The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 37

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 18, 2013


THIS psalm is alphabetical and, like the other alphabetical psalms, somewhat loosely constructed. Its general theme, like that of Pss 1, 47, and 71, is the method of divine retribution. The poet does not go deeply into the problem of Providence; for him the prosperity of the godless is only apparent; the good, in fact, always prosper; the wicked, in truth, always suffer. If the wicked do seem, at times, to prosper, it is only for a moment, and without security. Their prosperity is, therefore, a delusion. Hence the pious must not be misled by it to emulate the wickedness of the godless, or to be impatient at their apparent success. In the end the pious will have all blessings; the wicked, with their children, will be swept away, and the God-fearing shall find themselves in undisturbed and abiding possession of the land of Israel. The psalmist’s philosophy of life is thus the naive optimism which is so bitterly rejected by Job when his three friends put it forward as a solution of the riddle of Job’s condition (Job 4 ff.). The psalm contains many echoes of Job, Proverbs, and of other Psalms. The psalmist, like the writers of the Sapiential books, takes the attitude of a father or a teacher giving counsel to a son or disciple. Hence, as in Proverbs, the frequent use of the second person singular in the address.

This poem also is regarded by modern criticism as post-exilic by some critics even as Maccabean.


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