The grass metaphor is the only thing close to a timeline that this psalm gives us on when the righteous reality will come into effect. When we go to God in our suffering, or go to God and ask “How long oh Lord?” like Psalm 13 cries out, we want a definitive answer. A definitive timeline of exactly how long until we see God’s justice. God doesn’t tell us this. But Psalm 37 assures us that it will happen. Psalm 37 tells us we are on the right side. Psalm 37 tells us that a day is coming when the wicked will be punished and they will regret being on the wrong side. It tells us that a day is coming when our past suffering will seem small in comparison with the present glory that we will experience within God’s blessing. The Old Testament Israelites were waiting to inherit the land, but we are waiting to inherit a kingdom, God’s kingdom. His rule and reign on earth both now and for all eternity, which the Lord Prayer tells us to pray for today (Matthew 6:10).
Lay down on your back and close your eyes. God, I give you everything that is on my mind. I give you everything I’m trying to solve. I give you all of my problems. I give you all of the world’s problems that are on my shoulders. I give you all the injustices. I give you the people who are against me. The problems I can’t solve. The people I’m waiting for. The stress and the strain. They are yours now. I take them off my shoulders and out of my mind and put them in your hands. I close your fingers around them. I now rest my mind in your presence. I rest in being with you. I rest in being your son/daughter. I rest in being a human being not a human doing.
Verse 18 tells us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. It’s important that we recognize how rare this claim is among world religions, both historical and contemporary. Our God cares for the broken. He cares for the oppressed. He cares for the abused. He cares for the impoverished. He cares! This is such a gift to each of us whom he cares for, and sets us on a path to embody his love to a crushed and brokenhearted world.
Even when I am walking through the darkest valley…through despair…through depression…through death itself…even in these times…you make me lie down in green pastures. You lead me beside quiet waters. The dark valley of death and the green pastures and quiet water exist simultaneously.
When we are going through suffering and trials, we so often forget that there is an eternal or spiritual reality that is as true, if not more true, than the temporary, physical reality we see in front of us. When our foundations in this physical reality get destroyed, it’s so easy to think it’s the end of the world. It’s so easy to think all hope is lost and to fall deep into despair. Psalm 11 reminds us that God’s job is never at stake. He’s never on the hot seat. God will judge the wicked, period. And God will rescue his children, period. God loves justice. God wins. God is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
The fifth psalm brings with it some familiar themes from the preceding four: God not answering prayer, lament, crying out to God, and struggle against bloodthirsty adversaries. Whenever Scripture repeats itself, this is a flashing red light to take notice, God is trying to make sure we really understand something. It’s ironic then, how these themes have been lost or minimized in much of modern day Western Christianity. We seem to have crafted a religion around comfort and God making you feel good. Like we are selling a product and we need to convince those in the pew that it works. In order to do so, we have to hide these more uncomfortable truths and only emphasize the happy ones.