We’ve been taking a closer look at David’s instructive Psalm 37. He spends most of the psalm pointing out that God will take care of the injustices and evil we find in this fallen world. However, throughout the psalm, David is also constantly referencing the benefits of those who live rightly before God.
Here are a few examples of the many ways David describes the righteous:
But the humble will inherit the land and will enjoy abundant prosperity. (v 11)
The Lord watches over the blameless all their days,
and their inheritance will last forever.
They will not be disgraced in times of adversity;
they will be satisfied in days of hunger. (v 18-19)
I have not seen the righteous abandoned
or his children begging bread. (v 25)
For the Lord loves justice
and will not abandon His faithful ones.
They are kept safe forever,
but the children of the wicked will be destroyed. (v 28)
The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord,
their refuge in a time of distress.
The Lord helps and delivers them;
He will deliver them from the wicked and will save them
because they take refuge in Him. (v 39-40)
The distinctions between evildoers and the righteous are pretty clear in the psalm, as David contrasts how the wicked and the righteous live their day-to-day lives. Evildoers will eventually face the Lord’s wrath and punishment; while the righteous have the Lord’s favor. Although the benefits listed above are impressive (the other benefits listed in the rest of the psalm are also impressive), I find myself wondering exactly how the righteous know to live like they do.
Tucked away in the middle of the psalm, while David is extolling another great benefit of the righteous, we find this:
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom;
his tongue speaks what is just.
The instruction of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not falter.
Do you see it? It’s easy to miss when we want to have the awesome benefits of speaking wisdom and what is just. I’m a big fan of having everything feel stable and steady, so I especially focus the reminder that the Lord won’t let the righteous’ steps falter. But the key to all these benefits is found in the first part of verse 31:
The instruction of his God is in his heart
We can’t live the right way if we don’t know what the right way actually is. When life comes at us fast, and detours happen, and we have people watching to see how we respond in the moment – we don’t have the time to stop everything and do an in-depth study of what God has said. We need our right-living reactions to be as natural as our reflexes, to know them “by heart”. The only way for God’s instruction about right-living to be in our hearts is for us to purposely and intentionally get them in there. The benefits that David lists for the righteous are there because they live the way God designed us to live…and they know how to live that way because they have prepared themselves to do so.
What’s God will for our lives? After we trust Christ as our savior (John 6:29, 11:25-26), God’s will for us is to live rightly – just like He created us to. How do we know what “living-rightly” looks like? We take God’s instructions – i.e. the Bible – and purposely put it in front of us, to the point we know it by heart.
So, where to start? I suggest the book of John, to see how Christ really lived. After that I would suggest either Philippians or Colossians – both are full of practical, easy-to-understand ways to live a righteous life before the Lord.