Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt you to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Psalm 37:34. Wait on the Lord — Seeking and trusting to him, and to him only, for help and deliverance. And keep his way — Continue in the practice of thy duty, or in those ways which God hath prescribed to thee in his word, and do not use indirect and irregular means to deliver thyself. When the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it — Thou shalt not only escape the destruction they designed for thee, but shalt live to see their ruin.Psalm 37:9. Let your hope be from the Lord; depend wholly upon Him; have such confidence in Him as to expect His gracious interposition in your behalf.
And keep his way - Or, walk in the path which He commands. Do not turn from that at any thee. Do not allow any temptation, or any opposition, to cause you to swerve from that path.
When the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it - This implies that they would certainly be cut off, and that the righteous would be permitted to see the result of a course of righteousness and one of wickedness. It is not necessarily implied that they would have any satisfaction in seeing the punishment of the wicked; but the meaning is, that they would be permitted to live so as to see that one course of life tended to secure the favor of God, and another to incur His displeasure; that there was an advantage in virtue and religion in this life; and the certainty that they would see this is adverted to as a "motive" for leading a life of piety. The result is so sure that a man may, if he live long, see it himself; and the fact that this is so should be an inducement for his leading a holy life. The psalmist proceeds, in Psalm 37:35-36, to illustrate this idea from his own observation.
35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the end of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord; he is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.
"Wait on the Lord." We have here the eighth precept, and it is a lofty eminence to attain to. Tarry the Lord's leisure. Wait in obedience as a servant, in hope as an heir, in expectation as a believer. This little word "wait" is easy to say, but hard to carry out, yet faith must do it. "And keep his way." Continue in the narrow path; let no haste for riches or ease cause unholy action. Let your motto be, "On, on, on," Never flag, or dream of turning aside. "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." "And he shall exalt thee to inherit the land." Thou shalt have all of earthly good which is really good, and of heavenly good there shall be no stint. Exaltation shall be the lot of the excellent. "When the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it." A sight how terrible and how instructive! What a rebuke for fretfulness! what an incentive to gratitude! My soul, be still, as thou foreseest the end, the awful end of the Lord's enemies.
A second time David turns to his diary, and this time in poetic imagery tells us of what he had observed. It were well if we too took notes of divine providences. "I have seen the wicked in great power." The man was terrible to others, ruling with much authority, and carrying things with a high hand, a Caesar in might, a Croesus in wealth. "And spreading himself like a green bay tree." Adding house to house and field to field, rising higher and higher in the state. He seemed to be ever verdant like a laurel, he grew as a tree in its own native soil, from which it had never been transplanted. No particular tree is here meant, a spreading beech or a wide expanding oak may serve us to realise the picture; it is a thing of earth, whose roots are in the clay; its honours are fading leaves; and though its shadow dwarfs the plants which are condemned to pine beneath it, yet it is itself a dying thing, as the feller's axe shall prove. In the noble tree, which claims to be king of the forest, behold the grandeur of the ungodly today; wait awhile and wonder at the change, as the timber is carried away, and the very root torn from the ground.
"Yet he passed away." Tree and man both gone, the son of man as surely as the child of the forest. What clean sweeps death makes! "And lo, he was not." To the surprise of all men the great man was gone, his estates sold, his business bankrupt, his house alienated, his name forgotten, and all in a few months! "Yea, I sought him, but he could not be found." Moved by curiosity, if we enquire for the ungodly, they have left no trace; like birds of ill omen none desire to remember them. Some of the humblest of the godly are immortalised, their names are imperishably fragrant in the church, while of the ablest of infidels and blasphemers hardly their names are remembered beyond a few years. Men who were in everybody's mouths but yesterday are forgotten tomorrow, for only virtue is immortal.
continued...Wait on the Lord; seeking and trusting to him, and to him only, for help and deliverance.
Keep his way; continue in the practice of thy duty, or in those ways which God hath prescribed to thee in his word, and do not use indirect and irregular means to deliver thyself.
Thou shalt see it; thou shalt not only escape the destruction which they design for thee, but shalt live to see their ruin. Psalm 73:16; and in a providential way, for the performance of his promises, in which he never fails; and patiently bear whatever he is pleased to lay upon them; waiting for a deliverance out of every affliction, which will be in his own time. The Chaldee paraphrase
"trust in the word of the Lord;''
and keep his way: which he has pointed out in his word, and has directed his people to walk in; though tempted by Satan to turn aside to the right hand or the left; though wicked men reproach, persecute, and seek to pervert it; and though a narrow and rough way, yet keep constantly in it, in which there are both pleasure and profit; good comes of it, and in it peace is had, and the presence of God enjoyed;
and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: that is, shall raise out of a low and uncomfortable situation of life to a more comfortable one; or however, hereafter, to dwell in the new heavens and new earth, to reign with Christ upon his throne, and to enjoy the eternal inheritance;
when the wicked are cut off; as in Psalm 37:9;
thou shall see it; with joy and pleasure; not as exulting: in the destruction of the wicked, simply considered; but as the glory of divine justice is displayed therein; see Psalm 52:5.Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)34. Stanza of Qoph. The Psalmist again addresses his disciple.
For a while he may be crushed and down-trodden, but ultimately he will be exalted and the wicked cut off.
keep his way] Cp. Psalm 37:33, note; Psalm 18:21.
thou shall see it] With satisfaction at the vindication of God’s righteous government. Cp. Psalm 52:6; Psalm 58:10-11. See Introd. p. xci.Verse 34. - Wait on the lord (comp. vers. 2, 5, 7; and Psalm 27:14; Psalm 62:5; Psalm 130:5; Proverbs 20:22). The injunction is repeated so often because of man's extreme impatience and unwillingness to "tarry the Lord's leisure" (Prayer-book Version of Psalm 27:16) trustfully and confidently. And keep his way. The way in which he would have them walk - the way of righteousness (comp. ver. 3). And he shall exalt thee to inherit the land (see ver. 29, and the comment ad loc.). When the ungodly are cut off, thou shalt see it (comp. Psalm 52:5, 6; Psalm 91:8). Doubtless with some satisfaction. As the "ungodly" spoken of are employed in watching for an occasion to "slay" the righteous (ver. 32), these last can scarcely witness their removal from the world by God's providence without a feeling of relief. Isaiah 29:20; by ἄνομα, עולה in Job 27:4; and by ἐκδιώκειν, הצמית, the synonym of השׁמיד, in Psalm 101:5; so that consequently this line, as even Venema and Schleusner have discerned, was עוּלים נשׁמדוּ. It will at once be seen that this is only another reading for לעולם נשׁמרו; and, since it stands side by side with the latter, that it is an ancient attempt to produce a correct beginning for the ע strophe, which has been transplanted from the lxx into the text. It is, however, questionable whether this reparation is really a restoration of the original words (Hupfeld, Hitzig); since עוּל (עויל) is not a word found in the Psalms (for which reason Bצttcher's conjecture of עשׁי עולה more readily commends itself, although it is critically less probable), and לעולם נשׁמרו forms a continuation that is more naturally brought about by the context and perfectly logical.
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