Do Not Fret
Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
The ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes instructed that he wished at his death to be buried facedown. When perplexed friends asked him why, he explained: “Because one day this world will be turned right side up.” Centuries later we still struggle in a world that is upside down in so many ways; evil people still prosper and good people still face trials and tribulations. We await a world turned right side up!
In this psalm David provides sage instruction, or torah, for living in an upside down world. We learn from verse 25 of this Psalm that David writes as an old man reflecting on life and lessons learned: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken.” David offers up ripened wisdom gleaned from years of walking with God. Through the years David has learned to see the bigger picture, and to rest and be confident that God is at work in the world.
David begins the psalm with an important life lesson: “Do not fret because of those who are evil… do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” The Hebrew verb translated as “do not fret” literally means, “do not get heated”. Don’t get all hot under the collar when evil people are getting their way. Don’t make yourself sick with bitterness and envy because of their seeming success. Keep it all in perspective, “for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away”. Their prosperity is brief in the light of eternity. God’s justice will not be mocked. Don’t spend emotional energy when you see evil people getting their way, or when you think you know better than God how to run the world.
Preoccupation with the seeming success of evil people can’t simply be turned off, but has to be redirected. So replace agitation and envy with their opposites: “trust in the LORD…do good…take delight in the LORD…commit your way to the LORD…trust in him…be still before the LORD…wait patiently for him…do not fret…” Here are positive things we can do in place of fretting and envy. God takes care of His own!
The command to “Commit your way to the LORD” provides a wonderful word picture that makes for good reflection or meditation. The Hebrew verb translated as (“Commit”) literally means “to roll”. It has the idea of “rolling” the burden off your back onto the back of another who can help. So in your life’s journey “roll” onto God’s back your reputation, your career, your worries about the future, and your desire for vindication. Trust in God, and He will act. “Wait patiently for him.”
F. B. Meyer, in his book, David: Shepherd, Psalmist, King, makes a helpful distinction between “waiting for God” and “waiting on God”. When we are “waiting for God” we are waiting patiently, hopefully, submissively, for God to act. When we are “waiting on God” we are praying, meditating, and spending time with Him.
Let go any agitation or envy of the seeming success of the wicked. “Be still before the LORD.”
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