(8) Refrain from anger and forsake wrath. Do not fret. (It leads) only to evil, (9) for evildoers shall be cut off. But those who wait for Yahweh will inherit the land (10) for, in just a little while, the wicked one (will be) no more. Though you look carefully for his place, (he will) not (be there). (11) But the humble will inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. (12) The wicked one plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him. (13) The Lord laughs at him, for he sees that his day is coming. (14) The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright. (15) Their swords will pierce their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
Several terms in the first four verses of this segment are repetitions of words found in the opening stanza, emphasizing its message. First, we encounter “do not fret” (vs. 8), the same phrase found in both verses 1 & 7. The repetition of “evildoers” (vs. 9) harkens back to the “evildoers” of verse 1. Also the command “to wait for Yahweh” (vs. 9) recalls verse 7 where we are told to “be still and wait patiently for him.” Twice we encounter “inherit the land” (vss. 9 & 11) as an echo of “dwell in the land” (vs. 3). Twice, we are told that the wicked will disappear, “be no more” and “will not be there” (vs. 10), referencing the grass that withers and the green herb that fades (vs. 2). Finally, we are given the promise that the humble will “delight” themselves in abundant peace (vs. 11), a reminder of the earlier command, “Delight yourself in Yahweh” (vs. 4).
In the final four verses, David mentions the “wicked” twice (vss. 12 & 14). First, we read how the wicked person plots against the righteous (vs. 12). He “draws the sword and bends the bow” to attack him (vs. 14). Then we see the Lord laughing at these vain efforts of the wicked (vs. 13) because their own swords will be used against them and their bows will be broken in defeat (vs. 15).
I. Rather than fretting about the wicked, trust in Yahweh. (8-11)
II. Yahweh will frustrate the plans of the wicked. (12-15)
Because of Yahweh’s protection against the wicked, the righteous need not fret when they entrust themselves to his loving care.
The American author, Mark Twain, gives us a memorable definition of worry, translated as “fret” in our psalm (vs. 1, 7, & 8): “Interest paid in advance on a debt you will never owe.” Worry is simply an unwarranted, pointless preoccupation for the believer. Still many of us waste precious hours and needlessly expend emotional energy wondering, “What if this or what if that happens?” God has called us to live not in the imaginary world of the “what ifs” but in the real world of “what is.” The Hebrew word translated “fret” comes from the root word for “kindle” or “burn.” When we worry, we light a fire that smolders inside us, slowly consuming us from within.
We can easily understand why unbelievers might be consumed with worry. They have no one beside themselves, apart from family and friends, to look after them or take care of their needs if something were to happen to them. However, those who know Yahweh have no such excuse. We have a loving and caring Father who has promised to protect us, provide for our needs, and do whatever is necessary to preserve our spiritual wellbeing in the midst of whatever circumstances we may face. We have no justifiable reason to fret about our lives. When we worry, we betray our lack of faith in the one who called us to trust in his loving care. Peter’s great promise challenges us to banish all our fears: “Cast all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).