The Whats and Whys of Psalm 37.

By Tom Castor | July 12, 2023 | ,

This post begins a series of “occasional” thoughts on what I am reading in the scriptures.


THIS MORNING, I was looking over a few passages that I thought might be of comfort to a friend of mine who has been experiencing a rough patch in ministry of late. Ministry is not easy. There are inevitable disappointments. Relational snags. Betrayals. Splinters one picks up along the way, whether by the evil intent of others or by simple incompetencies and outcomes of inconsiderate decisions.

I came to rest on Psalm 37.

Mind you, that could have been a dangerous choice. The psalm speaks a great deal of the “wicked” as the cause of the psalmists difficulties. In my friend’s case, the people who are dispensing the discomfort may not fit comfortably under that label. But, the past months have by no means represented their finest hour. The impact of their decisions (and indecision) has been hurtful to my naturally trusting friend. When one takes a bullet, it makes little difference that the perpetrator did not take aim but had simply been fumble-fisted as they handled the gun. Wounds rarely distinguish.

So, as I read Psalm 37, I decided, for my own sake (as I am finding myself carrying some of my friend’s pain and, as a result, some of my own resentment toward the ham-handed, muddle-headed people who have caused it) to strip away the causes, assurances, motivations, and comforts that season the psalm (the WHYs), and simply focus on the WHATs that the psalmist instructs us to do (the imperatives). Here they are (NIV):

Do not fret (v.1)

(Do not) be envious (v.1)

Trust in the Lord (v.3)

Do good (v.3)

Take delight in the Lord (v.3)

Commit your way to the Lord (v.4)

Trust in him (v.5)

Be still before the Lord (v.7)

Wait patiently for him (v.7)

Do not fret (v.7)

Refrain from anger (v.8)

Turn from wrath (v.8)

Do not fret (v.8)

Turn from evil (v.27)

Do good (v.27)

Hope in the Lord (v.34)

Keep his way (v.34)

Now Psalm 37 is filled with practical, reasonable, and hopeful WHYs. I recommended you read them repeatedly to absorb the psalm’s full impact. But my self-assigned task for today is to reflect on, and ask the Holy Spirit to help me live out the WHATs.

Tom Castor

Thomas Castor, founder of Clear and Simple Media Group, is a seasoned writer and communicator who has been delivering content with clarity and simplicity for 30 years.