BOOK III : Psalms 73-89
A psalm of Asaph.
1Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity ;
the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, “How can God know?
Does the Most High have knowledge?”
12 This is what the wicked are like—
always carefree, they increase in wealth.
13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.
15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
20 As a dream when one awakes,
so when you arise, O Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.
21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
New International Version (NIV)
Sometimes when life is particularly hard, and I am tired and downcast and don’t understand, this psalm comes to mind.
Especially the following verses, from The Message,
11-14 What’s going on here? Is God out to lunch?
Nobody’s tending the store.
The wicked get by with everything;
they have it made, piling up riches.
I’ve been stupid to play by the rules;
what has it gotten me?
A long run of bad luck, that’s what—
a slap in the face every time I walk out the door.
And yet, somewhere deep inside, I know that this is NOT true.
It is just one more cleverly told lie by Satan- and so I go on the read the rest of the Psalm. Because, “as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge….”
1) Who wrote it?
Asaph- choir director,Levite.
Unsure, most likely at a low point in his life.
Why do good things happen to bad people? or Why do evil men prosper and good men fail?
4) Answered? by whom?
By the Holy Spirit’s guidance in Israel’s past and in Asaph’s own heart. (vvs. 1,23-26, 28)
5) Can I pray this prayer?
6) Names for God?
The Most High, God, O LORD, the Sovereign LORD
Hurt and disillusioned, yet close, hoping for understanding—then repentant, grateful, and loving.
8) NT References?
There are thematic references :
vs 1 “Pure in heart” references the Sermon on the Mount.
vvs 17-19 ” For what is a man profited to gain the world et lose his soul?” (Matt 16:26)
vs 25 “To who shall we go” You have the words of eternal life.”
voice of righteous believers, voice of arrogant wicked ones
10) What does it mean to me?
Psalm 73 is about true perspectives. What is our viewpoint? Are we so living in the “here and now” that all we can see is what we lack in this world? Are we so blind to real value that we want only what we can touch and see?
Or, can we truly be God’s children and see” with eternity’s values in view”? Can we enter into the Eternal life that we receive from God the moment we put our lives into His hands and start trusting in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ?
As believers, we do not live by explanations- we live by promises. And God’s promises only become real to us as we grow in relationship with Him- accepting His salvation- trusting in His judgements- believing in His Word- and spending time in His presence.
On my worst days, the questions plague me.
But even on my worst days, the Holy Spirit whispers hope and eternity to my soul.
And I trust Him.
Because it IS good to be near God.