Where is our contentment to be found? Psalm 37 is a wisdom psalm which poetically declares our contentment is to be found in the Lord. As we prepare to read the psalm, let’s look to the ESV Study Bible to find a helpful outline which will make it more accessible for our devotional life. There in the notes we read, “(Psalm 37) addresses the problem caused when godless people prosper; it helps the faithful to see that it really is better to stay loyal to the Lord — a loyalty expressed in contentment, honest dealing, generosity, and just speech. The Lord will make the distinction between the two groups clear in his own time, and the faithful must wait patiently.”
WEDNESDAY, MAY 15th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Psalm 37
Focused Passage for Reflection - Psalm 37:3-11
Reflecting on the Text:
To delight in someone or something means to take great pleasure in that particular person or thing. It means to find joy in the object of our delight. So in what, or whom, do you take pleasure? If that person or thing is readily accessible and found in abundance, you will very likely describe yourself as content. On the other hand, we struggle with contentment when the object of our true delight is beyond our reach.
So again, in what, or whom, do you take delight? Honestly, asking ourselves this question is perhaps the best way to allow Psalm 37 to minister to our hearts. This psalm, like others (namely Psalm 73), is refreshingly honest in dealing with the “problem” of why the unrighteous prosper. First of all, isn’t it beautiful that God gives us this psalm as a way to express our struggle before Him. Rather than rebuke us for the struggle, He gives us a way to communicate it back to Him.
But what is this “problem” of the unrighteous prospering? Essentially, the Psalmist is saying that others are getting what he wants, particularly the ungodly, and he doesn’t know what to do about it. Does that sound familiar? Without a doubt, the psalm opens by telling us not to be envious. But instead of slapping our hands, God goes on to comfort us by reminding us of the contrasting fate which awaits His enemies, and the objects of His grace.
And with that, the Word calls us to reconsider what it is that we want. It calls us to make the Lord the true object of our delight. Verses 3-9 give a series of commands which both shape the delight of our heart, and flow out of that delight. Then in verse 11, there is a sweet reminder of the fate awaiting those who have delighted in the Lord. “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
In our prosperity driven society, and in the prosperity driven church, there is a tendency to read Psalm 37:4 propositionally. This propositional (and false) reading would have us think that if we could just muster up enough delight in the Lord, then we will get whatever it is that we really desire. But our gracious God has something better for us. He has given us Himself.
What better desire could there be? Our God and Father is the absolute in goodness, truth, and beauty. He is holy, wise, and loving. Through Jesus Christ His Son, we disobedient sinners have been graciously reconciled to Him. And in His wisdom, we have been given His constant and abiding presence through His indwelling Spirit.
For the Christian, true contentment is not mere wishful thinking. Contentment is a reality because if God is the object of our delight, He is always with us. He gives us our desire in abundance.
Questions for personal reflection:
On a scale of 1 - 10, where would you rate your contentment?
Is there one person or thing, which if you had abundant access to, would improve your contentment scale? Who is it, or what is it? How does that person or thing fit in to Psalm 37?
Meditate again on verses 3-11. Knowing that God does not make light of our physical needs, how do these verses reorient your delight and give you hope for lasting contentment?