Righteous Refugees | Psalm 37 Lesson [Slideshow+]

Is Psalm 1 True?

Psalm 1, as we have discussed in a sermon (or two) and a Bible Study, makes it clear that the faithful will prosper and the wicked will be destroyed. But what happens when it seems that Psalm 1 isn’t true?1

In fact, many psalms of lament between Psalm 1 and Psalm 37 may suggest that Psalm 1 might not be true.2 (cf. Psalm 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 17, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 35, etc.)3

However, Like Psalms 73, 91, 119, etc., Psalm 37 acknowledges that though there may be evidence to the contrary, Psalm 1 will be confirmed in the long run.4

Proverbs From A-Z

Psalm 37 is an acrostic psalm:5: each section (mostly) begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.6 Its alphabetical structure was likely a mnemonic device to help people memorize.7

Psalm 37 is a wisdom psalm meant to instruct8– like the Book of Proverbs.9 In fact, it is basically a collection of proverbs.10

Proverbs are generally not meant to be isolated, comprehensive claims. Proverbs modify and clarify each other as tensions emerge.11

The classic example: Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him (Pr 26:4, NIV).12 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. (Pr 26:5, NIV).13

These proverbs, placed right next to each other, demonstrate how proverbs are generally not blanket statements that do not allow for exceptions.

Moreover, it takes wisdom to know when to apply various proverbs to various circumstances. For “like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool” (Pr 26:9, NIV cf. Pr 26:7).

An Echo/Defense of Psalm 1

Psalm 1 and Psalm 37 share similar vocabulary and themes. Both speak of delighting in the LORD/His law (i.e., teaching, instruction), the way of the wicked vs the way of the righteous, etc. Both even use a tree metaphor (cf. Ps 1:3; Ps 37:35-36).14

Psalm 37 provides instruction on how to live an upright and God-fearing life – even when the wicked apparently prosper.15

Like in Psalm 1, there is a basic choice between two ways/paths. And, “being wicked seems like the stupidest choice one can make. You may choose to trust in God and inherit the land or forsake God, trust yourself, and disappear!” 16

Please find the main points, slideshow, and bibliography below:

Main Points

  • What should we do when the wicked seem to prosper? 17 – often more than the faithful and at their expense… 18
  • Drop anger; trust God. Delight in and be committed to God. Be still before and wait for the LORD. 19
  • Better to have little and be faithful 20. The wicked’s wickedness will boomerang. They’ll be cut off 21. Their time is short. 22
  • The faithless will fall and the faithful will be saved.23 The faithful will be able to live in 24 their land – not build themselves an empire (cf. Mt 6:33).25
  • May not look like it in the short run, but things will work out in the long run 26
  • Under the New Covenant, we are not promised physical land. But, even better, we will dwell in the New Jerusalem with the LORD forever (Rev 3:12, 21:2).27
  • Hope in the LORD and keep His way; salvation comes from the LORD! 28 “Psalm 1 is true – in the end” in God’s time (cf. Ps 90:4).29

Slideshow

To download a .PDF version of this PowerPoint presentation, please click here.

Bibliography

  • Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977.
  • Broyles, Craig C. Psalms. Edited by W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., and Robert K. Johnston. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012.
  • Craigie, Peter C. Psalms 1–50. 2nd ed. Vol. 19. Word Biblical Commentary. Nashville, TN: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.
  • Davis, Barry C. in Burge, Gary M., and Andrew E. Hill, eds. The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012.
  • Dunn, James D. G., and John W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003.
  • Futato, Mark D., and George M. Schwab. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 7: The Book of Psalms, The Book of Proverbs. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009.
  • Goldingay, John. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms 1–41. Edited by Tremper Longman III. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.
  • Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999.
  • Hilber, John in Walton, John H. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Vol. 5. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.
  • Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 15. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973.
  • Koehler, Ludwig, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson, and Johann Jakob Stamm. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000.
  • Kraus, Hans-Joachim. A Continental Commentary: Psalms 1–59. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993.
  • Longman, Tremper, III. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. Edited by David G. Firth. Vol. 15–16. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2014.
  • Matthews, Victor Harold, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. Electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
  • Motyer, J. A. “The Psalms.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 485–583. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
  • Tanner, Beth. “Book One of the Psalter: Psalms 1–41.” In The Book of Psalms, edited by E. J. Young, R. K. Harrison, and Robert L. Hubbard Jr. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014.
  • VanGemeren, Willem A. “Psalms.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition), edited by Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, Vol. 5. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.
  • VanGemeren, Willem, ed. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997.
  • Wilcock, Michael. The Message of Psalms: Songs for the People of God. Edited by J. A. Motyer. The Bible Speaks Today. Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2001.

Sources

  1. Goldingay, 517; Futato, 144
  2. Goldingay, 517
  3. “Although there is a lack of agreement regarding detail and the inclusion or exclusion of specific psalms, the following psalms are classified as individual laments: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 17, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 35, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 51, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 63, 64, 69, 70, 71, 77, 86, 88, 102, 109, 120, 130, 140, 141, 142, and 143. These psalms represent more than a quarter of the psalter.”

    Willem S. Prinsloo, “The Psalms,” in Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, ed. James D. G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003), 367.

  4. cf. Goldingay, 517
  5. Craigie, 296; Hilber, 352; Longman, 177; Motyer, 509; Wilcock, 127; Tanner, 348; VanGemeren, 341
  6. Kidner, 166; Futato, 144
  7. Craigie, 296; Wilcock, 127; VanGemeren, 341
  8. Futato, 144
  9. Craigie, 296; Goldingay, 517; Kidner, 166; Wilcock, 127; Tanner, 348; cf. Longman, 177; VanGemeren, 340
  10. Craigie, 296 cf. Goldingay, 517
  11. Broyles, 183
  12. Broyles, 183
  13. Broyles, 183
  14. Goldingay, 517 cf. Wilcock, 128; Tanner, 348
  15. Craigie, 297; Goldingay, 518; Longman, 177; Futato, 144; Tanner, 348
  16. Tanner, 353
  17. Craigie, 299
  18. Goldingay, 533
  19. Goldingay, 533
  20. Goldingay, 533
  21. Goldingay, 533
  22. Davis, 510
  23. Craigie, 299; Goldingay, 533; Broyles, 182
  24. and off of
  25. Goldingay, 534; cf. Mt 19:29; Kidner, 169; VanGemeren, 342
  26. cf. Job; Goldingay, 534
  27. Longman, 181 cf. Wilcock, 133
  28. Longman, 181
  29. Futato, 145
About @DannyScottonJr 185 Articles
Imperfect servant striving to be an unapologetically apologetic ambassador for Jesus the Christ. Princeton University Alum | Palmer Theological Seminary Student