Psalm 36, 37&49

Getting on Track

In Chapter 13 of Jeremiah we read that God was going to take the nation into exile in order to break their pride. Today we are going to look at some Psalms that deal with the issue of pride and what to do about it.

There is a pattern of behavior that follows what a person believes. Judah had embraced idolatry. Paul tells us in Romans 1 that the idols are corrupted because they are made in the image of corruptible man. In our culture today we look to celebrities, athletes, or other people who achieve what looks like success or notoriety. We listen to their “wisdom” and at some level give them god-like status and power. But, they have a sin nature as well and often find themselves in a scandal.

 Psalm 36 begins by describing the behaviors of a man who has no fear of God.  He is impressed with himself and his “wisdom”.  His actions are described in verses 2-4.  Because he flatters himself he will likely be boastful and that is a problem.  A prideful person boasts of what he does and tends to attract the attention of the prideful, simple, naive, or young person.  The wise person sees the pattern and knows how the story is going to end.  But to those who are easily impressed with one who flatters himself and puts his trust in his “wisdom”, they too will produce the same pattern in their lives.

In verses 5-9 God’s character is contrasted with the man above.  The man who follows God’s wisdom will find that his life will follow a pattern as well.  This pattern also leads to an end.  In this case God’s wisdom is the fountain of life. Proverbs 13:14

By now it should be evident that who we hang out with and listen to is going to make a big difference in our quality of life.  David recognized this in verses 10&11 and he prays for protection from the man who does not fear God.  David seeks direction from God for his life. David knows that who we listen to and trust will result in the direction we will take in life. That leads us to Psalm 37.

King David writes this Psalm from firsthand experience.  Though we are not told of the event that brought this Psalm about it could have been the result of David looking back to the time when he was running for his life from King Saul.  David found himself just one step ahead of death as King Saul pursued him. In this difficult period of his life David learned to trust God.  He encourages us to do the same.

King Saul was a fearful yet prideful man.  Pride is often a mask for fear.  There is a hard shell of pride on the outside but no character on the inside, just fear and insecurity. Pride also isolates one from God.  A prideful man may speak of a relationship with God but at best it will be superficial because a prideful man trusts only in himself. 

Trusting in one’s self is always a spiral down.  That is what happened to King Saul.  He went from being called to be King by God to putting his trust in a witch whom earlier he had banished from the land, shortly before he was killed in battle.  In the process of spiraling down, because of pride, there is a process of stripping away little bits of a person’s character until there is nothing left.  

It is important to note that the very events that David went through with King Saul pursuing him actually built his character.  What was the difference?  David delighted in the Lord and each time the Lord delivered him from what seemed an impossible situation David learned to trust the Lord more. This is the lesson Judah will learn while they are in exile.

Often times we go through difficult situations.  God can use these events to develop our character and cause us to grow or we can take charge and rest on our pride and wisdom to deal with the event but that usually doesn’t come out well.  When those difficult situations come let’s commit them to the Lord and ask Him to grow us rather than fight and complain. Those who trust God realize that, even in difficult situations, God is doing a work in them rather than something is happening to them. It is decision time for Judah and for us. Who is going to be God in their lives and in ours?

In Psalm 49 we see the decision has been made.  In Psalms 42&43 we read of a person who is dealing with despair in his soul. The soul is within us and drives us to speak and act. An uneasy soul in despair can cause us to do some very foolish things or chase after things that don’t have any lasting value. A person may have a shell of pride but inside they are in torment.

Jesus asked in Mark 8:36&37 NKJV, “ …what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for His soul?”

How we answer this question will determine whether our faith is in this world or in the Lord.   Choose wisely.

Grace and Peace

Pastor Dave