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Daily Reformation, Psalm 37:1-7a

From the Reformer

This psalm, the title of which shows it to have been composed by David, contains most profitable instruction. Since the faithful, so long as they pursue their earthly pilgrimage through life, see things strangely confused in the world, unless they assuaged their grief with the hope of a better issue, their courage would soon fail them. The more boldly any man despises God, and runs to every excess in wickedness, so much the more happily he seems to live. And since prosperity appears to be a token of God’s favor towards the ungodly, what conclusion, it may be said, can be drawn from this, but either that the world is governed by chance, and that fortune bears the sovereignty, or else that God makes no difference between the good and the bad? The Spirit of God accordingly confirms and strengthens us in this psalm against the assaults of such a temptation. However great the prosperity which the wicked enjoy for a time, he declares their felicity to be transient and evanescent, and that, therefore, they are miserable, while the happiness of which they boast is cursed; whereas the pious and devoted servants of God never cease to be happy, even in the midst of their greatest calamities, because God takes care of them, and at length comes to their aid in due season. This, indeed, is paradoxical, and wholly repugnant to human reason. For as good men often suffer extreme poverty, and languish long under many troubles, and are loaded with reproaches and wrongs, while the wicked and profligate triumph, and are regaled with pleasures, might we not suppose that God cares not for the things that are done on earth? It is on this account that, as I have already said, the doctrine of this psalm is so much the more profitable; because, withdrawing our thoughts from the present aspect of things, it enjoins us to confide in the providence of God, until he stretch forth his hand to help those who are his servants, and demand of the ungodly a strict account of their lives, as of thieves and robbers who have foully abused his bounty and paternal goodness.

—John Calvin, Commentary on Psalms

Pulling It Together

“How can you be so content when you just got laid off?” It does not make sense to those who do not know God. Further, the unbeliever shakes his head when you give God the credit for your composure. It is no wonder. Because it is something he cannot reason, he also cannot acquire such composure on his own and that frustrates one who himself needs and desires peace. Even the Believer cannot really explain it and that only makes it, in a strange way, somewhat understandable. Believers cannot manufacture peace any more than anyone else. That Believers have something they admit they did not acquire of their own skill or industry ought to cause those who want to use their reason, to begin to understand that peace is not gotten hold of but instead, is given by God.

A calm soul comes from without; it is simply given to the one who asks. “Father, help me through this difficult time.” He does that, but he does far more than what you asked. Besides getting you through, he gets you through with peace—a peace that surpasses reason.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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