The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
and their inheritance will endure for ever.
In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
But the wicked will perish:
though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed.
The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,(Ps. 37:12-26 NIV)
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.
Wickedness is not just a spontaneous event, it is premeditated. The wicked actually plot and plan the evil they intend to inflict upon the righteous. They have an obsession with evil and they hate the good. Gnashing of teeth expresses the sense of rage that they have against God’s people. But their plotting and scheming will come to nought. The Lord laughs at the audacity of the wicked. They feel that they are achieving something significant and lasting but the Lord knows that their day to give an account is coming soon. The wicked use every scheme and plot described by the Psalmist as drawing the sword or bending the bow. The weapons can be both literal and figurative for the Psalmist, but in our day in the UK at this time the figurative meaning is more appropriate for us. These weapons symbolise the strength and abuse of power of the wicked. They exploit the poor and the needy. The goal that they wish to achieve is to have injustice inscribed in law. They are looking to completely defeat the righteous and make living the godly life as difficult a pathway as possible. Poetic justice is achieved as they are hoist by their own petard, their own swords will pierce their hearts and their bows will be broken.
The result of the exploitation by the wicked means the righteous will have little, but better this little than the wealth of the wicked achieved by their ill-gotten gain. The stranglehold that the wicked have on power will be broken as they are defeated by their own scheming. The Lord upholds the righteous. The Lord knows all our days, He knows what happens to us throughout every moment. The inheritance that is covenanted to the Lord’s people is secured and will last forever.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.(1 Pet. 1:3-5 NIV)
However, the wicked, what they are and what they have will vanish like a puff of smoke. Their prosperity was beautiful in its moment, but like the flower of the field it flourishes for a moment and then it is gone. But in times of famine or disaster the Lord’s people have a secure inheritance, but the wicked will perish.
The generosity of the righteous is compared to the greed and dishonesty of the wicked, who borrow but do not repay what they owe.
The blessings of the covenant will be upon the righteous who will ultimately inherit the land, but the wicked will bear the curse of the covenant and be destroyed.
In v23-26 the focus shifts to the blessedness of the righteous. Throughout our lives there will be times when we stumble. We can stumble because of sin, because of weakness, because of envy of the wicked, or because of the traps that the wicked set for us, but the Lord protects us from falling. The Lord upholds us with His hand. He watches over our days. He is always there to help us when we cannot help ourselves. The Psalmist speaks from his years of experience, from youth to later in life. He testifies that he has never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread. Of the little that the righteous have, they share with others as the Lord provides. In fulfilment of the covenant promise, the Lord blesses the children of His people.
Lord we thank You for Your provision for Your people. When we stumble in life, as surely as we will because of our weakness, we thank You that Your guardian eye is upon us and You put out Your hand to catch us, steady us and uphold us. Lord we rejoice that we can look back over our lives and see Your faithfulness to us. Lord we thank You for Your loving care in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.