Taking the Land: Psalm 37
Taking the land not only refers to Israel entering the promise land, but also believers entering into the fullness of all God has for them. In Psalm 37 there are at least six references to taking, dwelling in, or inheriting the land.
Every promise in the Bible whether spiritual, physical, financial, or emotional. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). Are you ready to lay hold of all God has for you?
- “Dwell in the land” (Psalm 37:3).
- “They shall inherit the earth” (Psalm 37:9).
- “The meek shall inherit the earth” (Psalm 37:11).
- “Those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth” (Psalm 37:22).
- “The righteous shall inherit the land” (Psalm 37:29).
- “He shall exalt you to inherit the land” (Psalm 37:34).
In the first five verses of Psalm 37 we have several key words that teach us how to take the land God has for us. There are two things we should not do, and five things we should if we are going to enter into all the fullness God has for us.
Psalm 37:1 says, “Do not fret.” Webster defines fret as “to cause emotional strain, be vexed or worried, an action of wearing away, agitation of mind.” When we are anxious or worry, we cause ourselves emotional strain and start to wear away spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. In such a state, we greatly hinder our ability to take (inherit) the land God has for us.
In Numbers 13-14, Israel spent too much time fretting over the giants instead of God’s power and ability to enable them to enter the land and experience victory over its inhabitants. How often do we do the same? We look at what’s coming against us instead of God’s power to overcome it. We think, “Am I going to make it? What am I going to do?” Pastors do this too. Someone doesn’t show up at church and we fret. Did I offend them? Did I make them mad? Consider the following encouraging verses:
- “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
- “So we may boldly say: The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me” (Hebrews 13:6)?
- “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (Timothy 1:7).
- “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
- In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus admonishes us at least five times not to worry or be anxious.
Be Not Envious
Psalm 37:1 also says, “Be not envious.” Envy and jealousy will destroy us. Proverbs 27:4 says, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” Envy has destroyed both individuals and churches. “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16). Envy begins in the heart and from there flows out of the tongue. James 3:6 says, “The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” Envy plus the tongue equals division in a body of believers. It defiles the entire body.
It usually starts simple then escalates. Someone my have been promoted in the church or is blessed in a certain way and jealousy ensues. “Who do they think they are? I should have received that. Why them and not me?” It can also go something like, “What do you think about the decision the leaders made, I’m not sure I agree with what the pastor said, what do you think?” Let’s crucify envy before it destroys us and the body of Christ (Romans 6:11). If someone is blessed, promoted or they get something we wanted, be happy for them. We are to “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). If someone is blessed, rejoice with them. Who knows, the next person to be blessed might be you.
Psalm 37:3 says, “Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” In Mark 1:16-20 the disciples left their lifestyle, family, friends, and career to follow Jesus. James and John “left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants to follow Him” (Mark 1:20). Their father had servants so they probably stood to inherit a very lucrative business.
Likewise, in Genesis 22 Abraham was willing to offer his only son trusting that God was “able to raise people even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19). How much do we really trust God? Isaac was the promised child from which Abraham was to become a great nation. God often asks us to surrender the very thing He promised us to see if we will trust Him completely.
When Peter recognized Jesus walking on the water he was willing to get out of the boat, step into the water and walk to Jesus. Peter is frequently criticized for getting his eyes off of Jesus and sinking, but to his credit he was the only one who got out of the boat. I’d rather step out into the stormy waters of life and go where Jesus is than sit in the safe boat with the rest of the disciples. What about you?
God is looking for those who will trust Him and be willing to risk everything. They are the ones who will inherit the fullness of all God has for them. We must take the risk and at least try. That’s faith. God may be speaking to you about something that frightens you. Fear is the opposite of faith. I’m not saying we should act foolishly, but we never know what we might miss out on if we refuse to step out in faith and try.
You may say, “What if it doesn’t work and I fail?” or “What if I step out in faith and sink?” What if it does work and you succeed? No matter what happens, there is one who will reach down and lift you up. Peter took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink, but when he called out to Him, Jesus lifted him up and Peter walked on the water with Jesus back to the boat.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3). Doing good has nothing do with our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 4:4-5), it’s the fruit of our salvation. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Doing good is a significant key to being able to take the land God has for us. The Word is clear concerning good works in the life of believers:
- “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).
- “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
- “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10).
- “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not – do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
According to Galatians 6:9 we will reap, inherit the land, and lay hold of all God has for us if we don’t faint, give up or quit. The condition is that we do not give up or become fainthearted in doing good. There are a number of things we see in Galatians 6 that we should do if we expect to inherit the land.
- Restore. “If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one” (Galatians 6:1). Restoration is the mandate of the church. It is the truly spiritual person who seeks to restore his fallen brother or sister and not condemn them. It’s our job to put our arm around the fallen, help them up, and encourage them not to give up.
- Bear one another’s burdens. We must support people who are burdened down with problems and cares. We are told, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Those of us who have gone through particular difficulties can support those who may be going through similar things (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We can also assist our leaders who carry the load of the ministry, as well as those bearing financial burdens, etc.
- Share. “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches” (Galatians 6:6). We must share with those who are over us in the Lord, let them know what their work means to us, and how much it benefits us.
- “If the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things” (Romans 15:27).
- “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17).
The context here deals with finances (1 Timothy 5:18) and “double honor” refers to double the finances or salary. If our pastor is doing a good job, they should be making at least as much as the average salary of the congregation (1 Corinthians 9:1-14). Also, we should give our leaders gifts on special occasions such as birthdays, vacations, Christmas, and at times give them a special gift just to let them know how much we appreciate them.
- Sow to the spirit. If you want to take the land you must sow to the spirit. “He who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8). Spend time in prayer, study the Word, witness, and fellowship with other Christians, etc.
- Reach out. “While we have opportunity, let us do good to all men” (Galatians 6:10). We must continue to reach out beyond ourselves. If we ever stop doing good to “all men” we will stop moving forward. Church leaders need to remember this. The church must be constantly reaching out beyond itself to the world around it. The moment we focus merely inward we become stagnant. Let’s use our imagination and think of new ways to touch the world.
- Support the church. While reaching out to “all men” we can’t forget “those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10). Get involved! For example, teach a class, usher, clean the church, or be on the worship team. Do something to support your congregation.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3). We must cultivate faithfulness within ourselves. The psalmist cried out, “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be, For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men” (Psalm 12:1). Proverbs 20:6 says, “Who can find a faithful man?” And again, “A faithful man will abound with blessings” (Proverbs 28:20). Faithfulness is a key ingredient to laying hold of all God has for us (1 Corinthians 4:2, Luke 16:10-12, Ephesians 1:1, Ephesians 1:3, Matthew 25:29).
This can also refer to our feeding on God’s faithfulness. The New King James Version translates this “feed on His faithfulness.” Had the twelve spies in Numbers 13-14 spent their time feeding on God’s faithfulness instead of fretting over the challenge that was before them, Israel would have entered the promise land forty years earlier. Spend time meditating on scripture pertaining to God’s faithfulness (2 Timothy 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, Lamentations 3:22-23). Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your remembrance all the times God has been faithful in your life and begin to dwell on them. You will soon find your faith being renewed and even surging to new heights.
Delight in the Lord
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” Delight not dread. Run to the Lord, not from Him. Develop a hunger and thirst for Him. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2).
Enjoy Him and His presence. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him” (Psalms 34:8)! We shouldn’t dread spending time with Him in His Word and prayer but cherish it as Mary did (Luke 10:38-42). Many of us are like Martha and too busy “serving the Lord” to take time enjoying Jesus’ presence. (See also Psalm 119:103, Jeremiah 15:16).
Commit to the Lord
Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” A couple may meet and enjoy each other’s presence, but the relationship will not continue without commitment. We may enjoy spending time with God in prayer, praise, His Word, and fellowship (church), but if we’re going to continue doing so it will take discipline and commitment.
Alexander the Great was on his final conquest. His scouts told him about one city he had to conquer if his conquest was to be successful. It was a small city and very fortified. It was built with high walls and surrounded by three cliffs approximately one hundred feet high. He left for the city with one hundred of his personal guards. Approaching the city, he demanded its immediate surrender. From the top of the wall, the king responded saying they were well fortified and had enough provision to withstand an attack for months if necessary.
Alexander said nothing but simply motioned to his guards. They immediately lined up single file toward one of the cliffs. He gave them a second signal and they started marching toward the cliff. One marched off the cliff to his death, then two, three, four, five, six and finally with one swoop of his hand, they stopped prior to the final one going off the cliff. Without saying a word, Alexander looked up at the king. The king came off the wall, opened the gate and surrendered. When asked why he surrendered, he said he knew there was no way he could withstand an attack with such dedicated and committed soldiers.
What if the church had such dedicated and committed followers? Imagine what kind of fear it would strike in the powers of darkness. The impact it would make on our world would be phenomenal. God help us build such an army in these last days. Let’s recommit ourselves to take the land God has set before us. God’s promise to us is still, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you” (Joshua 1:3).