Psalm 73 provides us with a great reminder that is both refreshing and exhorting. In times of frustration and sheer disbelief at the ways in which people… all sorts of people — especially leaders, whether in politics or the press or business or academia — seem to get away with wickedness, we need to hear this.
The psalmist begins with context and perspective. (Ps. 73:1) We must never forget the character of God… He is good.
Then the psalmist begins reflecting on his own flaws and sinful inclination. (Ps. 73:2-3)
Over the course of the next few verses, he complains profusely of the apparent “good times” the wicked are enjoying as the continually get away with everything. (Ps. 73:4-12) We can taste the frustration building…
The psalmist then utters words that should send a chill through us… yet, they are words we have to admit may have echoed in our minds before. He regrets that he ever bothered with righteousness! (Ps. 73:13-14) What did he gain? Why bother?
Then his tone takes an immediate turn and we realize that he has been recounting his thoughts — sharing his heart with us. (Ps. 73:15-16)
But what brought him back to his spiritual senses? The psalmist “entered the sanctuary of God” and there found discernment. (Ps. 73:17) When we’re coming to the end of ourselves and can’t make sense of circumstances and events — that’s no time to fade away from God. Then we must seek Him even more earnestly — we must chase after Him and find fellowship with other believers as we pray and worship the Lord together! (Heb. 10:24-25)
Now the psalmist begins speaking with God directly. We are assured that those who persist and remain in wickedness will suffer their just end. (Ps: 73:18-20) And we see the progression from the psalmist’s bitterness of soul to conviction. (Ps. 73:21-22)
Through the remaining verses (Ps. 73:23-28) we see proclamation of hope and victory as the psalmist praises and gives thanks to God.
Let these concluding words from the Word echo in our hearts…
“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.”
Reading Hezekiah’s prayer in Isaiah 37 this morning … Rabshakeh, sent by Sennacherib the king of Syria, has mocked Israel and written-off Yahweh as just another god. Hezekiah begins his prayer with a declaration of praise to the Almighty Creator — a beautifully eloquent “hallowed be Thy Name!” He then urgently petitions Yahweh to hear the mockery of Sennacherib and to respond with salvation for Israel. Then the whole earth will know that Yahweh is like none of the so called gods of the kingdoms that have fallen to Sennacherib — Yahweh is God alone!
We live in a world that oppressively grows ever-more pagan and anti-Christ. Especially disturbing is the dismissal and mockery of God by declaring good to be evil and evil to be good. We see this as the worship of self rears its ugly head in so many ways — from unforgiveness and bitterness to the murder of inconvenient human life and celebration of immorality. I find my heart crying out for justice. Indeed, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the outrage and anger I feel — and it’s strangely mixed with sorrow for those being deceived and destroyed.
It’s so easy to get waylaid by these emotions — to be distracted from what a righteous response should be. Hezekiah kept the right perspective, praying for God’s glory and only proper recognition. How can we accomplish this in our lives?
In Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, he declares something that is both an encouragement and an exhortation: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) We need to hear this — loud and clear! Our God can and does and will eternally defend His honor quite well, thank you! Vengeance is His for He alone can execute justice with mercy and love.
Be exhorted! If we sow in spite and hatred and vengeance, we will reap the bitter fruit of our own sin — and that is exactly what the enemy of our souls is hoping for! Sowing to the flesh is a demonstration of the god we serve. We must sow to the Spirit and reap eternal life. This is spiritual warfare and the battles cannot be waged in the flesh alone. Yes, we must do all we can to seek justice and mercy … in the gentle and humble walk of Holy Love as He fills us.
Be encouraged! Judgment has already been pronounced upon the forces of darkness — “lo, his doom is sure!” And hope is held out at the Cross of Jesus, in His precious Blood, for all those who are lost and deceived … yes, and for all of us who are His, our hope is glorious and eternal!