1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
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 Take delight 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 righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people 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 those who are evil will be destroyed,
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 peace and prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
and their inheritance will endure for ever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
20 But the wicked will perish:
though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed.
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.
27 Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land for ever.
28 For the Lord loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it for ever.
30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.
32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
33 but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
34 Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.
38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
There are times in life when we just don’t know what’s coming next. Without going into a great long (and rambling) story, to some extent I feel very much like that at the moment. There are some things I am relatively confident of, but there are others where I have no clue at all. It’s such a temptation for me in these moments to try and engineer things together so that I have a firm idea of where we’re going. Or to look at my circumstances, do some ‘spiritual’ sums and conclude that it’s all a sign that God is going to do X. Both approaches are ultimately supremely unhelpful!
Although David clearly writes this Psalm in a time of adversity and threat from his enemies, I think it has a lot to say into other situations of uncertainty. Four words sprang out at me – found in verses 5 and 7:
- Commit – carry on following the path you feel God has placed you at this moment – as someone said to me recently: ‘You can only play the ball where it lands’.
- Trust – in the Lord, rather than yourself. This means actively seeking his will without trying to rush or engineer a solution. The story of Jacob in Genesis has much to teach us about how to get this wrong!
- Be still – not sit on the sofa and watch endless Jeremy Kyle episodes but rather position your heart in a place of stillness, calm those whirling, unruly, anxious thoughts into stillness.
- Wait – because His plan is best. And it’s well worth waiting for.
Questions for thought and discussion
Which of the four steps above do you find the most difficult in moments of uncertainty?
What stories could you tell your young people about times when you have learned what it looks like to trust in God?