We are in the midst of reading through many of the Psalms. The words of the Psalmist(s) were wisdom and truth in their day. But, in light of Jesus, I think they have even more meaning for us today. Psalm 37 struck me this past week. I’m not offering much here, other than my own observations, but I kind of wonder if Psalm 37 could have been on Jesus’ mind as he taught his disciples when he gave what we now call “The Sermon on the Mount.”
As I was reading through Psalm 37, I noticed many lines that parallel Jesus’ teachings in “The Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5. Below you can see some of the similarities that I saw:
(Matt. 5:3) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Ps. 37:14-17) The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken. Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.
(Matt. 5:4) Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Ps. 37:39-40) The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.
(Matt. 5:5) Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
(Ps. 37:10-11) A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.
(Matt. 5:6) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
(Ps. 37:5-6) Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
(Matt. 5:7) Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
(Ps. 37:8-9) Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
(Matt. 5:8) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
(Ps. 37:4) Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Matt. 5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
(Ps. 37:37) Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.
(Matt. 5:10-12) Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Ps. 37:1-2, 7b) — Do no fret because of those who do evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away…. [D]o not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Over the course of our reading through the Bible in 2016, you have hear or read me commenting that the main character — the focal point — of the Bible is Jesus. Everything about the Bible is either looking forward to, speaking of, or looking back at Jesus. As we continue to read through the Old Testament portion of the Bible, it is easy to dismiss a lot of it’s harshness and rigidity in light of the grace and mercy that highlights the gospel message of Jesus in the New Testament. But, remember, the same God who speaks in the New Testament (through Jesus) is the same God who speaks in the Old Testament. It is not surprise that we more easily gravitate toward the grace and mercy emphasized through Jesus in the New Testament. After all, Jesus is the clearest expression of God that we have (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). This does not mean that we just dismiss the Old Testament. Rather, in light of Jesus, the words of the Old Testament are given new life. Jesus, after all, is the fulfillment of the law (Matt. 5:17). Jesus enables us to understand the words of wisdom and truth, of the Old Testament, in a fuller way than ever before.
Because of Jesus, the words of Psalm 37 have an even deeper meaning for us today, because we have an even clearer picture of how God delivers and provides for his people. Jesus is the one who provides us a clearer picture of God. Jesus shows us that God is working to bring about far more than mere physical provision or deliverance. Jesus shows us that God is bringing about his eternal heavenly kingdom here on earth. He is bringing about eternal comfort, mercy, and peace. And, he is filling us with the eternal fulness of the life of God the Father, Son, and Spirit. By now you have hopefully noticed that, because of Jesus, Psalm 37 is one example of God revealing himself in both the Old and New Testaments.
Yes, the Old Testament and even the Psalms, come across to us as harsh and rigid. But, hopefully in light of Jesus, they now reveal to you the grace, mercy, and beauty of God and the life he wants to give to you if you’ll fully entrust yourself to him in all things.