It’s the story of a man’s journey through extreme highs and lows. It describes his struggle against various temptations; envying others who are prosperous and carefree. He is grappling with self-pity, despair, and the temptation to give up. This is all recounted in Psalm 73. I am comforted to know that even the writers of scripture were human and struggled at times, just like I do.
It begins with a declaration of God’s goodness. Psalm 73:1 says “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.” But then the psalmist looked around him. He became envious when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. He was jealous because evil people seem to have it so easy. They are healthy, wealthy, and free of struggle. Even though they speak maliciously, oppress others and are full of pride, they are ever increasing in riches and power. In verse 13 the psalmist laments that he has been pure and righteous for nothing. He is the good guy and yet the bad guys are winning. (I can almost hear the whiny tone of voice!)
I would argue that the writer is not as pure and righteous as he thinks. I know firsthand the dangers of self-pity, jealousy and a smug self-righteousness. It’s easy to compare, complain, and feel sorry for myself. But this mindset is a path to grievous sin. One we call bitterness.
But then, our psalmist gains perspective. He says in verse 17, “till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.”
What do we do when we are tempted and angry and self-pitying? What should we do when we feel like our pursuit of holiness is in vain? What can we do when we’ve failed – again?
Run to the sanctuary of God. To His presence. To His feet. Wherever you are, call out to Him. I have some of my best times with God alone in the car. I can pray, confess, complain, cry out to Him. I sometimes remind myself of who He is and how He feels about me – out loud! (Other drivers probably think I’m singing – or crazy.)
Matthew Henry said, “Good thoughts of God will fortify us against many of Satan’s temptations.”“Good thoughts of God will fortify us against many of Satan’s temptations.” - Matthew Henry Click To Tweet
When I remind myself of who God is: all-knowing, all-powerful, holy and good, and that I am adopted, blessed, chosen, forgiven, loved and redeemed, it puts everything into perspective.
A.W. Tozer said, “what comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.” I have heard this quote twice recently. I figured that the Lord must want me to ponder it!
If God is good and wise and has a plan for me as His beloved daughter, it doesn’t matter what other people are doing. It doesn’t matter if they are prospering or getting away with evil. He is for me, He loves me and I need to keep my eyes on Him. I should have compassion for those evil people and pray for them, for their ultimate destiny is destruction.
The psalmist changes his tune at the end of this psalm. He repents of his bitterness (verses 21-22) and rejoices in the fact that God is always with him and holding his hand (verse 23). Then he states that there’s nothing on earth to be desired, because we have God.
“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.” Psalm 73:28
The picture I have in my mind is us snuggling up next to Jesus, hand in hand. It is a good place to be, safe and secure. He is our refuge!
I gain perspective on the world around me when I’m abiding in Jesus and trusting Him to work His perfect will and plan for my life. And I must remind myself that He loves me and He is always good.
What comes into your mind when you think about God?