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Psalms 73:1-73:28 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)
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As we turn to Psalm 73 let me ask you a question.
· Have you ever wondered why it seems that the people that are prospering
in this world are those who have no respect for God or His ways?
· Has it every grated on you that those who are trying to be obedient to
God and live a life in right standing with him, seem to have the most
difficulties while those who could care less about their relationship with
God seem to get all the breaks?
· Have you ever been passed up for promotions at work because of your
convictions as a Christian only to know that the person getting the
promotion was just a scoundrel or character!
· Every wonder "Why do the wicked prosper Lord?"
t.s. Well a poet and songwriter named Asaph experienced this inner
conflict and struggle and we get to read his poetry and discover Gods
truth about why the wicked seem to have it all in this world.
Psalm 73 is a Psalm of Lament and Declaration. The psalmist Asaph laments
the prosperity of the ungodly.
· This psalm is known as a lyric as is all the poetry of the Bible.
· Poets speak using word picture and imagery. They contrast things and use
simile and metaphor to make their point.
· This is a descriptive psalm and we share in Aspahs inner struggle,
conflict and turmoil. We, in fact, enter into Asaphs dialogue of thought.
· When you read the psalms take time to really meditate on each line.
Don’t gloss over them. Biblical Poetry is meant to be pondered. When a
writer compares a feeling or describes something next to something in
nature or an object - think this over- for it will reflect a true
comparison from life!
· In this psalm Asaph looks out and reasons what he sees - and finds no
comfort. He looks within for answers - and still no comfort! Then he looks
up and discovers meaning!
· Let’s take a look now at Psalm 73.
1 _ Truly God is good to Israel,
to those whose hearts are pure.
· The Poets of the Bible often directly state the theme of their writing
within the first verse.
· The simplicity of Psalm 73’s theme should not be overlooked. Simply
stated it is this: God shows His goodness to the upright.
2 But as for me, I came so close to the edge of the cliff!
My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
· Asaph compares himself with those who are clean in heart but he also
goes on to confess his inner struggle.
· What is his inner struggle? He uses a metaphor describing the heart of
the pure in contrast to his own attitudes. "My feet" - his own walk with
· He had almost lost his confidence in God. He felt close to the edge of a
cliff and we can almost visualize the pebbles and stones making their
ascent as he is near the precipice of his despair!
· [appl] Often when the perceptions of our heart are wrong our feet are
soon to follow our folly.
· Like walking on a sheet of ice our attitudes can run away from us.
3 For I envied the proud
when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
· The psalmist gives the primary reason for his inner struggle - He began
to be envious of those around him.
· His eyes were fixed too much on one thing. He looked at the present and
forgot the future.
· Envy became the root source of his lament.
· And sohe begins to contrast and compare the godly to the ungodly.
4 "They seem to live such a painless life; their bodies are so healthy and
5 "They aren’t troubled like other people or plagued with problems like
6 "They wear pride like a jeweled necklace, and their clothing is woven of
7. "These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for".
· Next to the common man the ungodly seem to live a painless life and even
· Common troubles such as: financial security, adequate health care,
shelter do not trouble the well to do.
· Asaph speak in a metaphor when he describes the arrogance of some of
these "types" of people.
· Their pride and arrogance is like a "jeweled necklace" - flashy and
showy before others.
· Asaphs second metaphor describes these people’s intentions: As cruel.
How are clothes woven? In the days of the Bible?
· Clothes were woven on looms and by hand - with great care. It could take
a long time to weave a garment by hand.
1. Just so - the intentions of some people are cruel and often plotting
2. Do you see how this poet begins to describe things using the imagery of
life? We can appreciate the poetry of the Bible if we look for its
· Asaph then says " Hey these guys have everything! Anything their hearts
can wish for!"
1. But he uses hyperbole: Exaggerating or overemphasizing to make his
2. No one can have absolutely anything he/she wishes for no matter how
well of they are.
3. But we can relate because it sure seems there are those who can.
8 They scoff and speak only evil;
in their pride they seek to crush others.
9 They boast against the very heavens,
and their words strut throughout the earth.
· Many times the ungodly not only convey an attitude of arrogance but they
propagate their pride.
· Is Asaph literal in that these people seek to crush others?
· Perhaps the means of some people crushing others is through the means of
the first part of verse 8
· By their scoffing and speaking.
· Asaph also conveys this through another word picture.."They boast
against the heavens".
· In other words - There are people in this world that have no respect for
authority - not even Gods sovereignty over them for the O.T picture of God
dwelling in the heavens is what Asaph has in mind.
· Have you any contact with people like this?
· And so the proud, the arrogant and the self-sufficient "Strut" their
words throughout the earth.
1. Now what is Asahp saying through this metaphor?
2. Can words Strut? Horses strut-but how do words? Ever see a horse strut
3. Even so is the attitude and boasting of some to any authority at all.
10 And so the people are dismayed and confused,
drinking in all their words.
11 "Does God realize what is going on?" they ask.
"Is the Most High even aware of what is happening?"
12 Look at these arrogant people-
enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13 Was it for nothing that I kept my heart pure
and kept myself from doing wrong?
14 All I get is trouble all day long;
every morning brings me pain.
15 If I had really spoken this way,
I would have been a traitor to your people.
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
But what a difficult task it is!
· What is the result of such arrogance?
· What effect does this have on the people of God?
· The people become dismayed and confused.
· Metaphorically speaking there are people who "drink in" the words of the
ungodly, perhaps trying to gain the same prosperity
· So, a real hard relevant question is asked that I am sure non of us have
every articulated " Where is God in all of this?"
· "Is it for nothing that I am living this Christian life when the wicked
seem to be the ones getting all the blessings!"
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
But what a difficult task it is!
17 Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God,
and I thought about the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
swept away by terrors.
20 _ Their present life is only a dream
that is gone when they awake.
When you arise, O Lord,
you will make them vanish from this life.
· Now the entire Psalm shifts from Asaphs perceptions to God’s Truth.
· Everything was put into perspective when he went to place of prayer and
into the presence of God.
· He saw clearly the end of the wicked.
· Do you remember what Asaph felt like in verse 2?
· Now he parallel’s this experience with the wicked being given their due.
· The theme of the psalm is revisted: God is good to the upright.
· So - those who seem to prosper now, who have no care or concern for the
ways of God will one day awake like from a dream and come face to face and
give an account to their Maker.
· It is God who will arise (the psalmist declares) and meet out His
justice to the arrogant, cruel and scoffing prosperous ungodly people of
21 Then I realized how bitter I had become,
how pained I had been by all I had seen.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant-
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 _ Yet I still belong to you;
you are holding my right hand.
24 You will keep on guiding me with your counsel,
· And here is the spiritual truth of this psalm : Envy left unchecked
within our hearts leads to bitterness.
· Asaph suddenly has the accurate picture. He sees how "foolish and
ignorant" his perceptions have become.
· In answer to his paradoxical question of " Was is for nothing that I
kept my heart pure and kept myself from doing wrong?"
· He states a beautiful picture that only a poet can. He had almost
fallen, and yet God always upheld him.
· This picture is cemented in our minds as we visualize Gods outstretched
hand holding our own. God is good to those whose hearts are pure.
· In the beauty of what is similar to Psalm 23 Asaph describes God as a
shepherd guiding him in counsel and leading him to his eternal reward. A
word picture that anyone reading the psalms in the Far East would
understand - and comprehend.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.
· Asaph nears his conclusion by stating that God was better to him than
all the wealth, health, honor and peace which he had so much envied in the
· God was not only better than all the earth, but in contrast, He is more
excellent than all in heaven.
27 "But those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who
abandon you. 28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made
the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the
wonderful things you do."
· In these closing verses is the final contrast and Asaphs contemplation
· The end of the wicked is their demise.
· When did Asaph escape from his inner conflict? The moment he drew near
to God was the moment the attractions and distractions of this earth
· Asaph had to look up to put all things into perspective
· So, in our Christian walk we may ask those hard questions
· Is staying faithful to God really worth it when I have so many trials
· Is it for nothing that I am trying to live the Christian life when it
seems that those around me who really are not spiritually minded nor care
for the things of God - they are the ones who prosper?
· Well - if your ever tempted to get discouraged Child of Godlook up like
· The day of the godly is coming!
· Jesus said 12 _ "See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to
repay all according to their deeds. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the
First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."
· Surely Saint your hope is not in vain! Remember it is the Lords promise
that Gods goodness extends itself to the godly!
· Take the time today to re-read psalm 73 and meditate upon its truth.
· Guard your heart against envy so that bitterness does not become rooted
in you. Let’s pray