Psalm 37:2
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
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(2) For they . . .—This inevitable metaphor for the brevity of human life, made still more forcible in an Eastern clime where vegetation is so rapid both in growth and decay, and generally in the Bible applied, without distinction of good or bad, with a mournful sigh over human weakness, becomes here a source of comfort to the godly man.

Green herb.—Literally, greenness of herbage.

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.For they shall soon be cut down like the grass - As the grass in the field is cut down by the mower; that is, however prosperous they may seem to be now, they are like the grass in the meadow which is so green and luxuriant, but which is soon to fall under the scythe of the mower. Their prosperity is only temporary, for they will soon pass away. The idea in the word rendered "soon" - מהרה mehêrâh - is that of "haste" or "speed:" Psalm 147:15; Numbers 16:46; Deuteronomy 11:17. The thought is not that it will be done immediately, but that "when" it occurs it will be a quick and rapid operation - as the grass falls rapidly before the mower.

And wither as the green herb - When it is cut down. That is, not as the dry and stinted shrub that grows in the desert of sand, but like the herb that grows in a garden, or in a marsh, or by the river, that is full of juices, and that needs abundant water to sustain it - like the flag or rush (compare Job 8:11) - and that withers almost instantly when it is cut down. The rapidity with which things "wilt" is in proportion to the rapidity of their growth, so the prosperity of a sinner is suddenly blasted, and he passes away. Compare Psalm 90:5-6.


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.

For their happiness, the matter of thy envy, is but shortlived. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Which in the morning looks green, pretty, and flourishing, and in the evening is cut down, and then fades away; see Psalm 90:5; and so the wicked prosper and flourish for a while, and then they perish with all their honour, riches, and wealth; so that their happiness is a very short lived one, and therefore need not be envied and fretted at. For they shall soon be {b} cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

(b) For God's judgment cuts down their state in a moment.

2. The grass and the green herb are a common image for what is transient and perishable. See note on Psalm 37:20; and cp. Psalm 90:5 f.; Psalm 103:15 f.; Isaiah 40:6 ff.

be cut down] Or, fade. Cp. Job 14:2; Job 18:16 (R.V. marg.).Verse 2. - For they shall soon be cut down like the grass. So Zophar, in the Book of Job (Job 20:5), "The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment." And, no doubt, if we compare time with eternity, the longest triumph that the wicked ever enjoy is but for a brief space, is soon gone, endures "but for a moment." It has a continuance, however, which to men in this life seems long, often intolerably long; and hence the disturbance which men's minds suffer on account of it (Job 21:7, 13; Psalm 73:3-16). And wither as the green herb (comp. Psalm 90:5, 6; Psalm 103:15; Isaiah 40:6, 7; James 1:10, 11; 1 Peter 1:24). (Heb.: 36:6-10) The poet now turns from this repulsive prospect to one that is more pleasing. He contemplates, and praises, the infinite, ever sure mercy of God, and the salvation, happiness, and light which spring from it. Instead of בּשּׁמים, the expression is בּהשּׁמים, the syncope of the article not taking place. בּ alternating with עד, cf. Psalm 57:11, has here, as in Psalm 19:5; Psalm 72:16, the sense of touching or reaching to the spot that is denoted in connection with it. The poet describes the exaltation and super-eminence of divine mercy and faithfulness figuratively, after earthly standards. They reveal themselves on earth in a height that reaches to the heavens and extends to שׁחקים, i.e., the thin veil of vapour which spreads itself like a veil over the depths of the heavens; they transcend all human thought, desire, and comprehension (Psalm 103:11, and cf. Ephesians 3:18). The צדקה (righteousness) is distinguished from the אמונה (faithfulness) thus: the latter is governed by the promises of God, the former by His holiness; and further, the latter has its being in the love of God, the former, on the other hand, manifests itself partly as justifying in mercies, and partly as avenging in wrath. Concerning the righteousness, the poet says that it is like the mountains of God, i.e., (cf. cedars of God, Psalm 80:11) unchangeably firm (Psalm 111:3), like the giant primeval mountains which bear witness to the greatness and glory of God; concerning God's judgments, that they are "a great deep," incomprehensible and unsearchable (ἀνεξερεύνηται, Romans 11:33) as the great, deep-surging mass of waters in the lower parts of the earth, which becomes visible in the seas and in the rivers. God's punitive righteousness, as at length becomes evident, has His compassion for its reverse side; and this, as in the case of the Flood (cf. Jonah 4:11), embraces the animal world, which is most closely involved, whether for weal or for woe, with man, as well as mankind.

Lost in this depth, which is so worthy of adoration, the Psalmist exclaims: How precious (cf. Psalm 139:17) is Thy mercy, Elohim! i.e., how valuable beyond all treasures, and how precious to him who knows how to prize it! The Waw of וּבני is the explicative Waw equals et hoc ipsum quod. The energetic form of the future, יחסיוּן, has the pre-tonic Kametz, here in pause, as in Psalm 36:8; Psalm 39:7; Psalm 78:44. The shadow of God's wings is the protection of His love, which hides against temptation and persecution. To be thus hidden in God is the most unspeakable blessedness, Psalm 36:9 : they satiate themselves, they drink full draughts of "the fatness of Thy house." The house of God is His sanctuary, and in general the domain of His mercy and grace. דּשׁן (cf. טוּב, Psalm 65:5) is the expression for the abundant, pleasant, and powerful gifts and goods and recreations with which God entertains those who are His; and רוה (whence ירוין, as in Deuteronomy 8:13; Isaiah 40:18) is the spiritual joy of the soul that experiences God's mercy to overflowing. The abundant fare of the priests from Jahve's table (vid., Jeremiah 31:14), and the festive joy of the guests at the shelamim-offering, i.e., the communion-offering, - these outward rites are here treated according to their spiritual significance, receive the depth of meaning which radically belongs to them, and are ideally generalized. It is a stream of pleasures (עדנים) with which He irrigates and fertilizes them, a paradisaic river of delights. This, as the four arms of the river of Paradise had one common source (Genesis 2:10), has its spring in God, yea, God is the fountain itself. He is "the fountain of life" (Jeremiah 2:13); all life flows forth from Him, who is the absolutely existing and happy One. The more inwardly, therefore, one is joined to Him, the fuller are the draughts of life which he drinks from this first fountain of all life. And as God is the fountain of life, so also is He the fountain of light: "In Thy light do we see light;" out of God, seeing we see only darkness, whereas immersed in God's sea of light we are illumined by divine knowledge, and lighted up with spiritual joy. The poet, after having taken a few glimpses into the chaos of evil, here moves in the blessed depths of holy mysticism [Mystik, i.e., mysticism in the good sense - true religion, vital godliness], and in proportion as in the former case his language is obscure. So here it is clear as crystal.

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