Psalm 73 – Perspective
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Feb. 17th, 2019
- Psalm 73 is a special psalm to me because it addresses some of my thoughts and struggles when comparing my life path and choices based upon believing in God and following Christ with those whose life path and choices are based upon believing in themselves and following their own desires. In many cases, it seems like their life is better: they get what they want and have far less hassles, hardship and heartaches than what I have in following God. This psalm addresses these things and gives us God’s perspective from eternity.
- Psalm 73 starts the third section of Psalms. In the story ark from promise to praise, section one starts with learning to trust the promises of God, then moves in section two to some questioning and confusion as to how these promise work out. In section three we see crisis and exile as the people still cling to faith while suffering great difficulties. In section three of the psalms we read these questions: have you cast us off forever? Has Your steadfast love failed? How long oh Lord? The psalmist is crying out for deliverance. This psalm, Psalm 73 starts out this section with perspective on life from the viewpoint of eternity.
- Intentionally focusing your eyes on the endgame of eternity provides justification for the choice of living a life following the footsteps of Christ and motivation to continue to persevere in the pathway until the end. This is a very helpful psalm to all of us who question and struggle at times with our choices to follow Christ and keep our heart pure.
- This psalm is “A psalm of Asaph.” Like the other psalms, we need to find out who this guy was. Asaph was a member of the tribe of Levi, whose job was to watch over the temple and lead the people in worship and the ways of the Lord. Asaph was chosen, along with two others, as the main worship leaders. He was a talented musician and song writer, writing at least 12 of the psalms. He also had sons and others who he led and trained that served alongside of him. They lead the people in musical worship and “prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals” (1 Chron 25:1 ESV) as they were “appointed . . . as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel. 5 Asaph was the chief” (1 Chron 16:4-5 ESV).
- This psalm opens up with a statement of faith and belief.
Ps 73:1 NIV
A psalm of Asaph.
Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
- Asaph starts this song with a bold statement of faith taking his stand on the promise that God is good to His people and He is good to those who have a pure heart. This is the truth on which he stands, this is at the core of what he believes. And then in the next verses, he writes about the realities of what he sees and what he experiences that cause questions and doubts about the goodness of God to His people and those of pure hearts. These things almost cause him to lose his footing and fall from faith. His first observation is on the prosperity of the wicked.
The prosperity of the wicked
Ps 73:2-12 NIV
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 the and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They
say, "How can God know? Does the Most High have
knowledge?" 12 his is what the wicked are like — always
carefree, they increase in wealth.
- Asaph is looking around and asked the question – “if God is good to His people, and to those with a pure heart, then why do the wicked have such great lives!?” They don’t have struggles, they are in good health, they have the best of what life has to offer! Because life is so good for them, they are proud, and they do violence and take advantage of anyone they want. Their hearts have become hard because of their sin, and their evil has no limits. They mock people, they have hatred in their hearts, they are arrogant and threaten people who oppose them. They think they are right with you (they lay claim to heaven) and by what they say people give them the earth. People follow them and “drink up” everything they say. They think they are the almighty, that they are the sovereign and know more than even God. This is what the wicked are like – always carefree and increasing in wealth.
- This also tells us that prosperity, power, position, wealth and health are NOT the indicators of being right with God, being a person of great faith, or someone God approves of like all of the prosperity preachers proclaim.
- Have you also made these observations about people? And from them have you asked the question – what is the deal with that God? If you a good and if you are just, then what is the deal with this? I have asked the question, and I bet you have as well.
- Then after observing the life and prosperity of the wicked, he then goes on to compare his own life and the punishment of the pure.
The punishment of the pure
Ps 73:13-16 NIV
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
- Based upon what I observe of the wicked. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure, surely in vain have I washed my hand in innocence. He is saying that he has really worked to do what pleases God, he has worked to keep His heart pure, keeping sinful things out of his heart (lust, pride, greed, anger, etc.) and that he has not participated in activity that is sinful (stealing, adultery, lying, mistreating people, etc.) and that he has “washed my hands in innocence.” The life of the wicked is fantastic, but his life has been plagued with difficulty and hardship, it is like he is punished every morning because he has chosen to do what is right.
- Have you ever thought these things? Have you experienced this? I have (Ill. of looking at celebrities, looking at brothers, looking back at work choices, etc.). These observations can make us question the goodness of God and question the wisdom of keeping the faith and following in the footsteps of Christ. Many have “fallen from the faith” because of what they see in those not following God. They turned their backs on God and His ways in pursuit of the “good life.”
- Asaph said that if he would have shared his thoughts on this with just this perspective, he would have betrayed the people of God and led them the wrong way. In his trying to understand all this, it became oppressive and depressive to him . . . until he entered the sanctuary of God and gained an eternal perspective.
- In order to “keep the faith” and keep walking in the pathways of the pure of heart, we must then gain the perspective of the eternal, we must see our lives and the world through this lens, we must take the “long view” in the light of our faith and in the truth of scripture.
The perspective of the eternal
Ps 73:17-2o NIV
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.
- When Asaph went into God’s presence and saw how things turned out for the wicked, then he understood that it would be all worth it in the end. He understood the purpose and plan of God. He understood the wisdom and goodness of God.
- The wicked were the ones who were walking on the slippery ground. In the end it would all come crashing down in ruin – suddenly they would be destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. It will happen like when we wake up from a dream: in a moment, true reality comes upon us. That the Lord despises the wicked like a bad dream. Then he remarks:
Ps 73:21-22 NIV
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I
was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
- Now that he had gained God’s perspective, he looks back to when his heart was grieved and embittered about the choice he made in following God and keeping his ways and his heart pure. He say he was senseless and ignorant to think like that, and that he must have seemed like a brute beast before God.
- Aren’t you grateful that God loves us, is patient with us, shows us the truth about Himself and gives us the truth about what is yet to come? If we see things from His perspective and view life from the lens of eternity, this life makes sense, His ways make sense and it helps us to continue to live as His children walking according to His will. Asaph’s conclusion to the psalm is to pour out his love and appreciation to God and then to tell other’s of all His goodness.
Ps 73:23-28 NIV
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.
- He praises God that He is always with us, that He holds us by our hand, He guides us and he counsels us, that He is with us all along the way, and then afterward He will take us into glory. He then breaks out and says, “whom have I in heaven but you?” You are the great God, you are better than anything this earth has to offer, you are what I truly desire because you are truly good. On this earth my flesh and my heart may fail, but you, God, are the strength of my heart, and my reward forever!!
- He goes on again to restate the truth that those who are far from God will perish, and all who are unfaithful to God will be destroyed. He then says that it is good to be near God, it is better to have Him than have everything this world has to offer. That God is the sovereign – we are not the ones in control, we are not the ones who call the shots and have the final word. That he takes his refuge in Him. That God is his dwelling place, his strength and his protection. That now that he sees the end from the beginning and has the perspective of eternity, he will live to tell of all of the deeds of God.
- Now, I want you to view the world and your life from the perspective of eternity. Keeping your heart pure and your hands clean, your sacrifices, your suffering, your trials and your tribulations will all be worth it in the end! Having this understanding and reminding yourself of it will keep you strong and steadfast in your faith. It will inform your decisions and shape your life. I beg of you to believe the truth that is written for us in the bible. Read it, understand it, build your one and only life on it. Be “all in” in the short time you have before eternity starts for you.
- May your life echo the words of Paul “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim 4:7-8 NIV). Viewing your life from the perspective of eternity will keep you living in Christ. It will keep you living for Christ. It will result in great reward. Never lose sight of eternity, no matter how bright the light of this world shines or how difficult the pathway it. It will all be worth it in the end. Everything done for Christ will last, everything else will pass away. Live each day for “That Day” never lose sight of it.
- Psalm 90 for next week.
- Closing Prayer