Daily Devotional: Psalm 73


Have you ever felt like the world around you is prospering in ways that you aren’t? That your neighbors who aren’t Christians seem to be getting nice things, living comfortable lives, and exude happiness in ways that you do not? Doesn’t it seem like it would be easier to not have to worry about following God all the time, to not worry about doing “immoral” things? Well you aren’t alone. The psalmist Asaph had similar thoughts 3,000 years ago in Israel. Listen to the opening lines of Psalm 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.”

Asaph is feeling disillusioned. Truly God is good to those who are pure in heart. Right? Surely those who follow the Lord will feel and see the goodness of God? Then why do the wicked seem to prosper so much? Why are they prospering instead of being destroyed by the Holy God of the universe? For the next twelve verses Asaph laments 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…. And they say, 'How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?' Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.”

Is it worth it to follow God and keep one’s heart clean? The world is quick to tell us no. But there is a problem in using earthly measures of prosperity to gauge worth. It’s true that wicked people may be very successful in this world, but that success does not last or satisfy. Asaph sees this in the following verses:

“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.”

Asaph sees that the prosperity of the wicked will not last, but he also sees how his thinking has been misguided. He speaks from newfound wisdom and repentance when he says, “I was brutish and ignorant.” What has caused this newfound wisdom? Asaph tells us in verse 17 that he “went into the sanctuary of God.” We might guess that he quite literally means that he entered the temple in Jerusalem, but there is a deeper meaning. He has entered God’s sanctuary and seen God. He has seen God and it has changed his perspective entirely. He no longer is stumbling over the prosperity of the wicked but is rejoicing in God! Listen to verses 23-26:

“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

I love these verses! Asaph has realized that true prosperity is found only in God. He is our counselor, the strength of our heart, and our portion forever. When we look around and see the wicked seemingly prospering, let us remember that our relationship with the Most High is of infinite worth and value. Let’s make Him our refuge and the source of all our joy.

“For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. 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.”