Fret Not, Don\'t Envy; Psalm 37:1

Do not be agitated by evildoers;
do not envy those who do wrong.
-Psalm 37:1

Psalm 37 is about the age old question of the wicked who do well while the righteous suffer.
It is a message of wisdom.
It is an alphabetical (acrostic) psalm, a poetic form that helped the ancient Hebrews with memorization.

The word of wisdom, like a proverb, here is verses 1 and 2, starts with the advice of what not to do:
\”Do not be agitated by evildoers\”

\”Do not fret\” is what many translations say.  It means do not be carried away in anger.

The second phrase tells us our temptation to anger comes from envy.

1. Do not be agitated by evildoers.

2. Do not envy those who do wrong.

Envy, definition:

A painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.

Peter C. Craigie:

There is a natural temptation to be upset and envious at the success of evil people… But their success is superficial and not to be envied, for having no deep roots, they shrivel up as soon as testing comes along.

What are some other words for envy?

What\’s the difference between envy and jealousy?

Theodore M. Bernstein:

Envy means discontented longing for someone else’s advantages.

Jealousy means unpleasant suspicion, or apprehension of rivalship.

Bryan A. Garner:

Jealousy is properly restricted to contexts involving emotional rivalry; envy is used more broadly of resentful contemplation of a more fortunate person.

Webster\’s Usage Notes:

Jealous may be used to mean both “covetous” and “possessively suspicious”, envious is only comfortable in the first of those two senses.

Though \’jealous\’ and \’envious\’ may both mean \”covetous,\” only \’jealous\’ may be used to mean \”possessively suspicious.\”

Psalm 37:1 is echoed in Proverbs 23:17, 24:1, and 24:19:

Don’t let your heart envy sinners; instead, always fear the Lord.
Don’t envy the evil or desire to be with them.
Don’t be agitated by evildoers, and don’t envy the wicked.

Derek Kidner:

Envy is made up of simultaneously admiring and resenting someone and springs from an undue preoccupation with oneself.

Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong.
-Psalm 37:1

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