Bible Reading Blog — Psalm 73

21 Mar

Today’s journal is from Psalm 73, a psalm of Asaph.

73 Truly God is good to Israel,
    to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
    my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

For they have no pangs until death;
    their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
    they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
    violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness;
    their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
    loftily they threaten oppression.
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.

I almost always think of purity in terms of sexuality, but here the purity is seen in not envying others. Purity of heart toward others means not comparing and living in jealousy. This is a thing that will make me stumble, in the sense of falling away from a life of trust in God. Sermon on Mount: pure in heart will see God. One tied up in envy and keeping up with the neighbors won’t be pure in heart, won’t be close to God. Purity of heart is a Psalm 86:11 thing (“unite my heart to fear your name”). James talks about the undivided heart. Mary and Martha (“you are busy with many things but one thing is needful”). A divided heart is the ultimate misery (“I wish you were either hot or cold”). Purity of heart links right up with Mt. 6:25-34. If God has my undivided attention and allegiance, I won’t be consumed with worry over my life’s circumstances.

Today’s psalm is by Asaph, yesterday’s was by the sons of Korah, the day before a psalm of David. Yet all concern to some degree this issue of envy of the prosperous wicked. This is a universal problem.

Asaph is deeply discouraged but he thinks his way through the discouragement by focusing on truth about God and drawing near to Him.

vv. 21-24 are such a grace note. God is so good to us.

25 and 26 are well-worn verses to many Christians, but the context of the psalm brings them fresh meaning. Where do I find life? In stuff, in prosperity, keeping up appearances or keeping up with others? NO. I find life by taking the long view, considering heaven and earth. The God I long to worship for eternity is to be my desire here. Otherwise, will I really want to be in heaven? If I didn’t want to worship God here how much will I want to worship God there?

My flesh and my heart may fail. My energy and emotion will not always be tuned in to God, especially when challenging circumstances come.

God is the strength of my heart (sustaining power for today)

and my portion forever (my future hope)

The old hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness: “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”

Knowing God gives us what we most need (strength to get through today’s suffering and the hope of a better tomorrow).

This psalm ends with mission but the mission is built on a foundation of relationship with God. Kind of like the difference between being given a tour of a battleship by a tour guide vs. being given a tour by a person who was on the crew in the battle.

Lord, my heart and my flesh fail way too often. I already feel the creeping anxieties of this day. Please help me see with the eyes of this psalm. Help me see that you are enough for today and that in you I have eternal hope. Free me from thoughts of envy or comparison. Help me in times of discouragement to look to you. Thank you for holding my hand through my brutish and bitter days. Let my walk with you today overflow in love to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

One Response to “Bible Reading Blog — Psalm 73”

  1. creatorworship March 21, 2018 at 4:53 pm #

    Partly, perhaps, I am drawn more to verses 23-24 than to verses 25-26, simply because the latter are well worn. But I think they speak more of my security in God because His presence is with me and intimate, He guides me, which I so desperately need, and He has secured for me glory by His grace and by His constant attention. When I feel insecure, I recall that He has been, is, and will hold onto me.

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