Thursday, March 31, 2022

Enticed by Prosperity (Psalm 37)

"A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous" (Psalm 37:16–17).

The prosperity of others often dangles like a carrot before the envious eyes of God’s people. Believers frequently fall into the trap of materialism and worldliness by becoming enraptured by the alluring wealth of the unbeliever. In Psalm 37, David warns us not to be ensnared by these worldly trappings, but to trust in God and obey Him. He reminds us that God’s blessings are eternal but the riches of this world pass away, “for like grass they will soon wither.”

When we become distracted by the prosperity of others, we become dissatisfied with God’s providential blessings. We forget to measure success by God’s scales, that spiritual blessings are of greater worth than worldly gain. David warns believers against fretting over the successes of others because that only creates envy and covetousness. God’s people should instead seek His ways and remember His blessings of righteousness and justice. “Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3).

“David places faith first in order, to show that God is the author of all good, and that by His blessing alone prosperity is to be looked for; so it ought to be observed that he connects this with a holy life,” Calvin wrote. “For the man who places his whole confidence in God, and gives himself up to be governed by Him, will live uprightly and innocently, and will devote himself to doing good.” Such a person does not let his eyes wander to the riches of the world, but seeks first the righteousness of God. He is more concerned with living righteously than storing up treasures on earth.

David emphasizes the futility of cherishing worldly gain, for the future of the unredeemed is torment; the hope of the believer, however, is an eternal life graced with beauty, truth, holiness, and peace. “Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off” (37:37–38).

The psalm ends with two reminders that God delivers His people. Calvin writes, “If God should prolong affliction [God’s children] should recall this … that after He has tried their patience, He will in the end deliver them.”

Read Matt. 6:19–34. List parallel themes from this passage and Psalm 37. Where is your heart’s desire? Do you desire earthly riches more than heavenly? Do you envy the success of others? Consider your heart today and ask God to reveal whether you are more concerned with serving Him or gaining worldly success.