Psalm 37:5, Commit your way to Yahweh; trust in Him, and He will act.
Commitment. I am quite confident—though wearily so—that this word has lost meaning in my generation (the Millennial generation). There are exceptions, of course, as there are in every case, but generally speaking, not many in this generation knows what it means to commit to something. Whenever things begin to get hard, they quit.
Take marriage, for example. It is no secret that the divorce rate is skyrocketing. Granted, the majority of these statistics actually come from couples who have been previously divorced than those married for the first time, but that only strengthens my point. Many in my generation, I think, hardly consider the ramifications of marriage—that biblically, it is intended to be a lifelong commitment. As soon as things begin to get hard, there is no effort in reconciliation and forgiveness. We don’t take seriously what it means to pledge yourself to someone for the rest of your life.
Commitment to higher education is another commonality. Higher education is not for everybody, of course, and you certainly don’t need one to be successful. Yet if you begin this route, why give up the moment it becomes hard? College is not easy, even undergrad. It is easier for some than it is for most, but even they have their own challenges.
This dearth of what it means to commit oneself to something is why I believe this text would be troubling for most in the current generation. “Commit your way to Yahweh.” We can hardly commit ourselves to marriage, to higher education, to a new diet, to exercise, and so on. So then, how can God expect us to commit our ways to Him?
Notice, ironically, that the action is not dependent on our act to commit but on God’s act. “Trust in Him, and He will act.” Sure, trust is still an act, but it is an act made possible by the Holy Spirit given in faith; it is not an act of the will. Reading the Hebrew actually makes this much more understandable. The English translation of the ESV used above leaves out a conjunction, “Commit your way to Yahweh and trust in Him, and He will act.”
So then, we are to commit our ways to God and to trust in Him—to trust in who He is, and He will act. Our God is a God who acts to save. One could even say He is committed to saving. There are numerous events of God’s saving acts in history, all of which become fulfilled in Jesus’ ultimate salvific act in His death and resurrection. As a believer, sure, you are expected to commit your ways to God, but you are bound to fall short; but trust in God and who He is and He will act. Trust that you are forgiven, even when you continually fall short.
In the wonderful words of Luther:
God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for He is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world], we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness, but, as Peter says, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner.LW 48:282
Luther, Martin. “Letters I.” Page 282 in vol. 48 of Luther’s Works, American Edition. 55 vols. Edited by Gottfried G. Krodel and Helmut T. Lehmann. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963.