Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Lectionary Reflection Year C, Proper 22, Psalm

Psalm 37:1-18

Do not fret yourself because of evildoers; * do not be jealous of those who do wrong. For they shall soon wither like the grass, * and like the green grass fade away. Put your trust in the LORD and do good; * dwell in the land and feed on its riches. Take delight in the LORD, * and he shall give you your heart's desire. Commit your way to the LORD and put your trust in him, * and he will bring it to pass. He will make your righteousness as clear as the light * and your just dealing as the noonday. Be still before the LORD * and wait patiently for him. Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers, * the one who succeeds in evil schemes. Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; * do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil. For evildoers shall be cut off, * but those who wait upon the LORD shall possess the land. In a little while the wicked shall be no more; * you shall search out their place, but they will not be there. But the lowly shall possess the land; * they will delight in abundance of peace. The wicked plot against the righteous * and gnash at them with their teeth. The Lord laughs at the wicked, * because he sees that their day will come. The wicked draw their sword and bend their bow to strike down the poor and needy, * to slaughter those who are upright in their ways. Their sword shall go through their own heart, * and their bow shall be broken. The little that the righteous has * is better than great riches of the wicked. For the power of the wicked shall be broken, * but the LORD upholds the righteous.
Reflection on Psalm 37:1-18 by John G. Gibbs, PhD

It really is a challenge to be committed to eco-justice and at the same time maintain ones inner stability, ones focus, and ones hope. Psalm 37 has some words of wisdom for us, both negatively and positively. Do not fret (vv. 1, 7, 8), do not be envious (v. 1), refrain from anger (v. 8). Not even when wrongdoers are getting away with it, not even when some folks borrow, and do not pay back (v. 21; as with Enron, WorldCom, and other corporations that in effect robbed their shareholders) even then: do not fret. Nelson Mandela was in prison 27 years, and during that long oppression he developed enormous inner strength, and extraordinary capacity to hold on to hope. As his autobiography shows, he overcame despair and bitterness, and lived one day at a time according to his inner compass, while nurturing the community of his peers in prison. He had 3 of his jailers present by special invitation at his inaugural as the first Black President of South Africa. He models the kind of approach that eco-justice requires of us in this oppressive time of corporate welfare, dismantling of environmental safeguards, political cynicism, and the spread of hopelessness and escapism within an alienated electorate. Trust in the Lord, and do good (v. 3); take delight in the Lord (v. 4); be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him (v. 7); wait for the Lord, and keep to his way (v. 34). Even though we live in a time of contraction rather than expansion, a time of growing imbalance between rich and poor, a time that is dominated by 9/11 rather than by any manifest destiny, even though all this is the case, and especially because this is the case: trust in God, delight in the Creators character and purposes. Keeping on keeping on in His way is the positive orientation of eco-justice.

Copyright Statement

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Habakkuk 1:1-13; 2:1-4
Psalm 37
this page
New Testament 2 Timothy 1:1-14
Gospel Luke 17:5-10

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2003. John and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

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This page last updated 04-09-22.