Psalm 37
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
In the preceding Psalm the Psalmist found relief and hope in the presence of high-handed iniquity by the contemplation of the inexhaustible lovingkindness of God. Here he assumes the character of a teacher, and bids the godly man not be disquieted by the sight of the prosperity of the wicked, for they are doomed to speedy destruction, while enduring happiness is in store for the righteous. “Hence Tertullian calls the Psalm, providentiae speculum (A mirror of providence), Isidore, potio contra murmur (An antidote to murmuring), Luther, vestis piorum, cui adscriptum: Hic sanctorum patientia est (A garment for the godly, with the inscription, ‘Here is the patience of the saints’).” Delitzsch.

The prosperity of the wicked was one of the enigmas of life which most sorely tried the faith of the godly Israelite[13]. No light had as yet been cast upon the problem by the revelation of a future state of rewards and punishments. Sometimes, as we see in Psalms 73, he was in danger of losing all belief in the providential government of the world: at all times he was liable to be tempted to murmuring and envy.

[13] See Ochler’s Old Testament Theology, § 246.

It is with the more obvious and common danger that the Psalmist here deals. The consolation which he has to offer is of a simple and elementary kind. He affirms the popular doctrine of recompence and retribution which Job found so unsatisfactory. Trust in the Lord: wait His time: all will be well in the end: the wicked will be destroyed and the righteous rewarded. There is an element of truth in this doctrine, for God’s judgements are constantly distinguishing between the righteous and the wicked (Mark 10:30; 1 Timothy 4:8). The verdict of history and experience is, in the long run, in favour of righteousness. But the doctrine is inadequate, as Job felt, for retribution does not invariably and immediately overtake the wrong-doer in this world, nor is the righteous man always visibly rewarded.

In order, however, fairly to estimate the Psalmist’s teaching and its value for those whom he addressed, we must bear in mind that personal individuality was comparatively unrecognised in early ages, while the solidarity of the family was realised to an extent which we find it hard to understand. A man lived on in his posterity: his posterity represented him: and the instincts of justice were satisfied if the law of retribution and recompence could be traced in the destinies of the family if not of the individual.

The consolation here offered was no doubt real to the mass of the Psalmist’s contemporaries, in virtue of the element of truth which it contains. But it was only a partial and provisional solution of the problem. Through trials of faith and imperfect answers to their questionings God was on the one hand leading men to a truer ideal of happiness, on the other hand preparing them to receive the revelation of a future state of rewards and punishments. The author of Psalms 73 makes a distinct step forward. Though he still looks for the visible punishment of evil-doers, he is taught to find his own highest joy and comfort in fellowship with God, independently of the prospect of temporal felicity. The author of the Book of Job is carried still further, and forced to the conclusion that this world must be but one act in the drama of life.

The Psalm should be studied in connexion with Psalms 73 (cp. also Psalms 49) and the Book of Job. The unquestioning confidence of the teacher who speaks here presents a striking contrast to the touching record in Psalms 73 of faith sorely tried but finally victorious.

The close relation of the Psalm to the Book of Proverbs must also be noticed. It forms a connecting link between lyric poetry and the proverbial philosophy of the ‘Wise Men’ whose teaching was such an important influence in Israel. See especially Proverbs 10:27-32; Proverbs 24:15 ff. The promises of the Psalm should also be compared with the prophetic expectation of the Messianic age of peace and righteousness.

The Psalm is alphabetic in structure. The stanzas commence with the letters of the alphabet in regular succession, and usually consist of two distichs connected in sense. In three instances the stanza consists of a tristich instead of two distichs (Psalm 37:7; Psalm 37:20; Psalm 37:34); and in three instances it consists of five lines (Psalm 37:14-15; Psalms 25, 26; Psalms 39, 40).

The same fundamental ideas recur throughout; but four symmetrical divisions of Psalm 37:11, Psalm 37:9, Psalm 37:11, Psalm 37:9 verses respectively, in each of which a particular thought is prominent, may be observed.

i. Counsel to avoid murmuring, and trust in Jehovah (Psalm 37:1-11):

ii. For the triumph of the wicked is shortlived (Psalm 37:12-20):

iii. And the reward of the righteous sure and abiding (Psalm 37:21-31).

iv. The final contrast of retribution and recompence (Psalm 37:32-40).

A Psalm of David. Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
1. Fret net thyself] Lit., incense not thyself: be not angry or indignant or discontented.

neither be thou envious &c.] Neither be envious of them that do unrighteousness, and for the time prosper (Psalm 37:7). The severity of the temptation is attested by Psalm 73:3. The warning, repeated in Psalm 37:7-8, is found again in Proverbs 24:19. Cp. Proverbs 3:31; Proverbs 23:17; Proverbs 24:1. The phrase rendered in A.V. workers of iniquity is a different one from that in Psalm 36:12. It is the opposite of doing good (Psalm 37:3; Psalm 37:27). The LXX rendering is τοὺς ποιοῦντας τὴν ἀνομίαν, words which occur in Matthew 13:41 in a context which should be compared with this Psalm. Cp. 1 John 3:4.

1, 2. Stanza of Aleph, stating the theme of the Psalm;—an exhortation against discontent and envy at the prosperity of the wicked, on the ground that it is only transitory.

1–11. Warnings and counsels for times of temptation.

For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
2. The grass and the green herb are a common image for what is transient and perishable. See note on Psalm 37:20; and cp. Psalm 90:5 f.; Psalm 103:15 f.; Isaiah 40:6 ff.

be cut down] Or, fade. Cp. Job 14:2; Job 18:16 (R.V. marg.).

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
3, 4. Stanza of Beth. The antidote to envious discontent is patient trust in Jehovah, and perseverance in the path of duty. Render

Trust in Jehovah, and do good;

Dwell in the land, and follow after faithfulness:

So shalt thou delight thyself in Jehovah,

And he shall grant thee thy heart’s petitions.

Remain in the land of promise where God has placed thee: “the land of Jehovah’s presence, which has not only a glorious past, but a future rich in promise, and will finally become the inheritance of the true Israel in a more complete manner than under Joshua” (Delitzsch): there, and there alone, shalt thou find thy true satisfaction in Him. It would seem that the poorer Israelites, oppressed or driven from their homes by powerful neighbours (Psalm 36:11), were tempted to seek their fortunes in foreign lands, and forfeit their national and religious privileges. Cp. 1 Samuel 26:19.

Here, as in Psalm 37:9; Psalm 37:11; Psalm 37:22; Psalm 37:29; Psalm 37:34, the land is Canaan, the land of promise. The rendering of A.V. in Psalm 37:9; Psalm 37:11; Psalm 37:22, the earth, is misleading so far as the primary meaning of the Psalm is concerned.

It is best to take Psalm 37:3 as virtually a series of conditions in the form of exhortations, and Psalm 37:4 as the promise depending on the fulfilment of the conditions. The A.V. so shalt thou dwell, &c., is inadmissible on grammatical grounds: and though it is possible to render Delight thyself also &c., in Psalm 37:4, the balance of the clauses, and the parallels in Job 22:26, Isaiah 58:14 are decisive in favour of the rendering, so shalt thou delight thyself &c. The renderings of the last clause of Psalm 37:3, verily thou shalt be fed, or, feed securely (R.V. marg.) are in themselves questionable, and fall to the ground when the true construction of the verses is adopted. With follow after faithfulness (R.V.) cp. Psalm 119:30 (R.V.).

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
5. Commit &c.] Lit. Roll thy way upon Jehovah: shake off and devolve upon Him all the burden of anxiety for life’s course. Cp. Proverbs 16:3; 1 Peter 5:7.

and he shall bring it to pass] With forcible brevity in the Heb. simply, and HE (emphatic) will do (ipse faciet, Vulg.) all that is needful. Cp. Psalm 52:9; Psalm 119:126 : 1 Thessalonians 5:24. This verse combines Psalm 37:8; Psalm 37:31 of Psalms 22.

5, 6. Stanza of Gimel. The reward of faith.

And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
6. And he shall make thy righteousness go forth as the light,

And thy judgement as the brightness of the noonday.

The result of that divine working. The justice of thy cause has been hidden, but it shall shine forth like the sun rising out of the darkness of night; thy right has been obscured, but it shall be clear as the full light of the noonday. Cp. Job 11:17; Proverbs 4:18; Isaiah 58:10; Matthew 13:43.

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
7. Stanza of Daleth. The remedy for impatience.

Rest in the Lord] Or, Be still before (Heb. be silent to) the Lord (R.V. marg.), in the calmness of faith. Cp. Psalm 62:1; Psalm 62:5; and for illustration see Isaiah 7:4; Isaiah 30:15.

who bringeth wicked devices to pass] Lit. who doeth (cp. Psalm 37:1 b, and contrast Psalm 37:3; Psalm 37:5 b) crafty devices.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
8. Render with R.V., Fret not thyself, it tendeth only to evil-doing. Discontent is not only foolish and useless, but dangerous. It may lead the man who yields to it to deny God’s providence, and cast in his lot with the evil-doers. See Psalm 73:2 ff., Psalm 73:13 ff.

8, 9. Stanza of . The warning of Psalm 37:1-2 repeated and emphasised.

For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
9. the earth] Rather, as in Psalm 37:3, the land; and so in Psalm 37:11; Psalm 37:22; Psalm 37:29; Psalm 37:34. As the nations were “cut off” before Israel (Deuteronomy 12:29; Deuteronomy 19:1), that Israel might possess the Promised Land, so will the wicked be destroyed, that the true Israel may have undisturbed enjoyment of their inheritance. Cp. Psalm 25:13.

For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
10. Cp. Psalm 37:36 : Isaiah 29:20.

his place] His abode. Cp. Job 7:10; Job 8:18; Job 20:9.

and it shall not be] Better, as R.V., and he shall not be.

10, 11. Stanza of Vâv; expanding the preceding verse.

But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
11. The promise is reaffirmed in a larger sense in the beatitude of Matthew 5:5, the language of which reproduces the rendering of the LXX here: οἱ δὲ πρᾳεῖς κληρονομήσουσιν γῆν.

in the abundance of peace] Cp. Psalm 72:7; Psalm 119:165; Isaiah 32:17.

The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
12. The wicked deviseth mischief against the righteous. Cp. Psalm 37:7; Psalm 37:32.

gnasheth &c.] Like a furious wild beast, eager to seize its prey. Cf. Psalm 35:16.

12, 13. Stanza of Zayin. The impotent rage of the wicked.

12–20. Disappointment and destruction are the destiny of the wicked.

The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
13. Doth laugh (Psalm 2:4 note) … for he hath seen. The punishment of the wicked has been foreseen and foreordained from the first.

his day] The appointed day of retribution and ruin. Cp. Psalm 137:7; Obadiah 1:12; 1 Samuel 26:10; Job 18:20.

The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
14. Sword and bow are not merely figurative expressions for any means of inflicting injury. The Psalm deals with a state of society in which the poor and defenceless were in constant danger of actual violence (Psalm 37:32). Cp. Proverbs 1:10 ff.

the poor and needy] Or, the afflicted and needy. See notes on Psalm 9:12; Psalm 9:18 : and cp. Amos 8:4; Isaiah 32:7; Jeremiah 22:16.

such as be of upright conversation] Lit. the upright of way: those whose life and conduct are upright. Cp. Psalm 119:1. The LXX however reads upright in heart (Psalm 36:10, and often).

conversation, as in Psalm 50:23, has the obsolete sense of manner of life, behaviour.

14, 15. Stanza of Cheth. The machinations of the wicked recoil upon themselves. Cp. Psalm 7:15 ff.; Psalm 9:15 ff.

Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
16. Better is a little that the righteous hath

Than the abundance of many wicked. (R.V.)

Abundance, lit. tumult (a different word from that in Psalm 37:11), suggests the idea of noisy, ostentatious opulence. Cp. Proverbs 15:16; Proverbs 16:8; and Tob 12:8; “a little with righteousness is better than much with unrighteousness.” The P.B.V. great riches of the ungodly follows the LXX, Vulg. and Jer.: but the present Heb. text cannot be so rendered.

16, 17. Stanza of Teth. The nature of true wealth.

For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.
17. For the arms &c.] All the power which they have misused for evil will be rendered impotent. Cp. Psalm 10:15; Job 38:15.

upholdeth] When the wicked strives to make him fall (Psalm 37:14), and at all times. See Psalm 37:24; Psalm 37:31. Cp. Psalm 3:5; Psalm 54:4; Psalm 71:6.

The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
18. Jehovah knoweth, and the Omniscient is also the All-Sovereign (see on Psalm 1:6), the days of the perfect: each fraction of the lives of those who are devoted to Him (see on Psalm 15:2), with all that it brings. Cp. my times (Psalm 31:15); Matthew 6:8.

and their inheritance shall be for ever] The righteous man lives in his posterity, who continue in possession of the ancestral inheritance, while the posterity of the wicked perish (Psalm 37:28; Psalm 37:38; Psalm 34:16). The Psalmist’s view is still limited to earth (cp. Psalm 37:19). The eternal inheritance reserved in heaven is beyond his horizon.

18, 19. Stanza of Yôd. Jehovah’s care for the godly.

They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
19. Cp. Job 5:19-20.

in the evil time] R.V. in the time of evil, i.e. calamity.

But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
20. Stanza of Kaph. The end of the wicked.

the enemies of the Lord] For His people’s enemies are His enemies. Cp. Psalm 92:9.

as the fat of lambs] A rendering derived from the Targum. But the consumption of the fat of the sacrifice upon the altar would be a strange simile for the evanescence of the wicked: and we must render as the excellency of the pastures, or, (R.V.) as the splendour of the meadows. The gay show of flowers, so quickly vanishing, is an apt emblem for the short-lived pomp of the wicked.

The force of the comparison is hardly realised in our moist northern climate, where verdure is perpetual. “But let a traveller ride over the downs of Bethlehem in February, one spangled carpet of brilliant flowers, and again in May, when all traces of verdure are gone; or let him push his horse through the deep solid growth of clovers and grasses in the valley of the Jordan in the early spring, and then return and gallop across a brown, hard-baked, gaping plain in June, … and the Scriptural imagery will come home to him with tenfold power.” Tristram’s Natural History of the Bible, p. 455. Cp. Psalm 37:2; Matthew 6:29-30; James 1:10-11.

they shall consume &c. Lit. they are consumed; in smoke (or, like smoke) are they consumed away. Smoke is in itself a natural figure of speedy and complete disappearance (Hosea 13:3): possibly, however, the idea of the preceding line is continued, and we are to think of “the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven” (Matthew 6:30). The perfect tense, as in Psalm 36:12, forcibly expresses the realising certainty of faith.

The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
21. At first sight it may seem that the Psalmist intends to contrast the dishonesty of the wicked with the liberality of the righteous. But Psalm 37:22 makes it clear that this is not the meaning. Looking forward, he foresees the future which awaits them. He sees the wicked man falling into debt and forced to contract loans which he cannot repay, while the righteous man has enough and to spare, and makes a bountiful use of his wealth. The promise to Israel as a nation finds its analogy within the nation (Deuteronomy 15:6; Deuteronomy 28:12; Deuteronomy 28:44).

sheweth mercy] Better as R.V., dealeth graciously. Cp. Psalm 37:26.

21, 22. Stanza of Lamed. The wicked are impoverished, while the righteous are enriched. Cp. Proverbs 3:33.

21–31. God’s care for the righteous.

For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
22. For &c.] The wicked man’s ruin and the righteous man’s ability to do good proceed respectively from the curse and the blessing of God.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
23. It seems best to take Psalm 37:23 in close connexion with Psalm 37:24, as (virtually) the condition of the promise:

When a man’s goings are established of Jehovah,

And he delighteth in his way;

Though he fall &c.

The second line may be understood of Jehovah’s satisfaction in the good man’s life (He delighteth in his way: cp. Psalm 18:19; Psalm 22:8); or of the good man’s willing acceptance of Jehovah’s guidance (he delighteth in His way). The latter explanation is supported by Proverbs 10:29, which occurs in a context parallel to this Psalm. Cp. Psalm 37:34; Psalm 119:35.

23, 24. Stanza of Mem. God’s directing and upholding care.

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
24. shall not be utterly cast down] Or, shall not lie prostrate. Cp. Proverbs 24:16.

upholdeth him with his hand] Better, as R.V. marg., upholdeth his hand. Cp. Psalm 37:17; Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 51:18.

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
25, 26. Stanza of Nûn. An appeal to the experience of a long life in confirmation of the preceding stanzas. He has never seen the righteous permanently deserted by God, or his children reduced to homeless beggary (Psalm 109:10). Cp. Psalm 37:28; Psalm 37:33; Psalm 9:10; Genesis 28:15. Temporary impoverishment and apparent abandonment for a time need not be supposed to be excluded.

He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
26. All the day long he dealeth graciously and lendeth (R.V.). Cp. Psalm 37:21; Psalm 112:5. The righteous not only have abundance, but know how to use it (Isaiah 32:5-8).

27, 28 a., b. Stanza of Samech.

Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
27. Once more the teacher addresses his disciple, as in Psalm 37:3 ff. The first line is identical with Psalm 34:14 a (see note): the second line is virtually a promise, and might be rendered so shall thou dwell &c. But as Delitzsch observes, the imperative retains its force in constructions of this type, as an exhortation to participate in the blessing by the fulfilment of the duty. Peaceable occupation of the land by successive generations is meant (cp. Psalm 37:29). The individual lives on in his descendants.

28 a. Cp. Psalm 33:5. For saints see note on Psalm 4:3.

28 c, d, 29. Stanza of Ayin. The verses are wrongly divided. It is evident from the regular structure of the Psalm that the last two lines of Psalm 37:28 together with Psalm 37:29 should form a stanza commencing with the letter Ayin. If the Massoretic text is sound, the Ayin is represented by the second letter of the word l’ôlâm, ‘for ever’,—the prefixed preposition l being disregarded, as is the prefixed and in Psalm 37:39. But a comparison of the LXX makes it all but certain that the first word of the verse has been lost, and a further corruption taken place in consequence[14]; and that the original reading was:

[14] The LXX reads thus: εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα φυλαχθήσονταιἄνομοι δὲ ἐκδιωχθήσονται (א B ἄμωμοι ἐκδικηθήσονται), καὶ σπέρμα ἀσεβων ἐξολοθρευθήσεται, ‘They shall be preserved for ever; but the lawless shall be driven out (א B, the perfect shall be avenged), and the seed of the ungodly shall be destroyed.’ The reading of the Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. appears to be a correction or corruption, and must be abandoned in favour of that found in (apparently) all other MSS., and supported by the Vulg., iniusti punientur. We have then the words ἄνομοι δὲ ἐκδιωχθήσονται, but the lawless shall be driven out, in addition to a rendering of the Massoretic text. These words might represent an original עַוָּלִים נִשְׁמְדוּ If the original reading (written defectively) was עולם לעלם נשמדו the unrighteous are destroyed for ever, the process of corruption is easily intelligible. עולם was omitted, either accidentally, from its resemblance to לעלם, or because the transcriber did not recognise a somewhat rare word, and supposed it to be an erroneous repetition. When once it had disappeared, the change of נשמִדו (destroyed) into נשמִרו (preserved) followed as a matter of course, ‘his saints’ in the preceding line being the only possible subject. The word עַוָּלִים does not occur elsewhere in the Psalter, but is found four times in the Book of Job, with which this Psalm is so closely connected. Cp. too the substantive עַוְלָה in Psalm 37:1. A case like this, in which the acrostic structure of the Psalm demands a correction for which the LXX supplies clear evidence, is a convincing argument for the temperate employment of the LXX for the correction of the Massoretic Text. This or some similar correction is adopted by most editors.

The unrighteous are destroyed for ever,

And the seed of the wicked is cut off.

With this reading a full stop must of course be placed after saints, and the couplet forms the antithesis to Psalm 37:29. The perfect tenses, as in Psalm 37:20 c, express the Psalmist’s conviction of the certainty of the event. Cp. Psalm 37:38. The addition in the P.B.V., the unrighteous shall be punished, comes from the LXX through the Vulgate. See note below.

For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
30. The mouth of the righteous meditateth wisdom,

And his tongue speaketh judgement.

Cp. Proverbs 10:31-32. The word rendered meditateth combines the ideas of meditation and meditative discourse. Vulg. meditabitur sapientiam. Cp. Psalm 1:2; Psalm 35:28; Joshua 1:8.

30, 31. Stanza of . The secret of security.

The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
31. Cp. Psalm 119:11. God’s law, treasured in his heart, regulates all his conduct. Without wavering or variation he pursues the path of right. Cp. Psalm 26:1; Psalm 73:2.

The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
32. Cp. Psalm 10:8 ff.: Proverbs 1:11 ff. The next verse shews that wrong by judicial corruption (Isaiah 5:13) as well as actual violence is meant.

32, 33. Stanza of Tsadi. Malice defeated.

32–40. The final contrast.

The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
33. will not leave him] Lit. will not forsake him, as in Psalm 37:28, and leave him in the hand, i.e. power, of the wicked.

nor condemn him &c.] Will not suffer him to be unjustly condemned. The explanation, that though men may condemn him unjustly, God the supreme judge will acquit him, does not satisfy the context. The Psalmist looks for a temporal deliverance.

Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
34. Stanza of Qoph. The Psalmist again addresses his disciple.

For a while he may be crushed and down-trodden, but ultimately he will be exalted and the wicked cut off.

keep his way] Cp. Psalm 37:33, note; Psalm 18:21.

thou shall see it] With satisfaction at the vindication of God’s righteous government. Cp. Psalm 52:6; Psalm 58:10-11. See Introd. p. xci.

I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
35. I have seen] Comp. the similar appeal to experience in Psalm 37:25; and the close parallel in Job 5:3.

in great power] Or, in his terribleness, inspiring terror by tyrannical oppression. Cp. the cognate verb in Psalm 10:18 (R.V.).

like a green bay tree] R.V. like a green tree in its native soil, some deeply-rooted giant of the primeval forest, apparently secure from all danger of sudden disturbance.

35, 36. Stanza of Resh. The transitoriness of the wicked. Cp. Psalm 37:10; Psalm 52:5 ff.; Job 8:16 ff

Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
36. Yet he passed away] R.V. But one passed by. Better, with LXX, Vulg., Syr., Jer.; And I passed by.

Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
37, 38. Stanza of Shin. The future of the wicked and the righteous.

Mark] I.e. observe. The P.B.V., Keep innocency, and take heed unto the thing that is right, follows the LXX, Vulg., Symm., Jer., Syr., Targ., in a doubtful rendering.

for the end &c.] R.V. for the latter end &c. But the marginal alternatives certainly give the right construction of the sentence: there is a reward (or, future, or, posterity) for the man of peace. Acharîth means ‘an after’, ‘a sequel’ (Proverbs 23:18; Proverbs 24:20): hence ‘reward’ or ‘posterity’; and Psalm 37:38 points to the latter sense here. ‘The man of peace’ lives on in his posterity: the wicked man’s family become extinct. P.B.V., for that shall bring a man peace at the last, appears to be a paraphrase of Jerome’s quia erit in extreinum viro pax.

But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.
38. But transgressors are destroyed together:

The posterity of the wicked is cut off.

Cp. Psalm 37:28; Psalm 109:13; Job 18:13-21. To the Israelite, with his strong sense of the continuity of life in the family, childlessness or the loss of posterity was a virtual annihilation. In the light of N.T. revelation the contrast between the ‘after’ of the righteous and the wicked is still more solemn and significant.

But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
39. their strength] R.V. their strong-hold (Psalm 27:1); or perhaps their asylum.

39, 40. Stanza of Tav. Jehovah’s faithfulness to His own.

And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.
40. And the Lord helpeth them, and rescueth them:

He rescueth them from the wicked, and saveth them,

Because they have taken refuge in him (R.V.).

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