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Friday, September 13, 2013

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When I discovered Psalm 37 during my freshman year at Mount Vernon Academy, a boarding school in Ohio, it made a profound impression on me.  I memorized the first eight verses and can repeat them to this day.  

It’s message can be summarized by the song that became an unofficial anthem in Jamaica after Hurricane Gilbert struck the island in 1988--”Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Over and over Psalm 37 counsels “Don’t worry”-- “Do not fret because of evil doers. . . . Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way . . . . Do not fret--it only causes harm.”

I knew no evil doers at the Academy, but I had some fretting to overcome.  My parents were not wealthy.  I had to work many hours each week to care for my school bill.  My dresses were  limited and rather plain.  I did not envy those students who had nicer clothes than I.  It was hard, however I told myself not to fret over the very few who did not have to work and looked the other way from those of us who were not dressed as well as they.  Yes, I had a fretting problem that I had to overcome.

More significant than the Psalm’s counsel of what  NOT TO DO is the counsel of what to DO.  The ways Psalm 37 helped me not to fret, were the positive commands that said,  “Be happy”-- “Trust in the LORD and do good. . . . Delight yourself also in the LORD. . . . Commit your way to the LORD . . . . Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.”  As I meditated on the positive counsels in Psalm 37, the Lord helped me to quit fretting and to be happy.

The promises given to those following the Lord’s commands also helped me:  “Delight yourself  also in the LORD  and HE SHALL GIVE YOU THE DESIRES OF YOUR HEART.” 

I claimed that promise.  One of the desires of my heart was to be a good student.  In spite of having to work many hours each week, the Lord helped me to learn and make good grades.  This continued through college and graduate school.  

“Those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. . . . And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”   The counsels and promises of Psalm 37 that I discovered  my freshman year at the Academy can help all of us through every difficulty and fill us with peace now and always. 

Helen E. Sauls

Retired Associate Professor

Southern Adventist University