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Psa 37:1 1[By David.

] Do not fret2 when wicked men

seem to succeed!3 Do not envy evildoers!
Psalm 37:1. The psalmist urges his audience not
to envy the wicked, but to trust in and obey the
Lord, for he will destroy sinners and preserve the
godly. When the smoke of judgment clears, the
wicked will be gone, but the godly will remain and
inherit God's promised blessings. The psalm is an
acrostic; every other verse begins with a
successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

tn The verb form is singular (see vv. Psa 37:3-10

as well, where the second person verbs and
pronouns are also singular). The psalmist's
exhortation has a wisdom flavor to it; it is
personalized for each member of his audience.

tn Heb "over sinners." The context indicates that

the psalmist has in mind the apparent power and
success of sinners. See v. Psa 37:7.

Psa 37:2 For they will quickly dry up like grass, and
wither away like plants.4

tn Heb "like green vegetation."

Psa 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do what is right!

Settle in the land and maintain your integrity!5
tn Heb "tend integrity." The verb
( ra'ah,
"tend, shepherd") is probably used here in the

sense of "watch over, guard." The noun

('emunah, "faithfulness, honesty, integrity") is
understood as the direct object of the verb,
though it could be taken as an adverbial
accusative, "[feed] securely," if the audience is
likened to a flock of sheep.
Psa 37:4 Then you will take delight in the LORD,6 and
he will answer your prayers.7

tn Following the imperatives of v. Psa 37:3 the

prefixed verbal forms with vav ( )in v. Psa 37:4






indicate result. Faith and obedience (v. Psa 37:3)

will bring divine blessing (v. Psa 37:4).
tn Or "and he will give you what you desire
most." Heb "and he will grant to you the requests
of your heart."


Psa 37:5 Commit your future to the LORD!8 Trust in

him, and he will act on your behalf.9
tn Heb "roll your way upon the LORD." The noun
"way" may refer here to one's activities or course
of life.

tn Heb "he will act." Verse Psa 37:6 explains

what is meant; the LORD will vindicate those who
trust in him.

Psa 37:6 He will vindicate you in broad daylight, and

publicly defend your just cause.10
tn Heb "and he will bring out like light your
vindication, and your just cause like noonday."






Psa 37:7 Wait patiently for the LORD!11 Wait

confidently12 for him! Do not fret over the apparent
success of a sinner,13 a man who carries out wicked

tn Heb "Be quiet before the LORD!"


tc The Hebrew text has

( v hitkholel,

Hitpolel of
, khil, "writhe with fear, suffer") but
this idea fits awkwardly here. The text should be
changed to
( vetokhel; Hiphil of
yakhal, "wait"). It appears that the Hebrew text is
the product of dittography: (1) the initial (vavhe) is accidentally repeated from the preceding
word (
, yehvah) and (2) the final lamed ( )is
accidentally repeated (note the preceding lamed
and the initial lamed on the following form,








tn Heb "over one who causes his way to be


Psa 37:8 Do not be angry and frustrated!14 Do not fret!

That only leads to trouble!

tn Heb "Refrain from anger! Abandon rage!"

Psa 37:9 Wicked men15 will be wiped out,16 but those

who rely on the LORD are the ones who will possess
the land.17
tn Heb "for evil men." The conjunction
( ki,
"for") relates to the exhortations in v. Psa 37:8;
there is no reason to be frustrated, for the
evildoers will be punished in due time.


tn Or "cut off, removed."

tn Heb "and those who wait on the LORD, they

will possess the land."

Psa 37:10 Evil men will soon disappear;18 you will

stare at the spot where they once were, but they will
be gone.19
tn Heb "and yet, a little, there will be no wicked

tn Heb "and you will carefully look upon his

place, but he will not be [there]." The singular is
used here in a representative sense; the typical
evildoer is in view.

Psa 37:11 But the oppressed will possess the land

and enjoy great prosperity.20
tn Heb "and they will take delight in (see v. Psa
37:4) abundance of peace."










Psa 37:12 Evil men plot against the godly21 and

viciously attack them.22
tn Or "innocent." The singular is used here in a
representative sense; the typical evildoer and the



typical godly individual are in view.

tn Heb "and gnashes at him with his teeth" (see
Psa 35:16). The language may picture the evil
men as wild animals. The active participles in v.
Psa 37:12 are used for purposes of dramatic

Psa 37:13 The Lord laughs in disgust23 at them, for he

knows that their day is coming.24
tn Heb "laughs." As the next line indicates, this
refers to derisive laughter (see Psa 2:4). The
Hebrew imperfect verbal form describes the
action from the perspective of an eye-witness who
is watching the divine response as it unfolds
before his eyes.

tn Heb "for he sees that his day is coming." As

the following context makes clear (vv. Psa 37:15,
Psa 37:17, Psa 37:19-20), "his day" refers to the
time when God will destroy evildoers.

Psa 37:14 Evil men draw their swords and prepare

their bows, to bring down25 the oppressed and needy,
and to slaughter those who are godly.26

tn Heb "to cause to fall."

tn Heb "the upright in way," i.e., those who lead

godly lives.

Psa 37:15 Their swords will pierce27 their own hearts,

and their bows will be broken.

tn Heb "enter into."

Psa 37:16 The little bit that a godly man owns is better
than the wealth of many evil men,28
tn Heb "Better [is] a little to the godly one than
the wealth of many evil ones." The following
verses explain why this is true. Though a godly
individual may seem to have only meager
possessions, he always has what he needs and










will eventually possess the land. The wicked may

prosper for a brief time, but will eventually be
destroyed by divine judgment and lose
Psa 37:17 for evil men will lose their power,29 but the
LORD sustains30 the godly.
tn Heb "for the arms of the evil ones will be

tn The active participle here indicates this is

characteristically true.

Psa 37:18 The LORD watches over the innocent day

by day31 and they possess a permanent inheritance.32
tn Heb "the LORD knows the days of the
innocent ones." He "knows" their days in the
sense that he is intimately aware of and involved
in their daily struggles. He meets their needs and
sustains them.


tn Heb "and their inheritance is forever."

Psa 37:19 They will not be ashamed when hard times

come;33 when famine comes they will have enough to

tn Heb "in a time of trouble."


tn Heb "in days of famine they will be satisfied."

Psa 37:20 But35 evil men will die; the LORD's enemies
will be incinerated36 they will go up in smoke.37
tn Or "for," but Hebrew in this case would
have to extend all the way back to v. Psa 37:17.
Another option is to understand the particle as
asseverative, "surely" (see v. Psa 37:22).

tc The meaning of the MT (

[ kiqar
karim], "like what is precious among the
pastures/rams") is uncertain. One possibility is to

take the noun

as "pastures" and interpret
"what is precious" as referring to flowers that
blossom but then quickly disappear (see v. Psa
37:2 and BDB 430 s.v.
3). If
is taken
as "rams," then "what is precious" might refer to
the choicest portions of rams. The present
translation follows a reading in the Dead Sea
Scrolls (4QpPs37), "(like the
burning of an oven"). The next line, which pictures
the LORD's enemies being consumed in smoke,
supports this reading, which assumes confusion
of the Hebrew letters resh ( )and dalet ( )at the
end of the first word in the sequence.
tn Heb "they perish in smoke, they perish." In
addition to repeating the verb for emphasis, the
psalmist uses the perfect form of the verb to
picture the enemies' demise as if it had already
taken place. In this way he draws attention to the
certitude of their judgment.

Psa 37:21 Evil men borrow, but do not repay their

debt, but the godly show compassion and are
tn Heb "an evil [man] borrows and does not
repay; but a godly [man] is gracious and gives."
The singular forms are used in a representative
sense; the typical evildoer and godly individual
are in view. The three active participles and one
imperfect ("repay") draw attention to the
characteristic behavior of the two types.

Psa 37:22 Surely39 those favored by the LORD40 will

possess the land, but those rejected41 by him will be
wiped out.42
tn The particle
is best understood as
asseverative or emphatic here.

tn Heb "those blessed by him." The pronoun

"him" must refer to the Lord (see vv. Psa 37:20,

Psa 37:23), so the referent has been specified in

the translation for clarity.

tn Heb "cursed."


tn Or "cut off"; or "removed" (see v. Psa 37:9).

Psa 37:23 The LORD grants success to the one

whose behavior he finds commendable.43
tn Heb "from the LORD the steps of a man are
established, and in his way he delights." The
second line qualifies the first. The man whose
behavior is commendable in God's sight is the
one whose ways are established by God. Another
option is that the second line refers to the godly
man delighting in God's "way," namely the lifestyle
which he prescribes for men. In this case one
might translate, "The LORD grants success to the
one who desires to obey his commands."

Psa 37:24 Even if44 he trips, he will not fall headlong,45

for the LORD holds46 his hand.
tn Other translation options for
in this context
are "when" (so NASB) or "though" (so NEB, NIV,


tn Heb "be hurled down."

tn The active participle indicates this is

characteristically true. See v. Psa 37:17.

Psa 37:25 I was once young, now I am old. I have

never seen a godly man abandoned, or his children 47
forced to search for food.48

tn Or "offspring"; Heb "seed."

tn Heb "or his offspring searching for food." The

expression "search for food" also appears in Lam
1:11, where Jerusalem's refugees are forced to
search for food and to trade their valuable
possessions for something to eat.

Psa 37:26 All day long he shows compassion and

lends to others,49 and his children50 are blessed.
tn The active participles describe characteristic


tn Or "offspring"; Heb "seed."

Psa 37:27 Turn away from evil! Do what is right!51

Then you will enjoy lasting security.52
tn Or "Do good!" The imperatives are singular
(see v. Psa 37:1).


tn Heb "and dwell permanently." The imperative

with vav ( )is best taken here as a result clause

after the preceding imperatives.
Psa 37:28 For the LORD promotes53 justice, and
never abandons54 his faithful followers. They are
permanently secure,55 but the children56 of evil men are
wiped out.57
tn Heb "loves." The verb "loves" is here
metonymic; the LORD's commitment to principles
of justice causes him to actively promote these
principles as he governs the world. The active
participle describes characteristic behavior.

tn The imperfect verbal form draws attention to

this generalizing statement.


tn Or "protected forever."


tn Or "offspring"; Heb "seed."

tn Or "cut off"; or "removed." The perfect verbal

forms in v. Psa 37:28 state general truths.

Psa 37:29 The godly will possess the land and will
dwell in it permanently.
Psa 37:30 The godly speak wise words and promote
tn Heb "The mouth of the godly [one] utters
wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice." The
singular form is used in a representative sense;

the typical godly individual is in view. The

imperfect verbal forms draw attention to the
characteristic behavior of the godly.
Psa 37:31 The law of their God controls their
thinking;59 their60 feet do not slip.
tn Heb "the law of his God [is] in his heart." The
"heart" is here the seat of one's thoughts and

tn Heb "his." The pronoun has been translated

as plural to agree with the representative or
typical "godly" in v. Psa 37:30.

Psa 37:32 Evil men set an ambush for the godly and
try to kill them.61
tn Heb "an evil [one] watches the godly [one]
and seeks to kill him." The singular forms are
used in a representative sense; the typical
evildoer and godly individual are in view. The
active participles describe characteristic behavior.

Psa 37:33 But the LORD does not surrender the

godly, or allow them to be condemned in a court of
tn Heb "the LORD does not abandon him into
his hand or condemn him when he is judged." The
imperfects draw attention to the LORD's
characteristic behavior in this regard.

Psa 37:34 Rely63 on the LORD! Obey his commands!64

Then he will permit you65 to possess the land; you will
see the demise of evil men.66

tn Or "wait."

tn Heb "keep his way." The LORD's "way" refers

here to the "conduct required" by the LORD. In
Psa 25 the LORD's "ways" are associated with
his covenantal demands (see vv. Psa 37:4, Psa
37:9-10). See also Psa 119:3 (cf. vv. Psa 119:1,

Psa 119:4), as well as Deu 8:6; Deu 10:12; Deu

11:22; Deu 19:9; Deu 26:17; Deu 28:9; Deu

tn Heb "and he will lift you up." The prefixed

verbal form with vav ( )is best taken here as a

result clause following the imperatives in the
preceding lines.

tn Heb "when evil men are cut off you will see."

Psa 37:35 I have seen ruthless evil men67 growing in

influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil.68
tn The Hebrew uses the representative singular
again here.


tn Heb "being exposed [?] like a native,

( mit'areh)

appears to be a Hitpael participle from

luxuriant." The Hebrew form

('arah, "be exposed"), but this makes no sense in

this context. Perhaps the form is a dialectal

"( giving oneself an air of

importance"; see Jer 51:3), from

'( alah, "go
variant of

up"; see P. C. Craigie, Psa 1-50 [WBC], 296). The


'( ezrakh, "native, full citizen") refers
elsewhere to people, but here, where it is
collocated with "luxuriant, green," it probably
refers to a tree growing in native soil.
Psa 37:36 But then one passes by, and suddenly they
have disappeared!69 I looked for them, but they could
not be found.
tn Heb "and he passes by and, look, he is not
[there]." The subject of the verb "passes by" is
probably indefinite, referring to any passerby.
Some prefer to change the form to first person,
"and I passed by" (cf. NEB; note the first person
verbal forms in preceding verse and in the
following line).

Psa 37:37 Take note of the one who has integrity!

Observe the godly!70 For the one who promotes peace
has a future.71

tn Or "upright."


tn Heb "for [there is] an end for a man of

peace." Some interpret

'( akharit, "end")
as referring to offspring (see the next verse and
Psa 109:13; cf. NEB, NRSV).
Psa 37:38 Sinful rebels are totally destroyed;72 evil
men have no future.73
tn Or "destroyed together." In this case the
psalmist pictures judgment sweeping them away
as a group.


tn Heb "the end of evil men is cut off." As in v.

Psa 37:37, some interpret

'( akharit,
"end") as referring to offspring (see Psa 109:13).
The perfect verbal forms in v. Psa 37:38 probably
express general truths. Another option is that they
are used emphatically to state with certitude that
the demise of the wicked is as good as done.
Psa 37:39 But the LORD delivers the godly;74 he
protects them in times of trouble.75
tn Heb "and the deliverance of the godly [ones]
[is] from the LORD."

tn Heb "[he is] their place of refuge in a time of


Psa 37:40 The LORD helps them and rescues them;

he rescues them from evil men and delivers them, 76 for
they seek his protection.
tn The prefixed verbal forms with vav ()
consecutive carry on the generalizing tone of the
preceding verse.

(Psa 37:1 WTT)