July 08 2023
Today, Saturday July 08
“When I Saw the Prosperity…”
Psalm 73:1-14 A Psalm of Asaph.
“Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, But their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes bulge with abundance; They have more than heart could wish. They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; They speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue walks through the earth. Therefore his people return here, And waters of a full cup are drained by them. And they say, "How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?" Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches.
Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, And chastened every morning.”
Psalm 73 was written by Asaph who was one of the three chief musicians appointed by David to preside over the worship and music services of the sanctuary (1 Chronicles 16:5). Asaph was a spiritually minded man, gifted in praise and prophecy, whose impact upon his own family lasted down through the centuries. God chose him to write 12 of the 150 Psalms.
Years ago, I heard someone say: “You can’t always help the first look, but it is the second look that damns the soul.” We know that the more you look at something with your eyes, the more you will think about it. That was the problem that Asaph had, and that we also struggle with. We live in a materialistic culture and are being overwhelmed with beautiful and new things every day. All around us, we see people with new houses, new cars, new phones, new boats, new everything, and we start envying, coveting, and wanting those things too.
We also notice, like Asaph, that the people who have these things don’t seem to have a care in the world. They don’t go to church, they don’t read their Bibles, (I doubt they even have one), they live immoral and ungodly lives, they are proud and boastful and generally don’t have God in their thoughts at all. And it appears that everything seems to go ok with them.
Asaph begins this chapter confirming that he knows that God is good and that He is good to those who are pure in heart (v. 1). But notice, that verse 2 starts with a “But”. And it is usually those “buts” that get us into trouble with our thinking and in our lives. Asaph starts slipping down the slippery slope of doubting!
The Hebrew word translated "but" in verses 2 and 28, indicates a sharp contrast. In verse 2, the more he measured his situation against that of the ungodly, the more he began to slip from his firm foundation. There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt comes from a struggling mind, while unbelief comes from a stubborn will that refuses surrender to God (v. 7). The unbelieving person will not believe, while the doubting person struggles to believe but cannot.
From Asaph's viewpoint, the ungodly "had it made." They were healthy (vv. 4-5) and had no struggles in either life or death (Job 21:13, 23). They were proud of their wealth and stations in life, and they wore that pride like jewelry. They used violence to get their wealth and wore that violence like rich garments. Like an overflowing river, their hard hearts and evil minds produced endless ideas for getting richer, and they frequently spoke words of opposition against the Lord in heaven. The words of the arrogant would "strut through the land" and take possession of whatever they wanted. To encourage their hard hearts and quiet their evil consciences, the wicked affirmed that God didn't know what they were doing (Ps. 10).
Based on the evidence he could see around him, Asaph came to the wrong conclusion that he has wasted his time and energy maintaining clean hands and a pure heart (vv. 13 and 1, and see Psalm 24:4 and 26:6). If he had ever read the book of Job, then he had missed its message, for we don't serve God because of what we get out of it but because He is worthy of our worship and service regardless of what He allows to come to our lives. Satan has a commercial view of the life of faith and encourages us to serve God for what we get out of it (Job 1-2), and Asaph almost bought into that philosophy.
Today, we need to turn our eyes upon Jesus and remember the old hymn: “O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”