David continues discussing how God’s people should respond to the wicked prospering and the righteous suffering.
(12-15) The problem of persecution
It often appears that the wicked are triumphing over the righteous. All the plots and schemes seem to be successful while the righteous suffer. However, David shows us a different perspective. First, God is watching over all things. He laughs at the plans of the wicked. God will not allow them to succeed. Secondly, David shows us the perspective of time. As an old man he has seen the outcome of the wicked. They may appear to succeed in the short term, but ultimately everything will come back to get them. They will be caught in their own trap.
(16-26) The problem of possessions
As we look in our world, we see that many times the wicked prosper financially while the righteous barely scrape by. However, their prosperity will not last. Their strength will fail, and they will lose their possessions. By contrast, God preserves the righteous. Even though they go through lean times, God always meets their needs.
The wicked do not last long; they disappear like smoke from a fire. God establishes the righteous and upholds them. We are not to be looking for short term gain. God will sustain us continually for our entire lives. God smiles on His children and sustains them even when they fall. God never fails the righteous or their descendants.
Throughout this passage we see a continual contrast of outcomes, but David also shows us a contrast of character. In our pride, we all read Psalm 37 as if we are the righteous. However, David shows us what the righteous and the wicked look like.
- The wicked plot and scheme. The righteous faithfully obey.
- The wicked focus on the short term. The righteous focus on the long term.
- The wicked are selfish and greedy with their possessions. The righteous are generous and giving.
- The wicked are only concerned with themselves. The righteous pass on their blessings to their descendants.
- The wicked fall and do not recover. The righteous fall and are sustained and restored by the grace of God.
This life is only available through Jesus Christ. We must turn from ourselves and trust in Him.