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Walking in the Light

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Psalms 36–38

Psalm 36 urges us to listen to the Lord and walk in His light. Psalm 37 stresses how important this is by contrasting the righteous with the wicked, who ignore His word. And Psalm 38 points us to the hope we have when we fail the Lord by confessing our sins to a gracious God.


Word pictures often are helpful expressions, and we use them all the time. We talk about people having “steam coming out of their ears!” In other words, they are mad and about to explode! We talk about others who have “their ears to the ground.” That doesn’t mean they are listening for bugs; it means they are staying informed.

Sometimes we can turn a word picture into a question like, “Who’s got ahold of your ear?” which means, “to whom are you listening?” And that is exactly what David is about to ask us all here in Psalm 36.

Now in the first part of this psalm, David describes people who have given their ear to the voice of sin. He writes in verse 1, “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart.” “Transgression” is a word that refers to moral rebellion.

Listen, when transgression has your ear, it is going to lead you to revolt against what God says is morally right. You are even going to be able to convince yourself that you know better than God. David goes on in verse 1, saying, “There is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out.” The wicked person is convinced that what he is doing is not wrong and that God will not hold him accountable either.  

People who give their ear to transgression end up traveling down a road of darkness and disillusionment. They end up drinking from the mud puddles of sin. It doesn’t satisfy their thirst; it only makes them wander around empty and unfulfilled.

David describes someone who listens to the Lord as walking, not in darkness, but in the light. He writes, “For with you [Lord] is the fountain of life” (verse 9). It is not a mud puddle; it is a fountain that satisfies your thirst.

David writes further in verse 9, “In your light do we see [the] light.” In Him is not a life of darkness but a life filled with clarity and light.

A thousand years later, Jesus takes this text and applies it to Himself as he declares in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

So, who are you listening to today? Let me tell you, whoever has your ears eventually controls your eyes and ultimately directs your feet—either toward the darkness or toward the light. 

Now David knows that the believer is going to be surrounded by people who reject the light. In fact, the majority of the human race to this day walk in darkness. The next psalm reminds us, first of all, to not get angry with those who choose the darkness.

Two times in Psalm 37, David tells the believer not to fret. He writes in verse 1:Fret not yourself because of evildoers” and in verse 8: “Fret not yourself...”

The Hebrew word for “fret” means “to blaze” or “to get hot.” In other words, he is saying not to get all hot and bothered by wickedness in our world. Expect sinners to sin. Getting mad about evildoers will not turn on the light. It’s not going to solve anything. It will only make sinners your enemy instead of your mission field.

And that is why David reminds us in verse 3 to continue to “trust in the Lord, and do good” and in verse 5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord.” Leave the final judgment to Him and focus on shining the light of God’s truth into your dark world.

The word for “commit” here literally means “to roll over.” He is not talking about hitting the snooze button and rolling over in bed. He’s talking about taking your burdens, your cares, those things that make you want to fret and get hot and angry, and rolling them all over onto the Lord. The apostle Peter picked up this same idea when he wrote of “casting all your anxieties on [the Lord], because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

David also reminds us here in Psalm 37 that a day is coming when God will set everything in order. He writes in verse 10, “In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.” 

Let that sink in: In just a little while, the wicked will no longer be in “his place.” The word for “his place” refers to his station, his position of authority, or his office. There is coming a day when the wicked will no longer be in office. They will not have positions of influence here on earth.

So, what is going to change? David tells us that in just a little while “the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (verse 11).

It’s been three thousand years since David wrote that in just a little while the wicked are going to lose their office and the meek shall rule. He is referring to the coming kingdom of Jesus the Messiah. But “in just a little while”? All I can tell you is that “just a little while” is a whole lot closer now than it was three thousand years ago.

Jesus quoted this text in Matthew 5:5, when He promised, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Both the Hebrew word for “meek” used by David here in Psalm 37 and the Greek word used by Jesus in Matthew 5 mean the same thing: “humble.” The humble, the “meek,” shall inherit the earth one day.

We need to understand that meekness does not mean weakness. We tend to think of it that way today. We say, “That man is a meek man.” That usually means he is a doormat—he’s afraid of his own shadow.

But a meek person in Scripture is not a weak person but one who is humble and submissive to the Lord. And one day, Jesus Christ will set up His kingdom, and those who belong to Him will be assigned the place—the office, the position of authority—as followers of Christ.

So, how do you become a follower of Christ? It begins with repentance and confession. And it is no coincidence that the next psalm, Psalm 38, offers us a model of confession.

We have already studied two other psalms that deal with confession, Psalm 6 and Psalm 32. And here it is again. Now I have mentioned the principle of repetition in the Bible—God repeats Himself. And it’s a good thing He does because we might have ignored Him the first time.

So, in case we missed it, God gives us, through the testimony of David, a picture of true confession. He says to the Lord in verse 18, “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.”

True confession is honest admission. There are no excuses. There is no, “The devil made me do it,” “I was having a bad day,” or, “It wasn’t really me.” There is only, “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.”

Let me tell you, beloved, these are ten words we ought to become good at repeating in our own lives: “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.”  

These ten words can open the floodgates of grace, not only before God, but also before other people in our lives. These are ten words that can rebuild a bridge that’s been torn down, ten words that can restore a relationship, ten words that can change the course of your life. And when you come to Jesus Christ for salvation and confess your sin to Him, these ten words can take you out of the kingdom of darkness and bring you into the kingdom of light.

Now if you’ve said those ten words to the Lord, then you now belong to Him; well, maybe you need to say those words to someone today.

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