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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Psalm 37 Don’t Fret and I Mean It!

Do not fret. God means it! He says it three times in eight verses! Do not fret because of those who work wickedness. Neither fret over those whose plotting and scheming succeeds.  In Psalm 37:8 God tells us why: fretting leads only to evil. Fretting is a direct pathway to wickedness. In fretting we accumulate the evil which started us a-frettin’ in the first place. Fretting is diametrically opposed to patiently waiting for the Lord. You can either obey God by being still before Him or you can fret. You cannot do both, but you must choose. They are the two available options. Pick now, before the storm comes and fretting seems inevitable.

The Hebrew word ‘fret’ does not mean “worry.” It comes from a root meaning “to burn or kindle”. The grammatical construction in Psalm 37 is reflexive, found only four times in the OT (Psalm 37:1, 7, 8; Proverbs 24:19). Used this way the word literally means: “to kindle yourself.” Fretting is the reflexive self-action of setting yourself aflame with the very fire due another. You take the anger you have at that which has offended you and you set your own self ablaze with it. Of course, whenever you fret you can be sure that anxiety, worry, fear, depression, temper-tantrums and other self-harming behaviors will follow closely behind. This is not good for our own well being and God knows it. Do not fret, it begets wrath, anger and self-destruction. Fretting is a subtle door to evil and God has a much better way to deal with trouble.

God’s way to deal with trouble, is to trust Him. Be still. Commit your way to Yahweh. Let God vindicate you. On the brink of the Red Sea crossing Moses told the people of Israel: “The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to keep still.” This is what it means to wait on God. Stunningly Lamentations says almost the same thing in the aftermath of Jerusalem’s destruction (Lamentations 3:21-26). Stillness is an unnatural reaction when facing trouble. We feel the need to move, to do something, to fix the problem, to fight the giant or to get out of the way. Yet new creation always feels unnatural to us. God says no fretting and no fighting for you. Be still and watch me go. If you delight in a good God who is good to you and is very good at being God, then there is no reason to fret. Let your vision of God change your hot anger into a cool breeze, sense yourself move from frenzy to stillness. Instead of kindling ourselves, we choose to inhale the stillness of God’s goodness, waiting patiently for Him. God will do it. Wait and see.

Dear Lord, we stand in the midst of trouble. We have been wronged, neglected, hurt and left defenseless. We’ve lashed out at others and at ourselves. Forgive our fretting. Forgive our wrath. Right here, right now we choose to trust you. We still ourselves and wait for you. We commit our lives, our days and our choices to you. We delight in you and confidently expect you to come through. Thank you God for your goodness to us and your vindication of us. In Jesus Name, amen.