One of my dearest Christian friends told me her most embarrassing moment was when a non-Christian friend asked her a question about the Bible.
“So, what’s the Bible about? Tell me in 30 seconds or less,” she asked. Her question wasn’t argumentative or defensive. She was asking out of curiosity.
Feeling the glare of a spotlight, my friend said she stammered for a bit and then admitted she needed more time. But I think if my friend had Ps. 37 tucked away in her pocket, her conversation with her friend would have turned out much differently.
Psalm 37 is a big picture psalm.
In it David gives us a bird’s eye view of what God is up to in the Bible: God chose his people to live in his kingdom and to receive blessings.
Key to the Big Picture is the role God gave his people as his servants – to show the surrounding nations what life in God’s kingdom looked like. But very often, Israel failed miserably in this role, which is why God sent a perfect Servant to sacrifice himself on their behalf so God’s people could be the servants God intended.
Scholars call the Big Picture the Grand Biblical Narrative – how God chose a people, saved them from sin through his Son, and restored them (and the rest of creation) to himself. And it’s important to know it because all Scripture – all 66 books -point to this one narrative.
And although my friend was embarrassed, I don’t think her experience is too uncommon. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I began to put the larger pieces of Scripture together. And it was only in my seminary coursework that I saw the Big Picture emerge from the depths of God’s Word.
I think many of you are in the same boat. We tend to read the Scriptures as if they are segmented stories. Popular Bible studies tend to be organized topically effectively divorcing them from the larger story of Scripture.
So, why is the Big Picture of Scripture such a big deal?
When we read Scripture through the lens of the Big Picture, hope becomes clear.
Ps. 37 is a prime example of the big hope attached to God’s Big Picture. Because in light of the Big Picture, David is calling the people to trust that God has a plan.
In Ps. 37, the choice to trust looks like:
- Choosing to doing what God does (vs. 3a, 27, 30)
As believers we must strive to do good, knowing there is a just Judge.
- Choosing to dwell where God is (vs. 3b, 29, 31)
For the Israelites, this meant dwelling in the land of Canaan. For believers today, we demonstrate trust when we seek to dwell where God is so we might feed on his faithfulness (vs. 3b).
- Choosing to delight in who God is (vs. 23)
Believers experience total satisfaction in God and His kingdom. Trust means choosing not to seek out other kingdoms that appear better. It also means choosing not to look at the blessings of others and begrudgingly wonder if God has blessed others more or in better ways. Loving the Giver of good gifts more than the gifts themselves, is an act of trust.
While we wait for God to finish his plans for us, David says we are to:
- commit our ways to the Lord ( vs. 5, 30-31, 34)
- rest in him by waiting patiently (vs. 7, 34)
- cease from anger and forsake wrath (vs. 8)
- do not fret over enemies (vs. 8)
Why do these things? David gives us two reasons in Ps. 37:
1. Because God is just (vs. 9-22)
In the end, everything wrong in the world (wickedness and sin) will be punished. And God will make everything right again (vs. 9-22). God’s people will be rewarded with the peace of God’s presence forever (vs. 37)
2. Because God is faithful (vs. 23-40)
God will ensure that his people will be preserved. The honor of his name is at stake! The righteous King will be faithful to make his people righteous so they can serve as a light to the nations.
Verses 27-28 provide a great description of what righteousness looks like: one who does good, dwells with God, and desires after the things of God (justice and a love for God’s people and God’s law).
This is what is missing in the world and why the King must give his own righteousness to his people because they are unrighteous.
Ps. 37 opens and closes with trust. When we choose to trust in God and the Big Picture for making everything right again, we become living examples of the hope of his plans for the world.
It’s why the Big Picture yields big hope.
Dear Lord, thank you for your salvation and your righteousness. How I came to receive those gifts was a painful and costly process to you. You are Just and you are faithful. Help me choose to live in light of the blessings you’ve given me. I need help waiting on your time table, help choosing you over your gifts, and help delighting in the difficult ways you’ve set before me today. You are my strength today and every day. Don’t let go of me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
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