By Henry Mahan
The author of this Psalm is David, the time of its writing is in his old age (v. 25), and the subject has to do with the prosperity of the wicked while the people of God suffer affliction and trial.
This has troubled and perplexed many, as indicated in Psalm 73. This has a Psalm in which the Lord sweetly hushes the complaints of his people and calms their minds concerning his present dealings with them. Briefly, here are some of the questions raised and answered:
vv. 1-2. Evil doers flourish and prosper like the green grass and the green herb, but they shall soon be cut down and wither like the grass (Isa. 40:6-8).
vv. 12-13. The wicked hate believers and persecute them; yet the Lord laughs at their opposition (Psalm 2:4), for their day of judgment is coming (Deut. 32:35).
vv. 14-15. The wicked take advantage of believers and draw their swords to hurt them, but their swords shall enter their own hearts.
vv. 16-17. Believers seem to have so little, while great are the riches of wicked men; but their riches are temporary and shall fade, while our inheritance is forever.
v. 20. The enemies of the Lord seem to get fatter and fatter, but it is the fat of 'lambs for the slaughter.' Who envies the pig or the turkey, which is well-fed while being prepared for the slaughter?
vv. 35-37. The wicked on earth have great power and proudly flaunt that power and greatness like a great tree, but they shall soon pass away and no remembrance of them can be found.
Mark the believer in Christ; his end is eternal peace.
vv. 38-40. What is the bottom line? Where is all this settled?
How are we to be comforted in our trials, while we watch the wicked prosper, flourish, and live in ease? Look at their destruction and final condemnation (Psalm 73:12-17), then look at the grace of God to believers in Christ!
1. Grace is described--'The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.'
2. Grace is summarized--'The Lord is our strength and shall deliver us.'
3. Grace is characterized--'They trust in him.' In the light of all that has been said, David lays down eight great precepts or directions for God's people.
1. 'Fret not thyself because of evildoers' (v. 1). Do not burn with jealousy, envy, nor anger over the prosperity of wicked men: they have all now that they shall ever have. They spend their brief days upon earth in ease and riches, but they shall be soon cut down like the weeds. A sight of their terrible end ought to deliver us from envying them; and were it not for God's grace and our Lord's redemption, we would be one of them.
2. 'Trust in the Lord' (v. 3). Faith in Christ will cure fretting. Our outward conduct depends on our inward attitude and confidence in our God. Trust not men nor riches; they will come to naught (Psalms 146:3-5). Trust in the Lord for pardon, protection, provision, and his wise providence. 'Thou shalt be fed all that is needed (Psalm 37:25; Matt. 6:30-33; Phil. 4:19).
3. 'Delight thyself in the Lord' (v. 4). He who is commanded not to fret, he who is commanded to trust, is also exhorted to delight in the Lord. In giving up the world we have given up nothing. In Christ Jesus we have all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). Like Moses, we know that the reproach of Christ is greater riches than all the treasures of the world (Heb. 11:26). Therefore, we delight in our Lord, we rejoice in him, and we are glad to go into the house of the Lord. We delight in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:2). We delight to do his will Psalm 40:8). His mercy and comfort delight our souls ( Psalm 94:19). We sit down under his shadow with great delight (Song of Sol. 2-3). 'Godliness with contentment is great gain.'
4. 'Commit thy way unto the Lord' (v. 5). Cast away anxiety, worry, and fear. 'Cast your care upon him for he careth for you' (1 Peter 5:7). Roll the whole burden of life and eternity upon the Lord, like the farmer who plows the field, plants the seed, and leaves the harvest to the Lord; for what else can he do? Trust him, for he will bring it to pass.
5. 'Rest in the Lord' (v. 7). When God completed the creation of the world, it is said that he rested. This is not a rest from weariness, but simply declaring that there was no more to do-- creation was finished! Our Lord Jesus entered into his rest having finished the work of redemption (Heb. 4:10). Let us strive to enter into his rest. Cease from fretting, laboring, and doubting and rest in him (Matt. 11:28-30). The more one learns of his sufficiency, the greater the rest!
6. 'Cease from anger' (v. 8). Knowing the good providence of the Lord and his eternal purpose to accomplish our good (Rom. 8:28), we entertain no anger toward his ways. Knowing the ignorance and blindness of natural men and that God is the first cause of all things, we hold no anger nor hate for them (Gen. 50:19-20). Getting even or getting revenge against men is not for us but is in God's hands (Heb. 10:30). Anger does not work God's righteousness (James 1:19-20).
7. 'Depart from evil' (v. 27). Here is a double precept: 'Depart from evil,' from the world, the flesh, and the devil, and 'do good.' Work the works of righteousness and honesty and adorn the gospel of the Lord Jesus with good works that men may glorify our Father in heaven.
8. 'Wait on the Lord' (v. 34). He who truly trusts in the Lord and delights in the Lord will rest in the Lord and wait on God's time for all things. Do not bind God to a day or a way. Spurgeon said, 'Wait on the Lord in obedience as a servant, wait in hope as an heir, and wait in expectation as a believer.' 'He shall exalt thee to inherit the land.'