Psalm 37:3
Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and truly you shall be fed.
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(3) The alphabetic structure helps the poet to make an emphatic threefold exhortation to piety. Trust in Jehovah; commit thy way to Jehovah; rest in Jehovah.

So shalt thou dwell . . .—The Authorised Version is quite right in taking the verbs in this clause as futures. (Comp. Psalm 37:11; Psalm 37:18; Psalm 37:22.) Emigration, when referred to by the prophets (Jeremiah 25:5; Jeremiah 35:15), is always represented as compulsory, and it was a promise of preservation from it, not a warning against it, that the pious Israelite needed.

And verily thou shalt be fed.—Taken literally this promise may be addressed to the Levites, and may contain allusion to their precarious condition, dependent as they were on offerings and tithes, but the Hebrew may also have the meanings: (1) Thou shalt feed on (or enjoy) stability (or security). (Comp. Isaiah 33:6 : “and wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times.”) (2) Thou shalt pasture on faithfulness, i.e., be supported by God’s truth and righteousness as by a rich pasture. (Comp. Psalm 23:1, and, for the expression, Proverbs 15:14, “feedeth on foolishness.”) Possibly both were combined in the psalmist’s thought, for the faithfulness of God is the security of man.

Psalm 37:3. Trust in the Lord — Depend upon God’s promise for thy protection and support, for their infidelity is the root of their wickedness. And do good — Continue in the practice of that which is good and well- pleasing to God. So shalt thou dwell in the land — That is, upon this condition thou shalt dwell in safety and quietness in Canaan, as God had often promised. Hebrew, שׁכן ארצ, dwell in the land, as if it were a command to abide in Canaan when troubles came, and not to flee to the Philistines or other heathen for shelter, as he had foolishly done. But it is rather a promise, as appears by comparing this with Psalm 37:27; Psalm 37:29, such promises being often expressed by imperative verbs put for futures. And verily thou shalt be fed — Hebrew, רעה אמונה, feed, or, thou shalt be fed, (that is, every way provided for,) in truth, that is, truly or assuredly; or with, or by faith, as this word signifies; that is, by thy trusting in the Lord: thou shalt live by faith, as is said Habakkuk 2:4.37:1-6 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.Trust in the Lord - Confide in him; rest on him. Instead of allowing the mind to be disturbed and sad, because there are wicked men upon the earth; because they are prosperous and apparently happy; because they may injure you in your person or reputation Psalm 37:6, calmly confide in God. Leave all this in his hands. Feel that he rules, and that what he permits is wisely permitted; and that whatever may occur, it will all be overruled for his own glory and the good of the universe.

And do good - Be engaged always in some work of benevolence.

(a) If there are wicked men in the world, if wickedness abounds around us, there is the more reason for our endeavoring to do good. If others are doing evil, we should do good; if they are wicked, we cannot do a better work than to do good to them, for the best way of meeting the wickedness of the world is to do it good.

(b) The best way to keep the mind from complaining, chafing, and fretting, is to be always engaged in doing good; to have the mind always occupied in something valuable and useful. Each one should have so much of his own to do that he will have no thee to murmur and complain, to allow the mind to prey on itself, or to "corrode" for lack of employment.

So shalt thou dwell in the land - This would be more correctly translated as a command: "Dwell in the land." That is, abide safely or securely in the land - referring, perhaps, to "the land" as the land of promise - the country given to the people of God. The idea is, that they should abide there calmly and securely; that they should not worry themselves because there were wicked men upon the earth, and because they were successful, but that they should be thankful for their inheritance, and partake gratefully of the bounties which they receive from the hand of God. Compare the notes at Matthew 5:5.

And verily thou shalt be fed - Margin, "in truth or stableness." The "literal" meaning would be, "Feed on truth." The word rendered "fed" is here in the imperative mood. It properly means to feed, as a flock; and then, to feed upon anything in the sense of delighting in, or taking pleasure in anything, as if we found our support or sustenance in it; and here it means, doubtless, "Feed on truth;" that is, seek after truth; find delight in it; let it be the food of your souls. The word here rendered "verily" means, as in the margin, "truth:" and the meaning is, that they should seek after truth, and find their support and comfort in that. There are, then, in this verse, four things prescribed as duty, in order to keep the mind calm in view of the fact that wickedness abounds in the world:

(1) to confide in God;

(2) to be actively employed in doing good;

(3) to abide calmly and gratefully in the land which God has given us;

(4) to seek after truth, or a true view of the character and government of God as the great Ruler.

If people would do these things, there would be little complaining and fretting in the world.

3. Trust—sure of safety.

shalt thou dwell—or, "dwell thou"; repose quietly.

verily … fed—or, "feed on truth," God's promise (Ps 36:5; compare Ho 12:1).

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily shalt be fed.

"Trust in the Lord." Here is the second precept, and one appropriate to the occasion. Faith cures fretting. Sight is cross-eyed, and views things only as they seem, hence her envy; faith has clearer optics to behold things as they really are, hence her peace. "And do good." True faith is actively obedient. Doing good is a fine remedy for fretting. There is a joy in holy activity which drives away the rust of discontent. "So shalt thou dwell in the land." In "the land" which floweth with milk and honey; the Canaan of the covenant. Thou shalt not wander in the wilderness of murmuring, but abide in the promised land of content and rest. "We which have believed do enter into rest." Very much of our outward depends upon the inward; where there is heaven in the heart there will be heaven in the house. "And verily thou shall be fed," or shepherded. To integrity and faith necessaries are guaranteed. The good shepherd will exercise his pastoral care over all believers. In truth they shall be fed, and fed on truth. The promise of God shall be their perpetual banquet; they shall neither lack in spirituals nor in temporals. Some read this as an exhortation, "Feed on truth;" certainly this is good cheer, and banishes for ever the hungry heart-burnings of envy.

Trust in the Lord; depend upon God’s providence and promise for thy protection and sustentation, for their infidelity is the root of their wickedness.

Do good; continue in the practice of that which is good and well-pleasing to God.

So shalt thou dwell in the land, i.e. upon this condition shalt dwell safely and quietly in Canaan; as God had oft promised. In the Hebrew it is, dwell in the land, as if, it were a command to abide in Canaan when troubles come, and not to flee to the Philistines or other heathens for shelter, as he had foolishly done. But it is rather a promise, by comparing this with Psalm 37:27,29; such promises being oft expressed by imperative verbs put for futures, as Genesis 12:2 42:18 Psalm 128:6 Amos 5:4.

Verily thou shalt be fed, Heb. thou shalt be fed (i.e. every way provided for) in truth, i.e. truly or assuredly; or with or by faith, as this word signifies, i. e. by thy trusting in the Lord; thou shalt live by thy faith, as is said, Habakkuk 2:4. Trust in the Lord,.... Not in men, who are fading and perishing like the green grass and tender herb; nor in riches, which are very uncertain things; but in the Lord, in whom is everlasting strength; and with whom are riches and honour, yea, durable riches and righteousness; trust in him both for things temporal and spiritual, for soul and body, for time and eternity; the way to have peace and quietness of mind under all dispensations is to exercise faith on a promising God. The Targum is, "trust in the Word of the Lord", in the essential Word of God, the promised Messiah;

and do good; in general, all good actions, in faith, and as the fruits and effects of it, without trusting to them, but in the Lord; doing them in his strength, and with a view to his glory; or in particular, acts of beneficence to the poor, to which the encouragement follows;

so shalt thou dwell in the land; either in the land of Canaan, a continuance in which depended upon the obedience of the people of the Jews to the commands of God; see Isaiah 1:19; or rather in the good land which is afar off, the heavenly and better country, which those that trust in the Lord, and have that faith in Christ which works by love, shall dwell in to all eternity;

and verily thou shalt be fed; either temporally, shall have food and raiment, even all the necessaries of life; or spiritually, with the word and ordinances, and with Christ the bread of life now; and hereafter shall be fed by him, the Lamb in the midst of the throne, and by him led to fountains of living water: some read the words as an exhortation, and render them, "feed truth" (k), that is, teach it, as Abraham taught his household, and as faithful pastors feed with knowledge and understanding; or "feed by faith" (l), as the just live by it; or, as the Targum renders it, "be strong in faith", as Abraham was, Romans 4:20; or rather, "feed upon truth" (m), the word of truth, the Gospel of salvation, and the several truths and doctrines of it, which are food for faith, and nourish up to everlasting life.

(k) "pasce veritatem", Pagninus, Montanus. (l) "Pascere fide", Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius. (m) "Pasce te veritate", Gejerus; "ut alimentum tuum", Gussetius, Ebr. Comment. p. 942. "feed on faith", Ainsworth.

{c} Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

(c) To trust in God and do according to his will are sure signs that his providence will never fail us.

3, 4. Stanza of Beth. The antidote to envious discontent is patient trust in Jehovah, and perseverance in the path of duty. Render

Trust in Jehovah, and do good;

Dwell in the land, and follow after faithfulness:

So shalt thou delight thyself in Jehovah,

And he shall grant thee thy heart’s petitions.

Remain in the land of promise where God has placed thee: “the land of Jehovah’s presence, which has not only a glorious past, but a future rich in promise, and will finally become the inheritance of the true Israel in a more complete manner than under Joshua” (Delitzsch): there, and there alone, shalt thou find thy true satisfaction in Him. It would seem that the poorer Israelites, oppressed or driven from their homes by powerful neighbours (Psalm 36:11), were tempted to seek their fortunes in foreign lands, and forfeit their national and religious privileges. Cp. 1 Samuel 26:19.

Here, as in Psalm 37:9; Psalm 37:11; Psalm 37:22; Psalm 37:29; Psalm 37:34, the land is Canaan, the land of promise. The rendering of A.V. in Psalm 37:9; Psalm 37:11; Psalm 37:22, the earth, is misleading so far as the primary meaning of the Psalm is concerned.

It is best to take Psalm 37:3 as virtually a series of conditions in the form of exhortations, and Psalm 37:4 as the promise depending on the fulfilment of the conditions. The A.V. so shalt thou dwell, &c., is inadmissible on grammatical grounds: and though it is possible to render Delight thyself also &c., in Psalm 37:4, the balance of the clauses, and the parallels in Job 22:26, Isaiah 58:14 are decisive in favour of the rendering, so shalt thou delight thyself &c. The renderings of the last clause of Psalm 37:3, verily thou shalt be fed, or, feed securely (R.V. marg.) are in themselves questionable, and fall to the ground when the true construction of the verses is adopted. With follow after faithfulness (R.V.) cp. Psalm 119:30 (R.V.).Verse 3. - Trust in the Lord, and do good. Notwithstanding any difficulty which the prosperity of the wicked causes thee, trust thou still in the Lord; be sure that his providence watches over thee, and endeavour still to serve him by "doing good." So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed; rather, dwell in the land, and feed on faithfulness (Kay); i.e. remain where thou art, and be satisfied with the thought of God's faithfulness. Feed on this. (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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