Psalm 37:6, ‘He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.’
For me, a theological reflection begins with writing the immediate responses that a scriptural text may induce within our souls. I don’t offer these thoughts as an exegesis of a passage but simply as an extraction of one or two thoughts that immediately emerge from reading the text. (Exegesis is the formal/fancy way ministers/theologians interpret scripture.) If you are reading through Psalm 37 during Lent, then you will probably notice today’s text. (The forty days of Lent do not include Sundays.) I have been ‘chewing’ on this verse all morning, and I’ve been trying to articulate an immediate thought for today’s reflection, which has proved difficult. At any rate, here are my thoughts that I offer you in the hope that they will encourage your reflection.
Here’s what I’m thinking about this verse, within the greater context of Psalm 37 and in light of asking the Lord to reveal my hearts’ desire (verse 4): Righteousness and justice will be evident. Noticeable. Recognisable.
The prior verses describe a person’s life set on things of the present, particularly in God’s faithfulness, and not distracted by what other people may be doing. I imagine a farmer looking at other farms and wondering why their crops are growing compared to others. Perhaps they look at their neighbours’ farms and see luscious giant vegetables, green and ripe for the picking,while standing on what feels like dry unfertile soil. The farmer grows weary while doing good – that is, preparing the soil for the harvest to come – because they lose focus on their work while wishfully wondering how their neighbour has such a fruitful field. Both farmers do the same things: break the ground, fertilise, plant, water, and wait. Yet the neighbour’s land is productive and visibly so. If both farmers exact similar patterns, yet only one displays evidence, why is the other not producing?
This question can lead to several different thoughts. For instance: am I competent? Can I actually do this task? Others are doing better than me, so why am I not? These questions in and of themselves are not ‘bad’ but the thoughts they could produce may damage our weary souls. Trust me, I know all too well. Self-awareness helps know one’s capacity for a project, but sometimes these questions lead to self-deprecation. How can I love my neighbour well if I don’t love myself?
But here’s another thought – or maybe an example of a goodthought the question may expose – is: what if the problem of not producing fruit has little to do with my abilities and more to do with my lack of trusting God to give the increase? ‘Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love.’
For Paul wrote to the Corinthians regarding the impetus of one’s growth and evident fruits saying:
‘6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.’ (1 Cor. 3:6-9)
I want evidence of God’s working in me, but I believe that trust in His faithfulness to do so is often why I don’t see fruits. Focusing on others’ work misses the point of Psalm 37: “Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.” (Verse 3) I think a part of learning to know my heart’s desires is looking down at the ground where God planted me, trusting Him to give the increase my wandering heart.
When He does, it will be clearly evident, as the righteousness like light, or justice in the noon day. The light in verse six, to me, emphasizes the obvious evidence of God’s faithfulness in working in me. But I want evidence, and that my friends, is what the author of Hebrew’s says is the definition of faith: ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…’ (Heb. 11:1)
I saw a yellow daisy emerging in our front garden recently, and something about seeing that small yellow flower, only a few inches tall, reach for the sun’s warmth reminded me that evidence of God’s faithfulness is a lot closer than I think and see when I’m delighting myself in Him and in my own work.
My own field.
The ground the Lord has planted me in.
The supposed barren soil is bearing fruit – maybe small fruit – but fruit nonetheless.
Don’t give up. Trust God. He loves you.