Give yourself to the Lord, trust in Him, and He will help you.
Psalm 37:5 GNB (Good News Bible)
This is the seventh of 20 memory verses that I will use as a guide/focal point to writing these articles. The “Table of Contents” is available here in the series introductory article.
Immediate & Passage Literary Context
The immediate context for Psalm 37:5 is Psalm 37:1-6, shown below from the NIV.
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37 as a whole is classified as an acrostic poem because each two-line/verse stanza begin with successive letters in the Hebrew alphabet. This is a classification applied to Psalms 9, 10, 25, 34, 111, 112, 119 and 145. The Psalm can be grouped into four sections:
- Verse 1 – 11: How to wait
- Verse 12 – 20: The end of Godless people
- Verse 21 – 31: God will help righteous people
- Verse 32 – 40: What happens to righteous people
How do we wait for God to do something? How do we stop ourselves from 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.
Wider Literary Context
Unlike Psalm 31:3, where the general consensus is that David was the primary author, Psalm 37 is considered to be written for David. The author saw that many evil and godless people had everything that they wanted. They did what they liked. Nobody stopped them. They hurt poor people who 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. The following information is reproduced from the previous article where our memory verse is also from Psalm.
The Psalms are unique as a literary genre within the Bible; they are of poetry form, a hymn or song written in worship of God. The collection of 150 Psalms are grouped into five distinct sections, each book-ended by a benediction:
- Book 1 (Psalms 1–41)
- Book 2 (Psalms 42–72)
- Book 3 (Psalms 73–89)
- Book 4 (Psalms 90–106)
- Book 5 (Psalms 107–150)
Instead of a traditional literary contextualisation for the Psalms, a German Old Testament scholar by the name of Hermann Gunkel wrote a book: The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction in 1926. He identified five types for grouping Psalms, which this time we will merge with the work of Joachim Begrich, who had a slightly better classification system.
- Songs of Zion
- Yahweh’s Enthronement
- Protesting Innocence
- Cursing & Vengeance
- Royal Psalms
For Psalm 37, there are four characteristics which make it a Wisdom Psalm based on how the Psalmist:
- speaks of his words as wisdom, instruction, etc.
- addresses the “fear of Yahweh”
- addresses his audience as “Sons”
- warns, teaches, and uses figures, question and answer techniques, beatitudes, descriptions of Yahweh’s ways
This updated classification system is sourced from this Codex: Resources for Biblical, Theological & Religious Studies website.
As a Psalm of wisdom, the key word of Psalm 37:3 is trust. What does it mean to trust in the Lord? In Jeremiah 17:7, it says:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
When we trust in the Lord, we have a heavenly confidence that keeps us securely rooted. Further, according to Jeremiah, trusting in the Lord manifests itself in terms of the fruit we bear. Indeed, trust creates a virtuous cycle, where it leads from one good thing to another.
This theme of trust and hope is beautifully expressed in the first two verses and chorus of Cornerstone:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name
Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all
When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil
Trust is the anchor underpinning our belief (in God). The fruit that is manifested makes this an affirmation and active process of demonstrating our beliefs. When you have trust, you are confident to act upon your beliefs. Our beliefs is what governs our decisions which in turns, produces our actions or our works. Ours works determines quality of life. God desires to be a part of our lives. He alone is able to provide us with the greatest quality of life. This is a benefit to us when we actively trust in the Lord.
Trusting in the Lord also leads to obedience, which lies in very neatly in reinforcing our previous memory verse from Deuteronomy 13:4, where we are called to follow His commandments and obey him. Like the old hymn states, trust and obey – there is simply no other way! The first verse and famous chorus are as follows:
When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His word
What a glory He sheds on our way
While we do His good will
He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey
Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey
I will end this memory verse application with a famous non-biblical quote, which really sums up the core aspect of trust:
The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. Ernest Hemingway