Psalm 73 (ESV) — A Psalm of Asaph. 1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. 7 Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. 8 They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. 9 They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. 10 Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. 11 And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. 13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. 16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. 21 When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. 23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that 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 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
Psalm 73 has long been one of my favorites. Asaph has walked down the same streets I have. Thought the same thoughts. And needed the same correction. Perhaps you’ve been there too. So what I would call your attention to today is to a clearer vision of things, when they seem to get distorted. And let me do it by means of a homey but I pray useful paraphrase of this powerful and much-needed reminder. It runs verse by verse.
1. God IS good to His children.
2. But I almost blew it by a stupid error.
3. I was jealous, because it seems some people can get away with anything.
4. They have no fear of future punishment.
5. They live a life of ease.
6. So they gloat! But all is not well.
7. They LOOK satisfied.
8 & 9. They talk a big game.
10. And sometimes we Christians are intimidated by that.
11. They try to sway us by what they say about God.
12. And they point to other wicked men in ease as examples to us.
13. So I started to think: “I serve God for nothing!”
14. I don’t have the easy life they have.
15. And if I cop their attitude and admit its true, other Christians would be offended.
16. The more I thought about it, the worse it got.
17. UNTIL, until – until I went to God about it. And He showed me the bottom line.
18. These guys are on really thin ice – and ARE going to fall through.
19. In a split second their world will cave in on them.
20. Like being terrifyingly startled awake from a pleasant dream – God will start to judge them.
21. It hurt to see what an idiot I’ve been.
22. How stupid! I’ve got the brain of gopher!
23. And yet Lord, you still hang on to me.
24. In fact, you’ll continue to teach me until Christ comes, or I die.
25. If my future is wrapped up in you, my present must be also.
26. Even when my body and my heart give out, you will preserve me forever.
27. But the wicked ones will be destroyed as surely as if it is already done.
28. So my life will be spent in drawing nearer to you, for I have learned to trust you completely. And in so doing, others will come to know you as I have.