek Him, and know that you can only have that joy to whatever degree you come to EN-joy Him, then you find the desire of your heart – the desire you were designed to have filled by Him – met. Father, forgive me for seeking joy, peace and happiness in things you’ve made, and not in YOU. Forgive me for setting my eyes so low. For settling for so little. Like a child being happier with the wrapping on the gift because they do not yet have the maturity to appreciate what’s inside. Fill me with yourself.
3 – “For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.” (Psalm 37:17, ESV)
RAF: How graphic. In judgment, the wicked lose the very capacity to retain a grip on what they love so much. Their arms are broken. But those who are the Lord’s – are held by His arms. In other words, they come to know how tightly He clings to what He loves so much. And the righteous are the objects of the Father’s own infinite, divine love.
4 – “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” (Psalm 37:25, ESV)
RAF: This is not a promise that Christian parents have some sort of spiritual insurance policy that guarantees prosperity for their children. Children of the righteous here is to be taken in the same way we would speak of “children of wrath.” In other words, those who are themselves righteous, who by virtue of their righteousness share a common heritage with all who walk with God. The people and family of God is not a people and family due to genetics or ethnicity – but due to being baptized into one Body by one Spirit.
5 – “ To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah. As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”” (Psalm 42:1-3, ESV)
RAF: It is most common to attribute these words to David, when he had to flee Jerusalem because his son Absolom was staging a coup. These are the expressions of David’s pain at being unable to go up to the Tent to worship God. To gather with the saints in the joyful assembly. To be where God’s presence is manifested in the Holy of Holies. Being apart from where the Mercy Seat was. It is mournful. It is deepest groaning. How different from our day. We sing these words as though they are a simple expression of how we delight in Him. When few of us would speak of being apart from the congregation and its worship as being a life and death sorrow – like a deer, thirsting and near perishing, pants in pain for water. May the Lord be pleased to restore such a spirit in us today. Heavenly Father, do so in me.
6 – “If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart. Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Psalm 44:20-22, ESV)
RAF: Sometimes our suffering has no easy or clear explanation. What would appear to be God’s hand of chastening, cannot be tied to rebellion or known sin. To keep seeking Him in those hours seems counter intuitive. But the Psalmist leads us down a tried and true path. Even when it seems as though God’s own face is set against us – we are to pursue Him. For we know – He is a God of mercy, grace, lovingkindness, and that he is faithful and does not cast us off. Father, when I cannot discern the meaning of your providences, let me rest in the steadfastness of your glorious nature and person. You cannot be other than what you are – Love.
7 – “Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him.” (Psalm 45:10-11, ESV)
RAF: What an expression! The heart of Christ is especially moved with desire toward His betrothed, when we forsake all others and cling only to Him. When His words are the dearest to us. When His majesty overwhelms us. That is when He finds us most lovely. We are never more beautiful to Him then when we are wholly and unreservedly – His.
8 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah” (Psalm 46:1-3, ESV)
RAF: God IS our refuge, He does not provide one outside of Himself. he desires us to run to Him in everything. God is our strength – He does not make US strong, He bids us to rely upon Him. God is VERY present in our troubles. He is not far off. He remains with us at all times. THEREFORE the Psalmist concludes. Since the One who made the earth is the one we run to when it crumbles beneath our feet; since the one who formed the mountains is our strength, when they begin to disintegrate; since He is ever with us though by all accounts we are to be overwhelmed and drowned – we will not fear. Our reality encompasses more than the created universe. We are loved by the Creator.
9 – ““Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”” (Psalm 46:10, ESV)
To know His presence, is to know His perfect peace.
To feel Him near me, is to bid all care subside.
And when anxious fears, wet my eyes with tears,
His gentle voice, rings sweetly through the din –
Be still and know, That I am God.
No foe can harm you, not one hair upon your head.
And though the dark clouds rise, You’ve never left my eyes.
My child –
be still. And know that I am God.
10 – “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”” (Psalm 50:14-15, ESV)
RAF: What a scandal these words would have been in the Psalmist’s day. More than even the sacrificial system God Himself had introduced – are these three things. A heart of thanksgiving that sees all goodness to be bestowed by Him out of His goodness. The mere willingness to keep our word and commitment to Him. And a heart that trusts Him so much, that we look to Him in all things. He delights more in our trust, than any sacrifice we can give.
11 – “These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.” (Psalm 50:21, ESV)
RAF: Heavenly Father, forgive me. How often I have superimposed my feelings, my opinions, my viewpoints onto you. I have assumed you feel toward the same people as I do. I have imagined your willingness to see my compromises, and that you abide them and excuse them as I do. That my priorities and agenda – you take up too. That you are as easily offended as I am. As petty. As punitive. As irritable. As short-tempered. As temporally oriented. I have thought you are one like myself. I have been a fool. Let me see your glory.
12 – “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.” (Psalm 53:1, ESV)
RAF: All “foolishness” flows from this fountain: The living of life and making of decisions without right regard for God.
13 – “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” (Psalm 57:2, ESV)
RAF: Thank you heavenly Father, that I cry to you as a God who has a purpose for me. One who is working out eternal counsels in my life, and not merely reacting to random circumstances. Thank you that as you hear, you answer in accord with your great and good purposes. That you answer according to wisdom – knowing the end, even from the beginning. Thank you. What a comfort to know that in all things, you are about something.
14 – “ To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David. Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods? Do you judge the children of man uprightly?” (Psalm 58:1, ESV)
RAF: Man is never given a more God-like honor than he is in being appointed to administrate justice in this world. Nothing speaks more of man’s depravity and rebellion against God than the perversion of justice. The violence of this imprecatory Psalm is aimed at those perverse rulings. To “break the teeth in their mouths” (vs. 6) is to bring their unjust rulings to nothing. To judge their failure to judge rightly, and to overthrow their wicked counsel. We ought to pray much for the restoration of just ruling bodies in our own nation – and for unjust rulings to be overthrown and destroyed.