A Psalm of David.

This is yet another psalm by the great Psalmist, the shepherd-king of Israel, David. This psalm is written to encourage the righteous to patiently continue in well doing, in spite of the fact that the wicked seem to temporarily succeed.

This is another acrostic psalm, where successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet begin various lines of the psalm in alphabetical order. Of course, the English translation hides this fact. In this psalm, each verse does not start with the next letter, but four lines each start with the first Hebrew letter, four lines with the second, and so on. There are three exceptions to this, where only three lines (a triplet) start with a letter. These exceptions are the fourth letter (verse 7,) the eleventh letter (verse 20,) and the nineteenth letter (verse 34.) Bullinger in the Companion Bible suggests that this is because these contain the seventh line, the middle line (ending the first half,) and the seventh-to-the-last line of the Psalm. This may have little to do with the message of the Psalm, but it does help us learn about the poetic form the Psalm was written in.

1. Do not fret because of evildoers,

It is easy for us to start to fret because of men who work calamity. We can become so wrapped up in this and so paralyzed by fear that it will just dominate our lives. Yes, there are wicked men in the world. Yes, there is always the chance that their calamitous deeds will reach out to damage our lives. Yet we are not to focus on such things. We have a God Who is greater than all the works of evildoers. To let them dominate our consciousness is to allow their wickedness to control our lives, even when they have not yet even struck against us. We must take reasonable precautions to defend ourselves against such men, but short of that, we should be focused on the Lord and Savior Who does so much for us. When we live in His love, He will help us to drive out fear.

Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

Many men are convinced by the attitude of the culture around us, by the lies on television and commercials, by the fictions shown in movies and taught by men wise in the world, that the workers of iniquity are having a great time. They see the attractiveness of sin, and they believe that they are missing out by being good people on all the good times that the workers of iniquity are having. This is ultimately an ignorant and foolish attitude, for the pleasures of sin last only for a season, and the price to pay for sin is high. So the Bible urges us not to be taken in by this attitude, and to envy those who do iniquity.

2. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,

We should not fret and envy these men, because they will soon be cut down like the grass. Certainly many of us have been involved at one time or another with the cutting down of grass. How quickly and easily are many days of growth cut back by the mower! And so the evildoers and workers of iniquity will quickly see their works cut down to nothing.

This word “soon” does not mean that the psalmist was expecting this to happen quickly. This was written around three thousand years ago, and still the workers of iniquity have not been cut down like the grass. They still grow and flourish in our world today. And yet we know that the day will come when all such will be cut down. When will this be? We have this set forth in the Bible in passages like II Timothy 3:9, which reads, “But they,” that is, evil men such as are described in verses 1-8, “will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” Someday, evil men will progress no further in their wickedness. What will stop them? Psalm 64:7 tells us, “But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; Suddenly they shall be wounded.” God will yet stop these evildoers in their tracks. When He does this, they will be cut down, as this verse describes.

And wither as the green herb.

When they are cut down, they wither, like a dying plant. This will occur when God’s government comes upon the earth at last. Then, the way of the workers of iniquity will wither and die, and not be seen on earth again for many centuries.

3. Trust in the LORD, and do good;

Rather than fretting, we are called upon to trust in the LORD. Though He might not have cut down the evildoers yet, still we know that He will do so, and will reward the righteous in that day. So, let us leave aside worry and envy, and trust rather in Him. And our trust should result in doing good. Whether or not evil men appear to be better off than us in our eyes, if we trust in the LORD and consider their end, we will know that doing good is the best course of action.

Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

This was written to Israelites, God’s chosen people, who were dwelling in the land God had given them. Thus, they are encouraged to dwell in that land that God had given them, and to feed on His faithfulness in providing for them. In our day, we have no land that God gives us and no physical blessings that He faithfully provides for us according to an agreement such as He had made with the sons of Israel. Nevertheless, we can dwell in the promises of God in His Word, and feed on the good word He has given us. By dwelling therein and feeding thereon, we too can show our trust in the LORD.

4. Delight yourself also in the LORD,

People who are obsessed with the evil things of this world will live in pessimism and fear. Yet this is not where God wants our focus to be. When we look upon the LORD, we will be delighted. In Him, the darkness of this world cannot take away our joy.

And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Many would like to grasp on to this, and think if they are delighting themselves in the LORD, they can get everything they want, like a husband or wife, a car, a boat, or a house. That is not what this verse means. Those who delight in the LORD will desire the things that He would have them to desire. They will not be desiring the empty possessions of this world, but rather the things that are of value to God. In other words, this does not mean that He will fulfill the selfish desires that they have filled their hearts with. Rather, the LORD will give them the desires that they have. They will long for the things He would have them long for. Yes, let our deepest desires be for the things of God!
5. Commit your way to the LORD,

The idea here is of resting or of lying down in repose. Rather than fretting about your way, lay it down upon the LORD. In following His paths, you will never be lost or misled. When your way is with Him, all will come out right in His time.

Trust also in Him,

Again, we are urged to trust in Him. We cannot trust in this world, but only in the God Who has overcome the world.

And He shall bring it to pass.

When our desires are selfish desires, we have no guarantee that they will ever be fulfilled. But when our desires become the desires God would give us, then we can be certain that those desires will be brought to pass. It may not be until the time when He brings His government to earth, but every true desire that comes from Him will someday be brought to pass.

6. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,

Now, our righteousness is often hidden by the fact that we are still dwelling in a sinful condition of things. Yet when the LORD brings our every desire to pass in His coming kingdom, then our righteousness will shine forth as His righteousness. As Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” What a day that will be!

And your justice as the noonday.

Justice for us means vindication. We might commit sin in this world, but in that to come, we will be vindicated by the death of His Son.

7. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;

The idea of “rest” here in the Hebrew is to be silent before the LORD. This is speaking of the silence of one waiting patiently for Him. It has been around three thousand years since these words were written, and yet still we wait for God to bring these things to pass. Still we wait for His government to come to earth. Still we wait for Him to send forth righteousness as the light and justice as the noonday. Yet we can wait patiently for these things, knowing that the LORD will bring them to pass in His time.

Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,

We should not allow our patient waiting to be disturbed by fretting over those wicked persons who prosper in their way in this dark day. We can think of men like those called “porn kings,” who make a fortune off of things that are exploitative and sinful to the core. Though these may seem to prosper, when we consider their end, we can rest in patient waiting. The LORD will deal with all like this in His time.

Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

We think of those like the modern-day terrorists, who plot wicked schemes to slay the innocent, and sometimes succeed in bringing them to pass. Yet these things should not cause us to fret either, for in God’s government men like this will have no place.

8. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;

Many think that a proper response to men like this is anger, yet so often such anger only harms the one who feels it. Others are full of wrath at people like this, and yet the LORD urges us to forsake this as well.

Do not fret–it only causes harm.

Fretting over the wicked, and feeling angry and full of wrath toward them, ultimately does harm, not good. This does not mean that we should not stand against evil people, or try to impede their schemes. Yes, this is the duty of every person. Yet if we do so in a spirit of anger or worry, we will only end up doing harm ourselves.

9. For evildoers shall be cut off;

This is why our anger is unnecessary, and our fretting is useless. Our God will yet see to it that evildoers are cut off. They will not find place for their wicked works upon this earth for all time to come. Someday they will be cut off from the earth, and only those who wait on the LORD will remain.

But those who wait on the LORD,

This is now in contrast to the evildoers who shall be cut off, and tells us what happens rather to those who wait on the LORD.

They shall inherit the earth.

So many religious teachers of today would tell us that heaven is the home, heaven is the inheritance, heaven is the hope of those who wait on the LORD. This teaching is almost universally held by men, and yet this is not the teaching of the Word of God. In this verse, in verse 11, and in verse 22 of this same psalm we will see this. The hope that the LORD holds out to those who wait upon Him is to inherit the earth. This was true then, and this is still true today. Only evildoers shall be cut off from having a place on the earth. Those who proudly claim that this earth is just a temporary home, and that they look forward to leaving it, do not know what they are talking about, and do not know the Scriptures. God’s promise has always been and remains to be that those who are blessed by Him will have a place upon this earth in the future government that God will yet bring into the world.

10. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;

We are assured that yet a little while and the lawless shall be no more. This does not speak of lawless people as individuals. This would be little assurance, if all that was meant was that the current crop of wicked men upon the earth is going to die before long. First of all, we know that this will do little good, for all that will happen is a new generation of lawless people will arise to take their place. And secondly, the same can be said of the righteous, for both alike face the ultimate penalty of death. No, this does not speak of the death of lawless individuals as our hope, but rather of the death of lawless people as a whole. The time will yet come when the lawless as a group shall be no more. Then, there will no longer be any who follow their ways. There will no longer be lawless men to carry on their wickedness. That way of life will have come to an end, and shall be no more.

Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,

Even if you look carefully, even if you try to find some lawless person hidden somewhere or in some remote place of the earth, you will not be able to find one in that day. They will be gone, not to be found.

But it shall be no more.

The place of lawless men shall be no more. There will be no place for them upon the earth at that time.

11. But the meek shall inherit the earth,

The meek are not the weak, as many seem to understand the word. Rather, the meek are those who are submissive to God. Those who humble themselves before Him shall inherit the earth. Their place will easily be found, for the earth itself will belong to them. What a change that will be from the way things are today!

The Lord Jesus Christ quoted these words in Matthew 5:5. Yet most are no more ready to believe His words regarding these things than they are to believe David’s words regarding them. They are certain that the only inheritance for those who submit to God is heaven, and no verse, no word from God, will disavow them from this notion. Let us seek to lay aside all such stubborn tradition, and believe instead what the Word of God has to say upon this matter. Only then can we say we have faith in the promises that God has spoken.

And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Once the lawless are gone and those who submit to God have inherited the earth, there will be an abundance of peace upon the earth. How different from today, when if there is an abundance of anything, it is war and turmoil. Yet we can see how this would change if only those submissive to God were left upon earth. And “peace” does not just mean tranquility or calmness of spirit. Peace in the Scriptures has to do with a connection, a true union, to God. Such a situation on earth would indeed be the greatest delight!

12. The wicked plots against the just,

We return from this glorious promise of the future to the grim reality of the present. One of the problems that the just constantly face is that the wicked are plotting against them. We can pray that the schemes of the wicked will not succeed, yet there is always the possibility that they will until God steps in.
And gnashes at him with his teeth.

The wicked are set in grim opposition against the just, even to gnashing their teeth at them in their hatred and malignity.

13. The Lord laughs at him,

The LORD is not troubled by the wrath of such a wicked man. Rather, He laughs at him. He does not take the threat of such men seriously, for how can they ever hope to succeed against Him?

The word “Lord” here is not in all capitals in our Bibles, which means that the Hebrew text reads Adonai rather than Jehovah. Yet this is one of the emendations of the Sopherim, those self-appointed editors of Scripture who took up their pens against the Word of God. They seem to not have liked the idea of Jehovah laughing at anyone, and so they changed the name here to Adonai. Yet when God wrote this, He used the name Jehovah, and it is He Who shall laugh at the wicked.

For He sees that his day is coming.

The LORD laughs at the wicked because of the perspective He has upon them. Though they may do much damage and evil in this world, the LORD knows that their day is coming, even the day when their way ceases from off the earth. This is how He looks at it, and this should be our perspective as well. Once we realize this, we will no longer be as troubled at the success of such men. Rather, we will know that their efforts are useless, and that our God will make all things right in His time.

14.  The wicked have drawn the sword

This poetically speaks of the wicked preparing their weapons against the poor, needy, and upright. This does not literally have to mean a sword, but speaks of all the weapons the wicked could bring to bear against the righteous. These weapons so often include words, lying words and twisted thoughts and philosophies that they employ to slander and to trip up the righteous.

And have bent their bow,

Now a bow is used as a figure, again picturing the wicked mustering their weapons to make war against the upright. This reminds us of Psalm 64, where we read, “2. Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, 3. Who sharpen their tongue like a sword, And bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words, 4. That they may shoot in secret at the blameless; Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear.”

To cast down the poor and needy,

Their object is to cast down the poor and needy. These are those who, though they may be righteous, are not protected or able to defend themselves. The wicked always seem to delight in casting down ones like these.

To slay those who are of upright conduct.

They wish to slay those who live their lives uprightly. They may not literally kill them, though sometimes they do, but they could also seek to destroy them by destroying their reputations, or else by leading them astray so that they too become wicked.

15.  Their sword shall enter their own heart,

Now the very weapons that the wicked had prepared against the helpless and the upright are turned against them. Their own heart is now stabbed by these weapons, rather than the heart of those they plotted against. This reminds us again of Psalm 64, where we read, “7. But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; Suddenly they shall be wounded. 8. So He will make them stumble over their own tongue; All who see them shall flee away.” So it will be with wicked men when the time comes that God takes up arms against them.

And their bows shall be broken.

The weapons they used against the upright are broken, never to be used again.

16.  A little that a righteous man has

Many are the righteous in this life who are dissatisfied with how little they have in this world. Yet we should instead focus on what we will receive from God in the world to come.

Is better than the riches of many wicked.

When the ultimate fate of the wicked is considered, all their riches mean little. What they have will pass away, but the riches that God gives will last for the eon.

17.  For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,

The arm is the symbol of strength and power. This tells us why the little of the righteous is better than the plenty of the wicked. It is because the power of the wicked will yet be broken. God will yet act to bring the ways of sinful men to an end.

But the LORD upholds the righteous.

In contrast, the LORD upholds those who are righteous. They will rejoice in that day to come, as Psalm 64:10 states. “The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and trust in Him. And all the upright in heart shall glory.”

18.  The LORD knows the days of the upright,

The word “knows” here speaks of “regarding with affection or favor,” according to the Companion Bible. These “days of the upright” are the days of God’s government on earth, when the wicked will be cut off, and the righteous will flourish. Those days the LORD looks forward to affectionately, and all who love righteousness and truth should look forward to them as well.

And their inheritance shall be forever.

The word “forever” here is for the olam in Hebrew, olam being the Hebrew equivalent to the Greek word aion which means “flow.” The inheritance that the LORD gives the upright will be for the flow. The flow is God’s great, future government. The upright may not have much inheritance in this world, but in that to come, the LORD has an inheritance for them which shall not pass away.

19.  They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,

When times of calamity come upon earth, the upright shall not be ashamed. This might be speaking of this world, where knowing and depending upon the LORD keeps the upright from shame even when things go bad. Yet I believe this is talking about that day to come when God will break the wicked. They will be facing calamity, but the upright will have nothing to fear, and no reason to be ashamed then.

And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

We know that this is often not the case in this world, for the upright go hungry when food is scarce just as much as the wicked do. Yet in that day to come, the LORD will feed the upright, even as the wicked are starving. He will have control of all such things when His kingdom takes control of the earth.

20.  But the wicked shall perish;

In the day when the LORD takes control of the earth, the wicked will perish from off of it. This does not just speak of individuals, but of the very class of men that could be called “wicked.” All such men will be gone, and none on earth will have the character of wickedness.

And the enemies of the LORD,

This is a restatement of the previous line for emphasis, for of course the wicked are the enemies of the LORD.

Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.

Like the splendor of a meadow vanishes in the fall and winter, so these wicked shall vanish. The old King James has “as the fat of lambs” instead of “like the splendor of meadows.” Again, the idea is the fat of lambs being burnt for sacrifice disappearing. This would seem to fit better with the next line. The Amplified Bible has both ideas, and Young’s Literal Version agrees with the old King James. Rotherham agrees with the New King James. Whichever is the case, the idea is clear: that they vanish away like smoke, or like the flowers of the field.

Into smoke they shall vanish away.

As the wood vanishes into smoke, so the wicked will vanish into nothingness.