Waiting for God

Psalm 37

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 37

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Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the Hebrew Bible.

 

Jesus said, "Good things will happen to the meek. One day the earth will be theirs". (Matthew 5: 5) (The meek are people that let someone teach them. Here that someone is God.)

Psalm 37: 1 - 11 ~ How to wait

  (This psalm is) for David.

v1   Do not make yourself angry because of what evil people do.
  Do not feel that you want to be like them.
  They are always doing wrong things.

v2   They are like grass that will soon become dry.
  They will die just as green plants do.

v3   Trust in the LORD and do good things.
  Live in the land and you will be safe.
  You will enjoy what it gives to you.

v4   Be happy with the LORD.
  He will give to you what you most want.

v5   Promise that you will give yourself to the LORD.
  Trust in him and he will do (all this).

v6   You are righteous. That will shine out like the dawn.
  You are a fair person. That will be like the sun at midday.

v7   Remain still in front of the LORD.
  Wait for him (to do something).
  Do not make yourself angry because other people are doing well,
  or because they are making bad plans.

v8   Stop being angry (with God) and do not get heated inside.
  Do not make yourself angry, it only brings trouble.

v9   Evil people will become cut off,
  but people that wait for the LORD will inherit the land.

v10   Soon the godless man will be gone.
  If you look for his place, you will not find him.

v11   The meek will inherit the land.
  They will enjoy wonderful peace.

The Story of Psalm 37

We call a person that writes a psalm a "psalmist". Here it might have been David, or one of his friends. The psalmist saw that many evil people had everything that they wanted. They did what they liked. Nobody stopped them. They hurt poor people that did not have very much. The psalmist began to feel very angry. Then he thought that if he was angry it would not give him any help. He remembered that one day God would put things right. The psalmist just had to wait for that day.

Psalm 37 is an alphabet psalm. Verse 1 begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, verse 3 with the second letter, and so on. Other alphabet psalms are 9, 10, 25, 34, 111, 112, 119 and 145.

What Psalm 37: 1 – 11 means

How do you wait for God to do something? How do you stop yourself getting angry because godless people have everything that they want? The psalmist tells us how: do something else! In verse 3 he starts telling us the things that we should do so that we do not become angry. He says:

  ·   trust in the LORD, or ask God for help

  ·   do good things, or give help to people around us

  ·   enjoy what the land gives, even if it is not much

We are happy with the LORD if we obey him. He will then give us all that we need. It might not happen immediately, but it will happen. We must learn to wait for God’s time. This means the time when God decides to do something.

In verse 6 there are 2 pictures. One is of the dawn, the other of the sun at midday. Just as everybody sees these things, so everybody will see what sort of people we are. But, as verse 7 says, we must wait for God to do something.

He will show people what we are like. We must not become angry if they do not see it. We must be still and wait! The Hebrew word for "be still" in verse 7 means "do not make a noise" as well as "do not move".

We have put "with God" in brackets ...( )... in verse 8. We usually do this when the words are not in the Hebrew Bible. We put them in to make it easier to understand. Bible translators have always done something like this. Some people think that we should put "with evil people" in brackets, not "with God". Both are probably true. We should not get angry with anyone. Another way to say "get angry" in English is "get heated (hot)" about something. As you can see in verse 8, it is the same in Hebrew. When we get angry with someone it usually leads to trouble.

The word "cut off" in verse 9 means "destroyed". When the Jews came from Egypt to Israel with Moses, God cut off or destroyed their enemies. Then the Jews received their land. The enemies were the Canaanites that lived in the land before the Jews. This verse tells us that what God did in the past he can do again. This time it is not the Canaanites that God will destroy. It will be all the evil people that make life hard for God's people.

Then there will be peace. There are 3 sorts of peace:

  ·   no fighting wars with other people

  ·   no fighting against yourself

  ·   no fighting between us and God

Jesus taught his people that the land that they would inherit (or receive) would be the kingdom of heaven. That is the place where Jesus is king. When the psalmist wrote Psalm 37, "the land" meant where the Jews lived. It is important to understand that Jesus said that it meant more than this. The psalmist thought that "waiting for God" "waiting for God" meant that one day things would change, perhaps for his children. Jesus taught that one day things would change for everyone. That day will be when Jesus comes back to the earth. But everybody must wait for God: he may do something now!

Psalm 37: 12 - 20 ~ The end of godless people

v12   A godless person makes bad plans against a righteous one.
  (The godless person) shows his teeth to him.

v13   The LORD laughs at (the godless person),
  because he can see that his day will come.

v14   Godless people get out their swords and point their bows:
  - to make poor and helpless people fall
  - to kill people that walk on the right road

v15   But their swords will go into their own hearts.
  Their bows will become broken.

v16   Righteous people may have little (power),
  but that is better than the noise all the godless people make.

v17   The LORD will keep righteous people safe,
  but will destroy the power of bad people.

v18   The LORD knows the days of blameless people,
  but their inheritance will last for ever.

v19   They will not be disappointed in a bad time.
  In days of famine they will have enough.

v20   But godless people will die.
  They are enemies of the LORD.
  You will not see them.
  Like something beautiful, or like smoke, they will disappear.

Word list

blameless ~ someone that has done nothing wrong

for ever ~ always, so that there is no end

disappear ~ become not seen

What Psalm 37: 12 – 20 means

This part of the psalm is really all about godless people. For Jews, 3 000 years ago, the important word was in verse 18: inheritance. The Jews might not see godless people destroyed, but their children probably would. Later, the Jews began to believe in a new heaven and a new earth. Christians also believe this. They believe that one day Jesus will come back to the earth. Then there will be a new heaven (sky) and a new earth. That is when they will receive their inheritance. Godless people will not receive an inheritance. But there are also promises here for Christians before the new heaven and earth come. Until that day God will give them help. He will keep them safe and give them food. Many Christians know that this is true, even in the worst times. "His day" in verse 13 is the time when God will tell godless people that they have done many wrong things. The "his" means both God and the godless person, man or woman. "The days" in verse 18 means "the life" of the righteous person, man or woman. God knows their days, or how long they will live. In verse 20 the psalmist is probably thinking of a beautiful field. One day the grass will disappear like smoke from a fire. The godless will be like this.

Psalm 37: 21 - 31 ~ God will help righteous people

v21   When people lend something to a godless man he does not give it back.
  Righteous people are kind and give things away.

v22   The people that (God) says good things about will inherit the land.
  The people that he curses he will destroy.

v23   If the LORD likes the way that a man is going,
  he will give him help.

v24   Even if (that man) trips over, he will not fall.
  The hand of the LORD will hold him up.

v25   I was young and now I am old.
  Yet I have not seen the righteous man forgotten (by God).
  (I have not seen) his children asking people for food.

v26   He is always kind. He lends (things to people).
  (People) say good things to his children.

v27   Turn away from evil and do good (things).
  Then you will live for ever!

v28   Because the LORD loves justice he will not forget his saints.
  He will care for them for ever,
  but he will destroy the children of the godless.

v29   Righteous people will inherit the land.
  They will always live there.

v30   The righteous man says good things,
  he talks about justice.

v31   The rules of God are in his heart.
  His feet do not trip over.

Word list

curse ~ say bad things about someone

trip over ~ nearly fall when your feet hit something

saint ~ the people that enjoy God’s kind love; his people

What Psalm 37: 21 – 31 means

In verse 21 the godless man does not give back what he ought to give back. The righteous man does not ask for it back. In verse 22 the words in brackets ... ( ) ... could be the righteous man or God. We are not sure. There are times when either may be true.

In verses 25, 26 and 28 we find the word "children". In the Hebrew Bible the word is "seed". This is a special Bible word. The context (which means "where we find it") gives us help to understand it. In verses 25 and 26 it means "children", but in verse 28 it may mean "ideas". In the New Testament of the Bible it can mean "Jesus" or "Christians".

The word "saints" in verse 28 is "chesidim" in Hebrew. God’s "chesid" is the kind way that he loves people. People that believe that he loves them and thank him for it are "chesidim". Now we call them "saints" or "Christians". Though David wrote Psalm 37 for Jews, Jesus wrote it again for Christians in "the Sermon on the Mount". This is what Jesus said in Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7.

Psalm 37: 32 - 40 ~ What happens to Righteous People

v32   The godless man watches the righteous man.
  He wants to kill him.

v33   The LORD will not let him remain in his hand.
  He will not say that he is wrong
  when people are saying that he is wrong.

v34   Stay with the LORD. Do things his way.
  He will give you help. The land will be yours.
  You will see when godless people become cut off.

v35   I have seen the godless man with great power.
  He was a tree growing in the best place (for it).

v36   But he died. He did not remain alive.
  I looked for him but I did not find him.

v37   Think about the blameless man.
  Look at the man that is good.
  He will have peace in the end.

v38   But (God) will destroy people that do not obey him.
  In the end (God) will cut off godless people.

v39   The LORD will make righteous people safe.
  He will give them help in time of trouble.

v40   The LORD gives them help and makes them safe.
  He makes them safe from the godless.
  He makes them safe because they trust in him.

What Psalm 37: 32 – 40 means

In verse 33 he, him and his happen 5 times. This is very confusing! It probably means "the LORD will not let the righteous man remain in the hand of the godless man. The LORD will not say that the righteous man is wrong when people are saying that he is wrong".

In verse 34 "stay with the LORD" means "go on believing in the LORD". In the New Testament "the Way" is a name for being a Christian. "Cut off" means the same as in verse 9, that is "destroyed".

In verse 35, some translations say that it is a Bay Tree.

Part 4 of the psalm tells us that God will care for the righteous man (or woman). He will make them safe. In the time of David this meant that God would keep them safe on earth. Now it means more. It means that God will keep them safe when they die. Who is the righteous man or woman? Someone that trusts in God! It is not someone that tries hard to be good. It is someone that believes in God and trusts that God will give to them life that will never have an end.

Something to do

This table shows 4 important words from Psalm 37. Study it with care.

Word

 

 Meaning in the Psalm

 

 Meaning in the Teaching of Jesus

 The land

 Where the Jews lived

The Kingdom of God, where all Christians will live when they die.

 righteous

 Jews that tried to obey God

People that believe in Jesus Christ, we call them Christians

 inheritance

 What the Jews thought that their children would get when their parents died

What Christians will get when they die

 godless

People that do not obey the rules of God

People that do not obey the rules of God

 

© 2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

January 2001

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