I. Read Psalm 73.
A Psalm of Asaph.
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 strengthof 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.
Introduction – A lot of Psalms are written in the midst of a trial. This psalm however, is written after the trial has past with the psalmist looking back. What does he see when looks back? He sees that he was envious of the wicked men all around him, since they were rich, beautiful, and carefree. By contrast, the psalmist saw his life as one of rebukes followed by bad luck. He desired to be like the wicked, to have what they have. The Covenant God’s existence began to make little difference in the world. This all changes in verse 17, when he went to the sanctuary. In worshiping God, his whole perspective changed. He saw that the wicked are not blessed just because they have material things now, but rather their lives are heading toward destruction and judgment. The psalmist also no longer maintains his innocence and righteousness as he did in verse 11; he confesses his sinfulness to God (verse 22). What is most striking is his change in attitude toward God. He no longer sees God at fault for not blessing him with material goods. Rather, he understands that having God Himself is the greatest conceivable blessing a person could hope to have. If we have God, how can we be envious of other people? We possess the greatest treasure in heaven or on earth. If we have God and we are in relationship with Him, if he is our loving Father, then what else on earth can we desire?
Reflect on this Psalm by answering these questions in your own words.
- What would the Psalmist experience at the sanctuary that changes his perspective?
- What are some contemporary examples of wicked people that seem to have nothing but blessings in their lives
- Can you recount a time when has God showed His loving presence to you in the midst of your sinful attitude toward Him?
- What are some things that might prevent you from praying verse 23 to God? In other words, what are some things you desire besides God?
II. Pray Psalm 73. Use the key ideas in this psalm to write a prayer.
III. Sing Psalm 73.
- Sing Psalm 73 (Day Star).
- Sing Psalm 73 (Vernon).
- Sing Psalm 73 (Mysterious Love).
- Chant Psalm 73 (Anglican style).
- Sing Psalm 73:25-26 (Scripture Song).
Contributed by Jared McNabb