This psalm is sometimes called a wisdom psalm. It is not a prayer, but contains advice and reflections. As we read it today, we might think of the words as coming from a teacher instructing students.
First is a warning about evildoers, a warning that continues throughout the psalm. Such people may seem to be having the most success in life, but “like grass they wither quickly; like green plants they wither away.”
A bit later we read, “The wicked spy on the just and seek to kill them. But the LORD does not leave the just in their power….I have seen ruthless scoundrels, strong as flourishing cedars. When I passed by again, they were gone; though I searched, they could not be found.”
The wise teacher instructs the student, “Trust in the LORD and do good that you may dwell in the land and live secure. Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart’s desire.”
The picture painted by the wisdom teacher may seem a bit simplistic. Often evildoers seem to get away with their evil conduct while those who live good lives suffer. However, both the good and the wicked know their true state in the world in the depths of their conscience. In the next world, both will experience the consequences of their actions.
Some think that Jesus was influenced by this psalm when he proclaimed the Beatitudes and Woes in the Sermon on the Mount.