Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land for ever.
For the Lord loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
the offspring of the wicked will perish.
The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it for ever.
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.
The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;(Ps. 37:27-40 NIV)
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
V27 is a reminder of the need that the people of God have to repent of their sin and do good. We are offered some explanation as to the nature of repentance. The Psalmist says we are to turn from evil. Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin that leads to an about turn to go in a different way. The different way here is the wise way of doing good. The land promise is made again. The promise is for an eternal possession of the land.
The Lord loves those who choose the wise way to live because this is the just way. The promise often found in Scripture and found here is that the Lord will not forsake His people.
The Psalmist turns his attention again to consider the wicked or wrongdoer. Remember this is a wisdom Psalm, and so the way of the wicked is compared to the way of the wise. The comparison is made here because the Psalmist has had his eye and mind on the prosperity of the wicked, and so he is reminded of the destiny of the wicked to reassure him that the Judge of all the earth will surely do the right thing. The curse upon the wrongdoer is complete destruction. The language is strong because this reflects the view that God has of sin. The wicked are offered no hope, even their offspring will perish. The wicked will not have a legacy. Of course, with every judgement in the OT there is the understanding of the possibility of repentance (Nineveh in the book of Jonah). The wicked can turn from their evil way and repent and receive mercy from the Lord.
The Psalmist repeats the land promise quite frequently in this Psalm. When we are struggling with the problem of why the wicked seem to prosper, we need constant reminders and reassurance that the ultimate possession of reward is for those who live the wise way and take refuge in the Lord.
I have hidden your word in my heart(Ps. 119:11 NIV)
that I might not sin against you.
The Lord also writes His law upon our hearts
‘This is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel(Jer. 31:33 NIV)
after that time,’ declares the Lord.
‘I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
‘This is the covenant I will make with them(Heb. 10:16 NIV)
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.’
Because the law of God is in our heart our feet will not slip, and the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Matt 12:34). The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom and what is just. Going back to Psalm 1:2:
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,(Ps. 1:2 NIV)
and who meditates on his law day and night.
We see from Psalm 1 that the wise meditate upon the law of the Lord day and night. When we meditate upon God’s Word in a constant way like this, it influences what we think and say.
Those who walk the way of the wicked do not just have an independent lifestyle, they actually engage in opposing the righteous. They attempt to ambush the righteous, moving by stealth to try to put the righteous to death. ‘Putting to death’ is like a category of harm where the ultimate infliction is death. The righteous receive many inflictions from the wicked, and in some countries Christians pay the ultimate price for their faith, as the death penalty is inflicted upon them. But the Lord does not abandon His people, they will not be left subject to the power of the wicked and God will defend His people when they are put in trial. But we know that Christians have been tried and found guilty because of their faith by those courts that our hostile to the faith. But that is not the end. In the final assize, the Lord will vindicate His people. In the fullness of the Day of the Lord, those who have set their hope in the Lord will be exalted and presented with their inheritance. The wicked will have destruction and the people of God will witness this act of righteousness and justice.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Rom. 16:20 NIV)
V35 answers the question that has troubled the Psalmist. He has been concerned that he has seen the prosperity of the wicked, people flourishing like a tree, but in no time at all they have passed away, and the place that once knew them will know them no more forever. After diligent searching, no trace of the wicked could be found because they are no more. But the way of the wise leads to a certain future. Those who seek peace will enjoy their inheritance. There is no future for the wicked. The enduring salvation of the people of God is secured by the righteousness of the Lord. During the time of trouble and anxiety the Lord is our stronghold. We are saved from the plots of the wicked and the Lord delivers us because we take our refuge in the Lord.
A mighty fortress is our God:
Our strength is in the Lord. Father of all provision we thank You that You hold us secure in the Lord Jesus Christ. No one can pluck us out of Your hand. Lord we have been discouraged at the arrogance of those who mock Your name. The Christian voice has been silenced so long in this nation that most people live with Biblical illiteracy. They do not know right from wrong nor do they want to know it. Lord in the day of Your power, come again into our nation that people may know and acknowledge that You are the Sovereign Lord. Lord help us to be faithful when others fail to serve You. Lord visit us again in blessing and cause the Gospel to be heard and many brought to Jesus Christ because we pray in His name. Amen