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Psalm 37:1-11 1
1 Do not fret because of evil men 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 Delight yourself 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 righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men 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 evil men will be cut off, 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 great peace.

clip_image008Background 2

This psalm is a sermon, and an excellent useful sermon it is, calculated not (as most of the psalms) for our devotion, but for our conversation; there is nothing in it of prayer or praise, but it is all instruction; it is “Maschil—a teaching psalm;” it is an exposition of some of the hardest chapters in the book of Providence, the advancement of the wicked and the disgrace of the righteous, a solution of the difficulties that arise thereupon, and an exhortation to conduct ourselves as becomes us under such dark dispensations. The work of the prophets (and David was one) was to explain the law. Now the law of Moses had promised temporal blessings to the obedient, and denounced temporal miseries against the disobedient, which principally referred to the body of the people, the nation as a nation; for, when they came to be applied to particular persons, many instances occurred of sinners in prosperity and saints in adversity; to reconcile those instances with the word that God had spoken is the scope of the prophet in this psalm.

Biblical Truths

  • He forbids us to fret at the prosperity of the wicked in their wicked ways, ver. 1, 7, 8.
  • He gives very good reasons why we should not fret at it.
    • Because of the scandalous character of the wicked (ver. 12, 14, 21, 32) notwithstanding their prosperity, and the honorable character of the righteous, ver. 21, 26, 30, 31.
    • Because of the destruction and ruin which the wicked are nigh to (ver. 2, 9, 10, 20, 35, 36, 38) and the salvation and protection which the righteous are sure of from all the malicious designs of the wicked, ver. 13, 15, 17, 28, 33, 39, 40.
    • Because of the particular mercy God has in store for all good people and the favor he shows them, ver. 11, 16, 18, 19, 22-25, 28, 29, 37.
  • He prescribes very good remedies against this sin of envying the prosperity of the wicked and great encouragement to use those remedies, ver. 3-6, 27, 34. In singing this psalm we must teach and admonish one another rightly to understand the providence of God and to accommodate ourselves to it, at all times carefully to do our duty and then patiently to leave the event with God and to believe that, how black so ever things may look for the present, it shall be “well with those that fear God, that fear before him.”

Items for Discussion

  • What are the ways you personally see evil seemingly succeed each day?
  • How does that make you feel?
  • What comfort should we receive when we read this psalm?
  • God makes suggestions in handling the wicked – what are they?
  • When you read the last verse, how does this remind you of Christ?

 

Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Background

Philippians has been called the Epistle of Joy. The verb occurs at 1:18; 2:17,18,28; 3:1; 4:4,10. The noun occurs at 1:4,25; 2:2,29; 4:1, for a total of twelve. But it is a particular kind of joy. Paul speaks of joy in the fact of death. He speaks of joy over the spiritual progress of the Philippians. He even calls them his joy and crown.

The joy of a Christian is like that of his Lord of Whom it is said that because of the joy that lay before Him He endured the cross and despised the shame thereof (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus once said that whenever people revile, persecute and say all kinds of evil things against them falsely for Jesus’ sake, they should rejoice and exult because their reward in heaven is great. It’s not wrong to rejoice over a new car, the success of one’s children, one’s relationship to spouse, etc. God is not a God of sorrow. He loves to give Christians these bonuses. But there is a joy greater than that. Of that Paul speaks in this text.

Biblical Truths

Philippians 4:4 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

This is an example of the third use of the Law. God tells us what we are to do. The prepositional phrase “in the Lord” occurs nine times in this Epistle (1:14; 2:19,24,29; 3:1; 4:1,2,4,10). Each phrase gets its precise meaning from the context. Here, in verse 4, it amounts to: “Because Jesus is your Savior.”

Note that they are told to rejoice at all times. Rejoicing in the Lord is to be a way of life for the Christian. And so important is this concept to Paul that he says: “I’ll say it again ‘Rejoice.'” Compare 3:1 where this same expression occurs. There Paul says that he doesn’t mind saying it over and over again.

This verse implies that Christians easily become downhearted. Very likely the Philippian Christians felt down because their beloved pastor was now in prison. But Paul tells them to rejoice nonetheless. It’s like Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi (Acts 16) when, instead of sitting around and moping, they were praying and singing hymns to God.

Items for Discussion

  • Where does your joy come from?
  • When you meet someone who is joyful, are you suspicious, open, warm, loving – in other words, how do you feel when you are around someone who is joyful?
  • How does thinking about something affect how we act?
  • What do you personally do when you want to change yourself to something better?
  • Don’t Christians experience evil thoughts? Don’t Christians experience seasons of confusion and distress? How can Paul say what he says in verse 7?
  • What does the final verse of this New Testament Scripture tell us about how we impact others?

Discussion Challenge

  • Where does the joy in our church come from?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. Matthew Henry Commentaries: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc3.Ps.xxxviii.html
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