“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity” (Ps. 37:1).
Sometimes, life can be quite frustrating. Have you ever encountered situations where just as you are about to drive off for an important meeting, your car broke down; or when you urgently needed to print your report, your printer malfunction? How would you feel when faced with such trying circumstances? And when we look to the world today, it seems that God is not in control. There is much unfairness in the world, with the believers receiving the bad end of it. Why is it that most of time, it seems that those who gossip and back-stab others are the ones who get the promotion as compared to the honest and hard-working employee? Why does God allow the wicked to prosper while the righteous have to suffer through life? And the more you ponder over such issues, the more likely you are to be frustrated and fret over them. You know that it is wrong to envy others but at the same time you cannot help feeling so. What should you do?
The psalmist encourages us with these words: “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity” (Ps. 37:1). He did not deny that he himself felt like us too at a certain point of his life. He lamented: “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Ps. 73:3). Yes, the psalmist too was frustrated and envious when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. But how did he overcome it? He said: “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end” (Ps. 73:17). My friends, if you have been frustrated with life, then perhaps today, when you come to the sanctuary of God to seek God, you will find the answer to overcome your frustration and fretfulness.
The word “fret” is often associated with the word “fire”. It has a lively imagery to it. It is like starting a fire for the BBQ where the initial coals will glow after a hard time of fanning them. Thus, “fret” in its raw sense means “to glow, or to kindle”. It signifies the beginning of a strong fire. Applying it to our emotion, to fret over something means we are starting to glow with the fire of anger. And if our fretfulness is left unchecked, it will turn into a huge fire that will not only destroy others but also ourselves. When we fret within ourselves over the wicked, we will feel annoyed and agitated. We may do that which is not advisable. Our joy and peace will be taken away from us.
Psalm 37 is the antidote for a fretful heart. The psalmist begins by saying: “1Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb” (Ps. 37:1-2). The psalmist tells us that it is a waste of time for us to wring our hands in fretfulness and frustration over the work and prosperity of the wicked. Their success and boastings are merely temporal and worthless. Very soon, they will fall and will be cut off. One day, they will have to meet God face to face and have to answer for their actions. God will judge them according to their evil deeds. Billionaire Forbes will say “He who dies with the most toys wins” to express the world’s mantra on capital greed to enrich one at all cost. But, let this be clear, he who dies with the most toys is dead and in judgment and his toys become meaningless to him: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
Instead of following the ways of the world, the psalmist urges us to follow the ways of the Lord: “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed” (Ps. 37:3). To trust in the Lord means to have faith and confidence in God. To trust God is to have confidence in God’s sovereignty and God’s wisdom in the affairs of this world and in our lives. We can only trust God when we have a strong personal relationship with God and have faith in Him. It would be awful hard to trust God if you do not believe in Him in the first place. We have been taught from young never to trust a stranger. The same truth applies. In order to be able to trust God, we must first know Him and know His ways. The more we comprehend God, the easier it is for us to trust Him. Trusting God requires faith.
Second, the psalmist also urges us to “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Ps. 37:4). To delight ourselves in the Lord means to take pleasure in and to enjoy God. We are not merely to acknowledge God’s presence, but rather, we are urged to take pleasure in Him. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. It is not the other way round – God gives us our desire and hence we delight in Him. No! The “desires” are granted only after we “delight” in Him. When we delight in God, there is a change in us. We no longer see the world as a fulfilment of his pleasure and rewards. The pursuit of the material things of this world will fade in the light of the brightness of the glory of God. The aim to please God and to do His will becomes our desire. Surely God will be glad to grant unto us such a holy desire!
Third, the psalmist urges us to “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Ps. 37:5). In the Hebrew, “to commit” means “to roll over.” It means that we are to surrender ourselves unto the Lord and to transfer over our burdens of our work unto Him. My friends, are you encumbered with a heavy burden in your life today? Then, be not fretful but learn to cast your burden unto the Lord: “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Ps. 55:22). Jesus promises us: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). How wonderful it is to have a Saviour who cares for us!
Finally, the psalmist urges us to “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass” (Ps. 37:7). It is interesting to note that the word “rest” in this verse means “to be silent”. What does this tell you? To be silent in the Lord implies that we should not complain and blame God for things in life. We should be willing to accept whatever the lot God has for us.
Consider your life – has the Lord ever short-changed you? Has not the Lord often showered His grace on you in times of need in the past? Let us not take God for granted but learn to rest in the Lord. We have to learn to wait with patience for the Lord to fulfil His purpose in our life. He is not done with His work in your life yet. Truly, the Lord is good unto all who seek Him and wait upon Him: “25The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. 26It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD” (Lam. 3:25-26). My friends, there is no point feeling frustrated in life. The antidote for our fretful heart is to be found in the Lord – put your trust in Him, delight in Him, commit your ways unto Him and rest and wait upon Him. Have you?