A Psalm of David
1 Fret not thyself because of evil-doers,
Neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and follow after faithfulness.
4 Delight thyself also in the LORD;
And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the LORD;
Trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.
6 Add he shall make thy righteousness to go forth as the light,
And thy judgement as the noonday.
7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him:
Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way,
Because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath:
Fret not thyself, it tendeth only to evil-doing.
9 For evil-doers shall be cut off:
But those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the land.
10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be:
Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and he shall not be.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land;
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
12 The wicked plotteth against the just,
And gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
13 The Lord shall laugh at him:
For he seeth that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow;
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay such as be upright in the way:
15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.
16 Better is a little that the righteous hath
Than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken:
But the LORD upholdeth the righteous.
18 The LORD knoweth the days of the perfect:
And their inheritance shall be for ever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the time of evil:
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish,
And the enemies of the LORD shall be as the excellency of the pastures:
They shall consume; in smoke shall they consume away.
21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again:
But the righteous dealeth graciously, and giveth.
22 For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the land;
And they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
23 A man’s goings are established of the LORD;
And he delighteth in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down:
For the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old;
Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his seed begging their bread.
26 All the day long he dealeth graciously, and lendeth;
And his seed is blessed.
27 Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell for evermore.
28 For the LORD loveth judgement,
And forsaketh not his saints;
they are preserved for ever:
But the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
And dwell therein for ever.
30 The mouth of the righteous talketh of wisdom,
And his tongue speaketh judgement.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall slide.
32 The wicked watcheth the righteous,
And seeketh to slay him.
33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
Nor condemn him when he is judged.
34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way,
And he shall exalt thee to inherit the land:
When the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
35 I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a green tree in its native soil.
36 But one passed by, and, lo, he was not:
Yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright:
For the latter end of that man is peace.
38 As for transgressors, they shall be destroyed together:
The latter end of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD:
He is their strong hold in the time of trouble.
40 And the LORD helpeth them, and rescueth them:
He rescueth them from the wicked, and saveth them,
Because they have taken refuge in him.
This great psalm is so full of ideas there is no way I could talk about every one. At its heart we see David wrestling with the great question: what is it worth being good? If the evil can enjoy their days, why bother?
This psalm offers several ideas and answers; taken together, they reveal the great value of trust. If we trust in God, and are willing to trust his ways, the answers become clear. David says, “Trust also in him and he will bring it to pass.” Though the evil-doer is well now, they “shall soon be cut down like the grass.” How we respond to this claim will depend largely on our trust in God.
Yet, there are ideas in this psalm that we’ve seen with our own eyes, ideas not wholly founded on trust. “The wicked plots against the just and gnash on him with his teeth.” This is no outlandish claim but a reality seen in our day to day experiences at work, school or home. “Better is a little that the righteous has than the abundance of the many wicked” is the theme of many of our stories and movies. Most likely, you’ve experienced it yourself.
The great strength of this psalm comes from a regular reading and meditation of its ideas. Find a line you like and memorize it. Spend a few minutes reading it every morning or evening. Pick a favorite idea and talk to someone about it. When we narrate these ideas we bring to greater perfection our understanding and appreciation for God’s word.