Do Not Fret……….Do Not Fret……….Do Not Fret
Psalm 37: 1,7,8.
These three words occur repeatedly at the beginning of Psalm 37. What does it mean, first of all, to “fret?” Secondly, what reasons are given for this emphasis? And lastly, what directions do these scriptures give to enable us to cease from fretting?
To fret is to be constantly or visibly worried or anxious. Synonyms include to be distressed, to agonize, or to have anguish. It may present itself as complaining, grumbling, whining, or brooding. The factors mentioned in Psalm thirty seven that led to fretting then and still lead to fretting today are the presence of evil men (verse one), and their success in carrying out their wicked schemes. (verse seven) Verse eight tells us that our fretting leads only to evil.
It does not take very long in many conversations before one notices fretting on the part of those participating in the discussion. It is often perceived as one of the synonyms listed above, from grumbling and complaining all the way to anguish. The concerns are in regard to local, national and international figures in the fields of business, politics, education or sports. Evil progresses to accomplish its wicked schemes and fretting abounds. There are many things which we can do, and are, in fact, instructed to do, such as prayer. (I Timothy 2:1-2) In many countries, there is a right to vote, and to make one’s voice and opinion heard. The one thing that this Psalm tells us not to do, however, is to fret. Why? Because it leads to evil (verse eight), and because evil men will be cut off (verse nine) and will soon wither and die away. (verse two)
Numerous areas of scripture use inverted parallelism to convey the central message. This means that the thought on each end of the passage, (verses one to nine) is the same. (Do not fret) The central portion of the scripture contains the bottom line or the take home point. We do not learn to stop fretting by simply stopping to fret. We are instructed in scripture to replace our thinking or behavior, not simply to stop a thinking pattern or activity. This Psalm instructs us that fretting is only successfully dealt with when it is replaced by the instructions given in verses three through seven. How do we succeed in ceasing to fret? By doing the following four things.
-Trust in the LORD and do good. (verse three)
-Delight yourself in the LORD. (verse four)
-Commit your way to the LORD. (verse five)
-Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. (verse seven)
In each of the above, our reference is to the LORD, the Becoming One, the One who will become all that we need. We are instructed to trust in the LORD and to do good. Trust is a confidence that will see us through the dark times of abounding evil around us. It needs nor asks for any verification of God’s sovereignty in dealing with the deterioration in our society that results from the plans of evil men. It is the trust that we see in Isaiah 50:10. “Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” We, in addition to trust, are instructed to do good, as in the words of John Wesley. “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
Verse four directs us to “delight yourself in the LORD.” The meaning of delight may be understood more completely by the use of words such as having great pleasure, elation, or enchantment. Why are we to delight in the LORD? Because He, and He alone meets all our needs. He is our comfort, our assurance, our hope in the midst of surrounding evil. It is only as we take delight in Him that we are released from fretting.
In the following verse (verse five) we are told to “Commit your way to the LORD.” This implies a binding obligation to look to Him for our course of action. It means entrusting our path to His direction and counsel. He, as our Sovereign LORD, in the midst of the advance of evil surrounding us, will “make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (verse six)
Verse seven says the following. “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” To wait patiently requires an attentive spirit. We must keep our eyes, our focus, our thoughts on Him. To be still implies also that we are available and responsive to His revealed will. Again, our spirit is waiting and at rest before the One who is always all that we need. Even while waiting, His Spirit assures us that even now, in the midst of the prevailing advancing schemes of evil, He will meet every need.
Are you inclined to fret? Are you distressed and uneasy as you behold and consider the evil schemes of those in the world? The LORD has given us a remedy for the fretting due to the evil that surrounds us. It is to trust in the LORD, delight yourself in the LORD, commit your way to the LORD and to be still before the LORD. He is the becoming One who will moment by moment meet each need of our lives. He is the LORD of your life and the LORD of all the earth. There is not a single atom in the universe which is not under His control. He has not abdicated His throne. The LORD assures us of the following in the last two verses of Psalm thirty seven. “The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in times of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.”
In Christ, Richard Spann