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"Fret Not Thyself" (Psa. 37:).
pp. 140, 141
The English word "fret" comes from the Anglo-Saxon fretan = to gnaw. The Hebrew
word used here means to burn, to kindle (Gen. 44: 18, Num. 11: 33). The LXX
translates the Hebrew by parazēloō. This word is also used in the Greek translation of
Deut. 32: 21, I Kings 14: 22, and Psa. 78: 58, and in the N.T. in Rom. 10: 19,
11: 11 & 14. It is therefore very evident that the command "Fret not thyself" in
Psa. 37: must not be rendered by the English idea of to fret, to be peevish, to mourn,
or to grieve.
One has only to look at the context of the command in Psa. 37: to see that the
word contains the thought of envy and jealousy. It is not the fretting because of the
wickedness of men, but fretting because of their prosperity. It is not the overburdened
mourner that is addressed, but the believer, tempted by the temporal successes of the
ungodly, to leave the pilgrim pathway. In verse 7 this thought finds expression:--
"Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who
bringeth wicked devices to pass."
This kind of fretting leads to evil. Verse 8 shows this by immediately following with:-
"Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in anywise TO DO EVIL."
This fretting is the result of forgetting, and of shortness of vision. David assures us
that those successful wicked men
"shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb" (verse 2).
Later, in verses 35 and 36, he enlarges upon this saying:--
"I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found."
Instead of envying the wicked and their successes, the Psalmist urges the more
excellent way of trust in the Lord.
"Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the DESIRES OF THINE
HEART. Roll thy way upon the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall BRING IT TO
PASS . . . . . Be silent to the Lord, and wait patiently for Him" (verses 4-7).
What words are here! How they breathe the very atmosphere of quiet confidence and
simple trust! "Delight thyself"; how much better this than "fretting thyself"! "Roll thy
way" instead of bearing the burden alone. "Be silent"; "wait patiently"; what holy
Peace with God is unalterable. The enjoyment of that peace is another thing.
Phil. 4: 5-7 is a far-off echo of Psa. 37::--
"Be anxious for nothing, in everything by prayer . . . . . with thanksgiving . . . . . AND
THE PEACE OF GOD . . . . ."
Fret no thyself.