DWELL IN THE LAND
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
-- Psalm 37-3
If Psalm 37 resembles a collection of Proverbs, that’s because it is—and a carefully organized one at that. As an alphabetic acrostic poem for teaching, Psalm 37 stands out as a double acrostic because each pair of verses, or lines in the original, begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each line has two parts. The acrostic structure serves as an aid to memorization and provides a logical sequence for exposition.
Verse 1 alone begins with negative warnings to the psalmist’s pupils (Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; …) followed by the reason, the brevity of their existence. Otherwise, the next four pairs of lines begin with positive admonitions: trust, dwell, delight, commit, be still, refrain from (verses 3-9). Except for verses 27, 31, and 37, the remainder of the psalm contains reassuring precepts like verses 10-1l:
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 peace and prosperity.
As a whole, the teacher reinforces his advice to trust in God, dwell in the land, and inherit it in peace, according to God’s plan for Israel:
“See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them” Deuteronomy 1:8.
Psalm 37, thus viewed, becomes an exposition of Psalm 36:8-9:
They feast on the abundance of your house;you give them drink from your river of delights.For with you is the fountain of life;in your light we see light.
No dry exposition either, Psalm 37 extols God’s plan for Israel, how to trust in it and
make it truly their inheritance by keeping his Law and commandments. It shows how they
give life to all who listen, but mean death who all who reject them. It anticipates Jesus
Christ’s parable of the house built on the Rock and one built on sand (Matthew 7:24-27),
showing why the former endures when the latter crumbles. For all who listen, trust and obey,
Psalm 37 evokes the dream of returning to the tree of life and light to find peace in its
shade, in a good land where the Lord God comes to walk with his people in the cool of the
evening. It waits there for Israel in their inheritance.
Jesus Christ may well allude to Psalm 37 in his Beatitudes:
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:8).
The meek will inherit more than the Psalmist could know!
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33).
For the welfare of all those caught in the paths of this week’s destructive tornadoes.
To let the precepts of Psalm 37 become a part of the better “little” that belongs to the righteous as their inheritance by the grace of God.
Like invitationsare the words of the wise,and peace to your soul.-- a haiku***
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