HYMN: NEARER MY GOD, TO THEE
Godly attitudes, when ardently developed, produce godly character, and will definitely produce a glorious destiny.
It is commonly said that “money speaks”. Those who believe this statement most probably do not have any intimate relationship with God, except to call on him in crisis situations when money cannot render any help. When the Holy Spirit inspired David to unveil the secrets of the kingdom as recorded in Psalms 37, there were not as many wicked and probably wealthy individuals as we have today, but his word to the believer what’s timely and soothing: “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong” (Psalms 37:1). David went on to implore believers to develop godly attitudes which will produce a glorious destiny.
No believer can afford to glance over the words of Psalms 37. He does and so at his own peril. Be he in opulence and splendor, Psalm 37:4 will do him a lot of good, “Delight yourself in the Lord”, or with little material gains, Psalms 37:16 is instructive, “better the little that the righteous have” (Psalm 37), therefore brings us into a privilege position of sharing in the rich experience of a man who had a close walk with the Lord. It is a psalm that the Lord could use to calm our wildest fears and relieve our stressed nerves. It is a psalm that urges us to hold tenaciously onto the Lord in spite of seemingly contradicting experiences of life.
The objectives of this study are:
To know some godly attitude that can sustain us under all circumstances.
2. To know that an ungodly life has no eternal gains.
3. To know the unfailing providences of God.
4. To know the contrasts between the rewards of the wicked and the righteous.
Q1. WHAT CHALLENGES CONFRONT THE BELIEVER IN TODAY’S TEXT?
Experiences of persons who accepted Christ into their lives and our daily charting a course of a close walk with Him vary from place to place and from continent to continent. That should not be a surprise to any of us. Four instance the daily experiences of the believer in a war-torn country like Sierra Leone and those of a believer in a high-class neighborhood in California would be markedly different. The only thing that will be common to both believers will be this confession: “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” (Psalms 107:1) they will in their contrasting environments see the glorious hand of the Lord all about them.
We went to four with that example. We don’t need to travel across continents to identify daily experiences of believers that seem to contradict God’s word. All about us, the wicked seem to do much better in terms of wealth, material possessions and comforts of life than most believers. Some may naïvely attribute this to the fact that believers or lazy. They may not only be absurd but simply for from the truth. Some of the most hard-working individuals around are believers who have made God their sufficiency.
It is not strange to see the wicked and ungodly enjoying many of the material blessings of God, while the believer and godly apparently are in the lack of them. Psalm 37:7 and Psalms 92:6-7 indicate that this could be the case, and quickly admonished the believer not to fret about it because it is not an enduring prosperity. True, all around, balanced, and enduring prosperity is reserved for the believer alone; it embraces not just a physical but also the spiritual. “Praise be to God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 1:3) these seeming contradictions are magnified by the devil because he would like us to believe that tangible things which appeal to our five natural senses are more important and significant to our eternal well-being then those which can only be appreciated in the realm of the spirit. That is the lie of the devil which no child of God should give into. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:9-10).
Q2. WHAT ATTITUDES SHOULD BELIEVERS DEVELOP IN ALL LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES?
As alluded in the answer to the previous question, there are seeming contradictions of God’s word that every believer faces in varying degree in his every day walk with the Lord. There are some of our brethren who did not develop some of the attitudes that are being shared here, and have foolishly joined the smooth-going stream of the unbelievers and denied their faith in Christ. We must avoid their error.
Psalm 37:1a tells us “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong”. We do not allow our spirits to become upset and agitated when we see evil men get away with ease with their evil ways nor when they prosper. It should not just cross our mind to become envious of them or wish we were like them. Even when they brag about their exploits and display their wealth and attainment, we remain contented in the God that we serve. This is an attitude that has to be developed. It does not come naturally: it comes with the hearts focused on the Lord, while we willingly allow His Spirit infuse any graft this attitude into our hearts. Essentially, we get to the position when we become dead to the prosperity of the wicked. We don’t for a moment want to know how they made it because that is not our portion.
Psalm 37:7 tells us, “Wait patiently for him (the Lord)” Waiting patiently on the Lord is a direct consequence of the heart that does not fret because of evil men. There is a calm, undistributed and a restful appreciation of the Lord. We attend patiently to the Lord and His word because we know that His presence is our joy and comfort.
Psalm 37:3 says,” Trust in the Lord and do good.” The heart of the believer does not have to be sweet around, but should be fixed intently on the Lord. The believer has confidence in the Lord, irrespective of the circumstances. His heart is stayed on the Lord and cannot be swerved off course by life experiences.
Psalm 37:4 tells us “Delight yourself in the Lord.” The believer’s walk with the Lord and his service to Him and other believers should not degenerate to a drab and gloomy service. The Lord should be our delight always. We don’t get excited about the Lord only when He blesses us materially, but his presence alone brings us untold joy and pleasure. We enjoyed being in His presence in prayers. We enjoy staying in His presence, because He is our delight. There has to be a deliberate effort to dig into a deeper and more intimate relationship with the Lord for us to experience the sweetness of that relationship.
Psalm 37:5 tells us about another godly attitude: “Commit your ways to the Lord.” The believer who has always learnt to commit his way unto the Lord is the one whose ways are pleasing to Him. Even when he finds that what he has committed to the Lord is not in line with his will, the believer is quick to seek forgiveness and turn from that way so that “He (the Lord) Will make your (the believer’s) righteousness shine like dawn (psalm 37:6).” The believer has a singular desire to please the Lord always, so he makes it a habit of committing all aspects of his life-career, marriage, service, work, children, aspirations- to the Lord.
Psalm 37:8 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath.” There are so many upsetting things that come our way that would tend to get us into fits of anger so that we get even with those responsible for our troubles. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto God’s wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:19).” We must understand that there is little profit from the flesh, there is great profit when we allow the Lord to fight our battles.
Any believer who fully develops the aforementioned attitudes will make a success of his walk with the Lord. He will not be put down by the things the wicked do; he will live above the circumstances that come his way.
Q3. WHAT IS THE CERTAINTY OF THE END OF THE WICKED?
“The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs as the wicked, for he knows their day is coming (Psalm 37:12, NIV).” When the wicked thrive in their wicked schemes, they come under an illusion that they are in charge; that they press the button and shots art made. While they think that they are making a success of their exploits, the Lord gives them enough opportunities to repent of their evil ways and turned to His saving grace. In the mind of God, their exploits are only for a time and when their cup is full and will not repent, then their destruction comes swiftly, like a woman overtaken with labor pains. These passages of Scripture- Psalm7: 14-16, 37: 12-22, 59:6-8, Proverbs 10:21, Revelation 20:11-15, 21:8, and Jude 11-13-echo the same theme that’s the wicked will not go unpunished.
What option is available to the wicked? It is that he should turn from his wicked ways, seek God’s forgiveness through the redemption work of Christ death on Calvary, and pursue a life of righteousness. Now that he’s enjoying his wicked schemes it’s at period of grace during which he could find the path of repentance.
Wisdom demands that he takes advantage of this provision from the Lord. The certain end of the wicked is destruction.
Q4. WHAT IS THE PSALMIST PERSONAL WITNESS TO THE UNFAILING PROVIDENCE OF GOD?
The experiences of believers differ from place to place, but they witness the same unfailing providences of the Lord in their daily experiences as David had. David testified that the Lord establishes those who put their trust on Him; they may stumble but they will not be totally cast off. David gave witness to the Lord’s provision of food (a basic necessity of life) to his children: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread (Psalm 37:25).” This testimony of David concerning God’s providence in material things is not restricted to David; Elijah had similar experiences when he was fed by ravens: “The ravens brought him bread and meat in the evening and he drank from the brook (1 Kings 17:6).” Later Elijah, the widow at Zarephath and her son lived on a jar of oil and a handful of flour for a substantial period of time (1 Kings 17:7-24). Paul testified of God’s provision when he testified. “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19, NIV).”
The Lord’s unfailing provisions goal beyond food; they also cover our safety and security. “For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones. They will be protected forever (Psalms 37:28).” The most comprehensive and all-encompassing insurance is that which the Lord provides His own. It is the policy that weather is all storms of life and all perils that come our way.
In addition, the lips of the righteous is never starved of wisdom. “The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his mouth speaks what is just (Psalms 37:30, NIV).” This is because the believer draws from an unfailing and inexhaustible source of wisdom.
Q5. CONTRAST BETWEEN THE REWARD OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED.
The contrast between the righteous and the wicked are the contrasts between life and death, blessings and curses, light and darkness, hope and doom, inheritance and waste, preservation and destruction, enduring prosperity and transient prosperity, hand salvation and wrath. Please contrast can be found in Psalms 37:9-20, 22, 28, 32-40, Proverbs 2:21, 22,3:33-35, John 5:28, 29, Revelations 1:7, 8, 22:14, 15, Deuteronomy 30:15-20. By these contrasting pictures, the Lord gets us to understand that there are no more similarities between the righteous and wicked. For instance, the fact that the righteous has a mouth does not make him similar to the wicked who also has one, nor the fact both of them where the same shirt. The Lord places different marks on each; on one is that of His divine favor and on the other is that of His divine wrath.
Verse 32 of Psalm 37 suggest that the wicked will like to see the ruin of the righteous, but that can be no more than wishful thinking because the lord jealously guards the life of the righteous so that he is not overtaking by the wicked.
Verse 33 indicates that the righteous have an enduring inheritance, but the wicked are cut off theirs. The picture of vapor best describes the prosperity of the wicked; it comes momentarily and quickly disappears (Psalms 37:35, 36). There is a future and hope for the righteous, but absolutely none for the weekend (Psalms 37:37, 38). “For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever feels to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death (Proverbs 8:35, 36, NIV).”
This is a powerful, concise and effective way of conveying the contrast between the righteous and wicked. We are all faced with choosing between life and death. Our choice depends on what we do with the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who chose Him chose eternal life, but those who reject Him chose eternal condemnation.
DAILY LIVING APPLICATION
We have had it said many times that life is a bundle of contradictions. One such contradiction is to see a wicked man who maybe an alcoholic and chai-smoker live to his eighties and a godly individual live to just his fifties. This and many other contradictions seem to suggest that there are no clear-cut patterns or trends to expect in life. Because we see life from a narrow perspective, having no grasp of the complete picture, we tend to think that this statement is correct. It is far from the truth. Our God has the complete picture, and sets things according to His divine order. On our part, we need to develop godly attitudes, even though there are certain experiences we may not understand. We need not envy the wicked, but trust in the Lord, committing our ways to Him, leaning and waiting patiently on Him. As we do this, life may not fully harmonize with our five natural senses, but faith will keep our hearts warm and joyful.
Psalm 37:4- “Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart”.
DAILY DEVOTIONAL GUIDE
Mon: Godly attitudes for all circumstance.
Tue: There is no cause to fret.
Wed: The wicked is destined for condemnation.
Thu: God never fails.
Fri: The last may not be our last.
1 Kings 17:7-24.
Sat: Choosing between life and death.