Psalm 37:1 ‘Fret not thyself…….’

February 12, 2017 by David Farmer 0 comments

Posted in: Weekly Commentary

This Weeks Focus Passage: Psalm 37:1    

‘Fret not thyself…….’

                The inspired words of the focus of our attention this week are found on only four occasions, at least in the American Standard Version (1901) of the Scriptures. Three of these four occasions are to be located in the psalm under consideration, namely the 37th Psalm, ‘a psalm of David’ according to its inspired inscription. The fourth employment of ‘Fret not thyself’ is to be found in the book of Proverbs, the human authorship almost universally ascribed to David’s son, Solomon. This son has written in 24:19 ‘Fret not thyself because of evil-doers; neither be thou envious at the wicked,’ almost verbatim with David’s psalm as though it may even have been copied directly from that 37th psalm’s first verse. Solomon had, quite evidently, laid hold upon that extremely necessary exhortation given for the children of God. May this blessed truth ever be imbibed and acted upon by those for whom it was given, that Christ’s wonderful prayer for His bride, and unto the Father, be answered ever and always, that the Bride of Christ be sanctified in the Truth; His Word is Truth.

                Turning our attention back then to Psalm 37 with the understanding that the ‘proverbial’ reference is an iteration of this psalm, let us consider the three different instances of the admonishment, ‘Fret not thyself,’ in verses 1, 7, and 8. While the exhortation is the same, the ground, the basis, the reason given differ for each of the three distinct instances.

                In the very first verse, our Lord, through the psalmist has cautioned us, or warned us, against fretting ourselves because of evil-doers. This is expanded upon with the additional language, Neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness. It is clear that those that work unrighteousness are the very same with those denominated evil-doers. It is similarly clear that the exhortation in this case against fretting involves an envy against those that behave in unrighteous ways. The danger for the child of God in this case is that of fretting, or worrying, or being anxious—expressly stated, ‘be not envious’—with regard to such evil-doers as they that work unrighteousness.   Can we not, all of us, as redeemed sinners, relate to the hazard of actually envying those that are working things out for themselves in many ways contrary to the right way, or righteousness? Is there not often felt something of an innate jealousy over many that seem to ‘get away with murder’? We become aware of an acquaintance, or neighbor, constantly bringing home new toys, a brand new car, an addition to his house, maybe even a speedboat in his garage. We discover that the ‘secret of his success’ is that he cheats in his business dealings, or he lies on his tax return form. Is it not a real temptation to fret, or worry, or even to be jealous of this individual getting ahead, as they say, by cheating, and that with impunity? There are two responses given us by the psalmist in this regard. The first is that this individual’s evil is not with impunity; they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. The second response, and the one of the most importance, stop looking at what he has, and what you don’t have. Look unto Jesus! Behold your God! Look at what you have in Christ. Trust in Jehovah. Dwell in the land and feed upon Him. Delight in Him. Commit thy way unto Jehovah; that is, roll thy burden upon Him. It has been well said that so often, the believer goes to prayer, laying all his burdens and cares at the Lord’s feet—to put it that way—only to rise from prayer and pick the burdens back up as he leaves. No, we are to roll them off from ourselves and roll them onto our Savior who cares for us, leaving them unto Him.

                This is spoken to again in the 7th verse which exhorts us to:

Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for him: Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devises to pass.

In many ways, this is a repeat of the danger of too much concern being made over the evil-doer in verse 1. But in this verse, the direction recommended differs a little. We are encouraged to Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for him. The idea of resting in Jehovah is enlarged in a marginal note which expresses the Hebrew to suggest our being still before, or silent to, Jehovah. This is itself reminiscent of the 46th psalm where we are able to read, we may well say, the conclusion of the matter:

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. [Selah

Is this not, if fact, the substance of the responses given to fretting in Psalm 37? That God is our Refuge? Hear, hear; vs. 17, Jehovah upholdeth the righteous, vs. 24, For Jehovah upholdeth him with his hand, vs. 39, He is their stronghold in the time of trouble, vs. 40, Because they have taken refuge in him. Trust in Him, Delight in Him, Rest in Him, Wait for Him. Though He tarry, wait for Him.

                Do these things; you will never trust in vain, you will never delight in Him but you find Him delighting in you, be still and know that He is not being still for you, wait for Him, He is coming, though He tarry long, He is coming again. What we must never do is to permit impatience to impel us to anger and thoughts of wrath.

This is dealt with in the final use of fret not thyself in the 8th verse;

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: Fret not thyself, it tendeth only to evil-doing. For evil-doers shall be cut off; But those that wait for Jehovah, they shall inherit the land.

I strongly suspect that we all, at this point, must confess how often we have failed in this arena. We have, in fact, turned our thoughts away from the truth that God is with us; we have forgotten to be feeding on His faithfulness, vs. 3, we have been feeding on thoughts of avenging ourselves in some matter; we may have left off delighting in Jehovah, and His promise to give us the desires of our hearts, vs. 4. Must we not admit that by allowing this fretting plague a place in our minds and hearts, we have allowed disbelief to have its way with us? Perhaps this was precisely the way it was with Peter and others who looked at the winds and the waves and began to sink.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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