|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
37:1-6 When we look abroad we see the world full of evil-doers, that flourish and live in ease. So it was seen of old, therefore let us not marvel at the matter. We are tempted to fret at this, to think them the only happy people, and so we are prone to do like them: but this we are warned against. Outward prosperity is fading. When we look forward, with an eye of faith, we shall see no reason to envy the wicked. Their weeping and wailing will be everlasting. The life of religion is a believing trust in the Lord, and diligent care to serve him according to his will. It is not trusting God, but tempting him, if we do not make conscience of our duty to him. A man's life consists not in abundance, but, Thou shalt have food convenient for thee. This is more than we deserve, and it is enough for one that is going to heaven. To delight in God is as much a privilege as a duty. He has not promised to gratify the appetites of the body, and the humours of the fancy, but the desires of the renewed, sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and serve God. Commit thy way unto the Lord; roll thy way upon the Lord, so the margin reads it. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, the burden of thy care. We must roll it off ourselves, not afflict and perplex ourselves with thoughts about future events, but refer them to God. By prayer spread thy case and all thy cares before the Lord, and trust in him. We must do our duty, and then leave the event with God. The promise is very sweet: He shall bring that to pass, whatever it is, which thou has committed to him.
Verse 1. - Fret not thyself because of evildoers. According to Aristotle, we have a special emotion implanted in our nature - νέμεσις - which causes us to "fret" when we witness undeserved prosperity ('Rhet.,' 2:9, § 1). Certainly the feeling is very common and very strong; it is also characteristic of the best natures (see Psalm 73:3-14; Job 21:7-15; Jeremiah 12:1, 2; Malachi 3:15). The feeling does not need to be eradicated, but only to be held in check. Faith in God's retributive justice will enable us calmly to await "the end" (Psalm 73:17), in full assurance that ultimately God's vengeance will overtake the wicked man, and he will receive condign punishment. Neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. Envy is not a natural passion. To envy the evil-doers on account of their prosperity is at once a folly and a danger. Their position is really not enviable; and, if we allow ourselves to envy them, we shall be tempted to follow their example (see Proverbs 24:1).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Fret not thyself because of evildoers,.... The saints may be grieved at them and for them, because of their evil doings, and may be angry with them for them; yet are not to show any undue warmth, at least in an indecent way, by calling them opprobrious names; for the words may be rendered, "do not show thyself warm" or "angry" (i): in a sinful way; or fret not at their outward prosperity, as it is explained Psalm 37:7. The Targum adds, "to be like them", which agrees with Psalm 37:8;
neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity; that is, at their present temporal happiness; see Psalm 73:3. The Targum adds, as before, to be joined with them; which sense some parallel places seem to incline to, Proverbs 3:31.
(i) "ne accendaris ira", Junius & Tremellius; "ne exardescas", Gejerus, Michaelis.
The Treasury of David
1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
The Psalm opens with the first precept. It is alas! too common for believers in their hours of adversity to think themselves harshly dealt with when they see persons utterly destitute of religion and honesty, rejoicing in abundant prosperity. Much needed is the command, "Fret not thyself because of evildoers." To fret is to worry, to have the heart-burn, to fume, to become vexed. Nature is very apt to kindle a fire of jealousy when it sees law-breakers riding on horses, and obedient subjects walking in the mire: it is a lesson learned only in the school of grace, when one comes to view the most paradoxical providences with the devout complacency of one who is sure that the Lord is righteous in all his acts. It seems hard to carnal judgments that the best meat should go to the dogs, while loving children pine for want of it. "Neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity." The same advice under another shape. When one is poor, despised, and in deep trial, our old Adam naturally becomes envious of the rich and great; and when we are conscious that we have been more righteous than they, the devil is sure to be at hand with blasphemous reasonings. Stormy weather may curdle even the cream of humanity. Evil men instead of being envied, are to be viewed with horror and aversion; yet their loaded tables, and gilded trappings, are too apt to fascinate our poor haft-opened eyes. Who envies the fat bullock the ribbons and garlands which decorate him as he is led to the shambles? Yet the case is a parallel one; for ungodly rich men are but as beasts fattened for the slaughter.
"For they shall soon be cut down like the grass." The scythe of death is sharpening. Green grows the grass, but quick comes the scythe. The destruction of the ungodly will be speedy, sudden, sure, overwhelming, irretrievable. The grass cannot resist or escape the mower. "And wither as the green herb." The beauty of the herb dries up at once in the heat of the sun, and so all the glory of the wicked shall disappear at the hour of death. Death kills the ungodly man like grass, and wrath withers him like hay; he dies, and his name rots. How complete an end is made of the man whose boasts had no end! Is it worth while to waste ourselves in fretting about the insect of an hour, an ephemera which in the same day is born and dies? Within believers there is a living and incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever; why should they envy mere flesh, and the glory of it, which are but as grass, and the flower thereof?
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 37:1-40. A composed and uniform trust in God and a constant course of integrity are urged in view of the blessedness of the truly pious, contrasted in various aspects with the final ruin of the wicked. Thus the wisdom and justice of God's providence are vindicated, and its seeming inequalities, which excite the cavils of the wicked and the distrust of the pious, are explained. David's personal history abundantly illustrates the Psalm.
1, 2. The general sentiment of the whole Psalm is expressed. The righteous need not be vexed by the prosperity of the wicked; for it is transient, and their destiny undesirable.
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