While reading Psalm 37, it would be easy to camp out in verse 4 -- "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart" -- but there is so much more to glean from this 40-verse psalm. I find myself going straight to "the desires of your heart" part and making a mental list of those, but there is an important caveat that needs more of my attention -- delight in the Lord.
Ask our realtor or vendors selling flooring, cabinets, blinds, and countertops, and they will confirm that I've done a fair amount of fretting lately. And yet, Psalm 37 tells me three times in the first eight verses to "fret not." In this case, it is primarily in reference to observing evildoers who appear to be prospering and smoothly carrying out their evil schemes. I am assured that the end result for them will not be good. They will be destroyed, and righteous people will be vindicated. The psalmist writes that God actually laughs at their attempts and schemes, because He knows their end is coming.
Years ago, Steve and I had someone behave unrighteously toward us. Afterward, that person prospered greatly, both professionally and financially. Frankly, it was hard to watch. I may never know the end result of those hurtful actions, but I do know that it is in God's hands, and I have forgiven that person. I confess that forgiveness took longer than it should have on my part.
Right now I don't see myself as envying the wicked or wanting to be like them. My "fretting" or maybe I could call it my "prayer focuses" more often center on a granddaughter who is due to give birth in a couple of weeks, four other grandchildren who are driving now, one who is going on a mission trip to Mexico, one who is starting public high school for the first time in less than a month, and three younger grands who have been sick lately. I beg God to give wisdom to the parents of these wonderful children and to their Sunday School teachers, youth ministers, and pastors. For myself, I am genuinely wanting to know what God wants me to do in these days. I want the way I spend my time to please Him. I want my words and actions to line up with His will for my life. Because of Jesus' death on the cross and my acceptance of His free gift of salvation, I can count myself among the righteous and blameless ones to which this psalm refers.
I see some relevant phrases and pieces of instruction throughout this psalm.
-- Trust in the Lord and do good.
-- Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
-- Delight yourself in the Lord
-- Commit your way to the Lord
-- Be still before the Lord
-- Wait patiently for Him
-- Refrain from anger
-- Turn from evil and do good
-- Hope in the Lord and keep His way
-- Consider the blameless
-- Observe the upright
With such a list as this, I must trust that God will be at work fulfilling promises while I carry out what He's asked me to do.