Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 37:35

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay-tree - Does not this refer to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and to the vision he had of the great tree which was in the midst of the earth, the head of which reached up to heaven? See Daniel 4:10, etc.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

I have seen - I have had an opportunity, in my long life Psalm 37:25, of witnessing the accuracy of the statement just made, that a righteous man may live to see a confirmation of the truth that wickedness, however prosperous the wicked man may be, will lead to ultimate ruin - as I have had an opportunity of seeing Psalm 37:25-26 the effect of a course of righteousness on the ultimate prosperity and happiness of its possessor. The same experience, with the same result, is referred to in Job 5:3.

In great power - The word used here - עריץ ‛ârı̂yts - means properly “terrible; inspiring terror.” It is applied to God in Jeremiah 20:11; and to powerful nations, Isaiah 25:3. It is also used in a bad sense, as denoting violent, fierce, lawless, or a tyrant, Isaiah 13:11; Isaiah 25:4-5; Job 15:20; Job 27:13. Here it may be used in the sense of one who was prosperous and mighty, and as referring to a man who wielded vast power; but there is connected with that also, undoubtedly, the idea that that power was wielded, not for purposes of benevolence, but for injustice, oppression, and wrong. It was a “wicked” man that was thus powerful.

And spreading himself - The word used here means properly to be naked; to make naked; to empty; then, to pour oneself out; and then, to spread oneself abroad. It is applied here to a tree that seems to pour itself out, or to spread itself out in every direction - sending its limbs aloft, and its branches far on every side.

Like a green bay tree - Margin: “a green tree that groweth in its own soil.” The “bay tree” is a species of laurel, but there is no evidence that the original word here refers particularly to this, or specifically to any other tree. The original word אזרח 'ezrâch - is derived from זרח zârach to rise; and then, to spring up as a plant does, and it properly means here, as expressed in the margin, “a native tree;” that is, a tree that grows in its own soil, or that has not been transplanted. Then, also, it comes to denote a native; one born in the country, not a foreigner: Leviticus 16:29; Leviticus 18:26, et al. The idea here is that a tree which thus remains in its own soil is more vigorous, and will attain to a larger growth, than one which is transplanted; and thus the figure becomes an emblem of a prosperous and mighty man. “Perhaps,” also, there is included here, respecting the man, the idea that he has grown up where he is; that he has not been driven from place to place; that he has had uniform prosperity; that on the very soil which gave him birth he has risen to rank, to wealth, to power. His life has been spent in tranquil scenes, where everything seemed to be stable and secure; what his end will be, the psalmist states in the next verse.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Duty is ours, and we must mind it; but events are God's, we must refer the disposal of them to him. What a striking picture is in ver. 35,36, of many a prosperous enemy of God! But God remarkably blights the projects of the prosperous wicked, especially persecutors. None are perfect in themselves, but believers are so in Christ Jesus. If all the saint's days continue dark and cloudy, his dying day may prove comfortable, and his sun set bright; or, if it should set under a cloud, yet his future state will be everlasting peace. The salvation of the righteous will be the Lord's doing. He will help them to do their duties, to bear their burdens; help them to bear their troubles well, and get good by them, and, in due time, will deliver them out of their troubles. Let sinners then depart from evil, and do good; repent of and forsake sin, and trust in the mercy of God through Jesus Christ. Let them take his yoke upon them, and learn of him, that they may dwell for evermore in heaven. Let us mark the closing scenes of different characters, and always depend on God's mercy.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 2, 347

Therefore, pray, believe, and work.—Letter 66, 1901. 2SM 347.1

A case was held up before me of_____, a minister; eighty miles he was sent for, to pray for a sick sister who sent for him in compliance with the teaching of James. He went and prayed in earnest, and she prayed; she believed the minister to be a man of God, a man of faith. Physicians had given her up to die of consumption. She was healed immediately. She arose and prepared supper, a thing she had not done for ten years. Now the minister was vile, his life was corrupt, and yet here was a great work. He took the glory all to himself. 2SM 347.2

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Ellen G. White
The Publishing Ministry, 140.1

David declares, “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.” PM 140.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 127

The scepter is no longer held in the hand of a proud and powerful monarch. The mighty ruler is a maniac. He now herds with the cattle to eat as they eat. He is a companion of the beasts of the field. The brow that once wore a coronet is disfigured by the absence of reason and intellect. The mandate has gone forth: “Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit.” Verse 14. 8T 127.1

So the Lord magnifies Himself as the true and living God. Well might David exclaim: “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.” Psalm 37:35, 36. Let men become lifted up in pride, and the Lord will not sustain them and keep them from falling. Let a church become proud and boastful, not depending on God, not exalting His power, and that church will surely be left by the Lord, to be brought down to the ground. Let a people glory in wealth, intellect, knowledge, or in anything but Christ, and they will soon be brought to confusion. 8T 127.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 336

Now, in probationary time, we are all on test and trial. Satan is working with his deceiving enchantments and bribes, and some will think that by their schemes they have made a wonderful speculation. But lo, as they thought they were rising securely and were carrying themselves loftily in selfishness, they learned that God can scatter faster than they can gather. TM 336.1

“I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.” He who sees the end from the beginning, and who brings order out of confusion, is doing all things well. We will view another side of the picture: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” The word of God is offering all the preparation for eternal life. Our faith must be a faith that works by love and purifies the soul, not defies faith and practice. Do we believe the word of God? Are all who profess the truth faithful and true, steadfast to principle? Are we doing missionary work in the spirit of Christ? TM 336.2

There are men who stand in the pulpits as shepherds, professing to feed the flock, while the sheep are starving for the bread of life. There are long-drawn-out discourses, largely made up of the relation of anecdotes; but the hearts of the hearers are not touched. The feelings of some may be moved, they may shed a few tears, but their hearts are not broken. The Lord Jesus has been present when they have been presenting that which was called sermons, but their words were destitute of the dew and rain of heaven. They evidenced that the anointed ones described by Zechariah (see chapter 4) had not ministered to them that they might minister to others. When the anointed ones empty themselves through the golden pipes, the golden oil flows out of themselves into the golden bowls, to flow forth into the lamps, the churches. This is the work of every true, devoted servant of the living God. The Lord God of heaven cannot approve much that is brought into the pulpit by those who are professedly speaking the word of the Lord. They do not inculcate ideas that will be a blessing to those who hear. There is cheap, very cheap fodder placed before the people. TM 336.3

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