Psalm 37. A prayer that invites us to persevering hope

For some hours a sort of deluge has been enveloping everything and the horizon that until recently stretched far along the ridges of the mountains has disappeared. Could this be the spirit with which to read Psalm 37, which seems an endless lament in which those who pray, echoing the words of Job or Ecclesiastes, ask God for an account of why the wicked seemingly continue to prosper? A prayer that invites us to persevering hope. “Do not be irritated by the wicked, do not envy the evildoers. Like grass they will soon wither; like the green of the lawn they will wither. Trust in the Lord and do good: you will inhabit the earth and graze there safely. Seek joy in the Lord: He will fulfill the desires of your heart. Entrust your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act ”(vv. 1-5). As in the first Psalm, as in many passages of biblical wisdom, a crossroads arise before man and the mystery of the freedom that the Lord leaves him in doing good or evil, as always gives chills. “A little while longer and the wicked one disappears: you look for his place, but he is no more” (v. 10). How wise is this verse! It seems like today’s encouragement from a father who wants his son not to get down on him if he too has seen injustices, or is tempted to believe that only those who are clever emerge and make it. Nothing seems to have changed for millennia and yet “The poor will inherit the land and enjoy great peace” (v. 11). But where is this promised land located? For the Jewish brothers we know what concreteness this expression has, but the same Psalm we are reading helps us to interpret the earth as a symbolic, existential, eschatological place. It is the Kingdom, the one to which we all tend, the one that Jesus himself announces using precisely an echo of the psalmodic verse “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth” (Mt 5: 5) Then the prayer continues: “The little is better than the right that the great abundance of the wicked “(v. 16), an invitation to sobriety that can really be shared by the whole family, as if those who are responsible for the maintenance of all, ask to believe that the Lord will not fail to who trusts him; they are, after all, the same words of Jesus: “give us today our daily bread”. Then another practical admonition: “The wicked borrow and do not pay back, but the righteous have compassion and give as a gift” (v. 21). How beautiful it is to be able to donate, without asking for anything in return and how this appears increasingly rare! “The Lord makes man’s steps secure and is pleased with his way. If he falls, he does not remain on the ground, because the Lord supports his hand “(vv. 23-24). Once again the God of the Bible loves to be described as a father who teaches his son to take the first steps and leaves his hand only when he feels safe … Many of us keep this memory in our hearts and maybe it will not have been the father’s hand , but the important thing is that there was one … how much courage, how much self-esteem arise in those first occasions of life and if they are lost they are then laboriously to be found over the years. “I was a child and now I am old: I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread” (v. 25). Long-term generosity pays off, the justice of men is rewarded by that of God, it is a certainty that the psalmist affirms as the fruit of his experience, a hope founded on evidence. “Stay away from evil and do good and you will always have a home” (v 27) and with home we can mean much more, namely the warmth of a family. “Behold the whole, see the upright man: for the man of peace will have descendants” (v. 38). Here is the fecundity that the Lord asks of us: it goes far beyond our biological fertility; surpassing what the man of the Bible could believe, we do not measure our prosperity simply by the number of children, but by how much we know how to sow peace, hope and even joy already here. The offspring of the man of peace is therefore an inheritance that goes beyond generation. “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord: in times of distress it is their strength” (v. 39). Let us trust, then, even in this time, even if hearts are in turmoil, even if the news from the world makes us worry, even if the weather is inclement and a thick curtain of rain veils our gaze: the fortress does not belong to us. , but to those who hold us by the hand.

Giovanni M. Capetta

Psalm 37. A prayer that invites us to persevering hope