The command “fret not” occurs 3 times in the first 8 verses of this psalm (v.1, 7, 8). One dictionary defines “fret” as to be “constantly or visibly anxious”. In the context of this psalm, the fretting is directed at the evil-doers who seem to be getting away with their evil deeds. Fretting is more than worrying—it is getting visibly frustrated and angry about evil-deeds of others. A fretting personality points out problems more than it offers solutions. The psalmist commands us not to fret because “it tends only to evil.” The evil spelled out by the psalmist includes anger and wrath (v.8). In other words, the fretting person has become part of the problem instead of part of the solution when he or she focuses on evil committed by others rather than on good they can do to resolve the problems. The antidote to fretting is “trust in the Lord and do good”. In other words, if we see evil, ask ourselves what good we can do to eliminate the evil. If we focus on doing good, we will be able to remove evil from our midst, and no longer need to fret over it.
We can get rid of fretting by offering solutions instead of just raising problems. How do we do good? The psalmist offers a few solutions:
- “befriend faithfulness” (v.3): This expression "befriend faithfulness" is variously translated as "enjoy safe pasture" (NIV), "maintain your integrity" (NET), "cultivate faithfulness" (NASB), "feed on His faithfulness" (NKJV), and "enjoy security" (RSV). Essentially, it means to enjoy God's faithfulness towards us. He has given us all things to enjoy. Instead of focusing on what we don't have, we should thank God for his faithfulness in providing us with what we do have--and which is already overflowing and more than we need.
- “delight yourself in the Lord” (v.4): Beside being thankful for what God has done for us, we are called also to take delight in the Lord--in other words, enjoy Him for who He is. It's like delighting in our spouses or children. We don't need them to do anything because we love them. So, we are to delight in the Lord because we love him--or rather He first loved us.
- “commit our way to the Lord” (v.5): If we do face a challenge in our family life, work life or social life, just commit it to him. Surrender our problems to him: "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). Then wait for his solutions and his wisdom to resolve the issue. Don't act or react immediately without first committing it to God. In very pressing situation, an arrow prayer like "Help Lord!" will do.
- “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (v.7): However, if the problem is more protracted and requires more radical solution, then learn to be still before the Lord and wait patiently for His solutions to your problems. For Jesus has made this promise: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). Exchange your burden for his--it will be light and you will have rest in your soul, instead of anxiety and fretting.
When we are busy doing good, we will have no time to fret over the evils of others. And we become part of the solution, not part of the problem. Fretting doesn’t solve any problem but only aggravates it. But when we are proactive in countering evil by doing good, we transform our environment and change our attitude as well. We start seeing good in others and take delight in the Lord. And the bonus of all these positive actions is “he will give you the desires of your heart” (v.4).
So, let’s stop fretting and start cracking—let’s ask ourselves how I can be a solution to the problem I’ve identified rather than raising it without at the same time offering solutions. Wisdom is not defined by our ability to criticize others but by our ability to offer solutions to help others solve their problems.
Father, grant us wisdom to solve problems, not just raise them. Help us forsake anger and wrath because of our fretting. In Jesus’ name. Amen.