Psalm 37:1-38 – Why Fret When You Can Have Faith?

Why Fret When You Can Have Faith?

Psalm 37:1-38

READ: Psalm 37 –responsively


SING: “When lawless people thrive” [P.37]



Why worship, when we can worry?

Why trust when we can fuss.

Why pray to God when we can pester our friends / neighbours / family?

When we first hear questions like that we tend to think, “Well, why would anyone choose worrying, fussing and pestering over worshipping, trusting and praying?”

That is a good question. Why would anyone choose the weaker response over the stronger one?

Yet we do it, and more often than we like to admit.

All of those questions can be summed up in one question.

Why choose faith when we can fret?”

Psalm 37 addresses the issue of faith verses fretting.

Why choose faith, when we can fret?

It’s a long Psalm and we are going to dip into it!!!


1. God tells us to have faith rather than fret over the things of the world.

Psalm 37:1            1  Do not fret because of evil men

or be envious of those who do wrong; (NIV)


Simple and straight forward, right? Not exactly.

Some might translate it so, “We don’t need to do anything when we see evil in the world.”

I don’t think David, the Psalmist meant that we should sit back and do nothing when we see evil. That we should never be concerned about anything, let alone the things that are wrong in the world. If you have a love for God, you will be concerned. You will see people living in a way that can lead to death and destruction and you will be concerned for their mortal safety, and for their eternal salvation.

Not DOING anything is not the correct response, so what does it mean, “…not to fret”?

The Hebrew word translated here as fret is ‘charah’ {khaw-raw’} and it means;

‘ be hot, furious, burn, become angry ..’

The dictionary defines “fret” – to gnaw, to make or become rough, to wear away.

So when David says, “Do not fret…”, he’s really telling us not to let our emotions run away with us so that they begin to gnaw away at the very fabric of our faith in God.

Q> How would you define the different between fretting and being legitimately concerned?

Q> WHAT THINGS cause us to fret?

Some things just happen – no one’s fault directly. Accidents / illness etc.

In these we need to trust God –

ILLUS.: When I was diagnosed with a terminally illness 5 years ago — anxious / concerned / fretted etc …. Slow realisation [very slow] that God knows .. I can trust my family and their future to him. Doesn’t mean I become passive and do nothing to help myself …


BUT I don’t think that this psalm is primarily about things that ‘just happen’.

The wrongs he is concerned about here are those caused by others.

If your life is anything like mine, it is full of the unexpected. Those issues that catch you broadside and make you shake your head in bewilderment as to how you’re going to deal with it.


Sometimes, if we let them, those issues can cause us to go into a tailspin of fret and worry, especially when the issue is because of someone else’s wrong doing.


This fretting can take one of two forms in our lives.

  • Sometimes we respond with, (sounding worried, wringing hands.…) “Oooo, now what am I going to do? How can I get myself out of this mess?”
  • Sometimes we respond with, (with an evil, menacing lilt) “What am I going to do? I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to get even, that’s what I’m going to do

One is to be paralysed with fear, and the other is to be paralysed with vengeance.

Either way, it’s not good and will only cause you trouble in the end.

We need to follow David’s instruction to the Israelites, “Do NOT fret… because of those who do you wrong…”


SING: “What a friend we have in Jesus” [P.614]



….because you are taking things into your own hands, as if you can come up with some fantastic solution to the problem.

OUR HUMAN SOLUTION…. the person who has harmed you gets repaid, and taught such a lesson that they wouldn’t dare retaliate. And on top of that, you get to feel vindicated, and if everything works out well, you can still use this against them in the future if you need some leverage, and there will be absolutely no ill effects to come back on you.

I’ve had a limited time on this earth, only 40-something years, and I’ve yet to see that kind of solution work out the way we think it’s going to.


Our thoughts of, “How can I get myself out of this“, “How can I get even?”, or “How can I pay them back?” can only lead to more trouble. They stem from self-pity and will lead us into doing something in retaliation. Repaying evil for evil has only one winner… the devil.

David tells us in Psalm 37:8 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;

do not fret — it leads only to evil. (NIV)


Here’s how it works.

Someone does you wrong – so you do something wrong in return, just to keep things even. Then they in turn do something else to you to pay you back, and before you know it people are getting hurt and they don’t know why. They don’t remember what started it, and they’re not sure why they should be angry, they just know they should hate the other person and his family, and his friends.

You see, the fretting-payback mentality isn’t confined to one person hating another. It affects the entire life of both the hated, and the one doing the hating. Their families, their employment, and their faith.


If you find yourself in this type of hate vs. hate relationship, we need to have some simple answers to very real questions.

Eventually if you’re involved in this kind of feud, you might well ask yourself…

How can I get myself out of this?” YOU probably can’t, but God can.

Or you might ask…

How can I pay that person back for what they’ve done?” YOU shouldn’t. God should.


We live in a blame culture – if something goes wrong someone must pay. Now of course there is place for genuine restitution and compensation [a biblical principle] but that is not the same as vengeance – it can be a fine line – we need to be careful.


2THES 1:6&7 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you, and give relief to you who are troubled…

Once you really understand that God IS in control, that He IS just, that He WILL pay back those who trouble you and He WILL give you relief, you begin to realise, “What else is there to fight about?”


It is much better to commit your way to the Lord and trust in him, than it is to commit your way to paying someone back for some wrongdoing.

PS 37:5-6 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

There really is no need to fret.



Remember the chorus we used to sing as kids in SS?

Why worry when you can pray

Trust Jesus he’ll be your stay; (He’ll lead the way)?

Don’t be a doubting Thomas,

Rest firmly on his promise,

Why worry, worry, worry, worry

When you can pray!                       SING – if known!!

“If something is too small to be turned into a prayer it is too small to be made into a burden.” Corrie ten Boom


SING: “Be still my soul” [P.754]


Don’t fret, we don’t need to. We can do something else instead. We can have faith in God. We can TRUST Him. Why?



Because of His promises, and His faithfulness toward us.

Let’s go back to Psalm 37 and look at some of God’s promises. Psalm 37:23-31

23 If the LORD delights in a man’s way,

he makes his steps firm;

24 though he stumble, he will not fall,

for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old,

yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken

or their children begging bread.

26 They are always generous and lend freely;

their children will be blessed.

27 Turn from evil and do good;

then you will dwell in the land for ever.

28 For the LORD loves the just

and will not forsake his faithful ones.

They will be protected for ever,

but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;

29 the righteous will inherit the land

and dwell in it for ever.

30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,

and his tongue speaks what is just.

31 The law of his God is in his heart;

his feet do not slip. (NIV)




Fretting is for those who have no faith in God. Who don’t recognise their own weaknesses and try to deal with everything according to their OWN understanding.

V.1 Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;… Why? Because the Master has the Master-Plan and he says that He will deal with the wicked.

Instead, we should trust in the Lord… Why? For the same reason. The Master has the Master plan, and he promises us strength in times of trouble, security, and most importantly, and he says he will reward the righteous.

To those who rely on His strength and wisdom and mercy and grace, he promises us a future with him, eternal salvation.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

So why fret… when you can have faith?


How can we be sure our faith is well-founded?

“Because he lives I can face tomorrow..”


“SING: “God sent his Son” [P.895]


OPEN PRAYER:           {Search me O God – P.829}

{Soften my heart – P.835}

{Reign in me – P.766}


SING: “Leave God to order all your ways” [P.761]



Father in heaven, Lord of all glory

We come before you with our worries, our fears, and all those things that would gnaw away at our faith.

We thank you Lord that you are our strength in times of trouble.

We thank you that our salvation comes through you.

Teach us to put all our trust in you, Lord.

Teach us to say, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”

Lord, if there are any who haven’t put their trust in you, I pray that they would do so today. So that they too might have the peace that passes all understanding, and will know that their future is safely in your hands.

In Jesus mighty name…



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