This week’s Lord’s Day Preparation is provided by Doug Warwick
Psalm 73:12-22 (KJV)
Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
Type of Psalm: Song of Transformation of the Heart
In the first dozen verses of Psalm 73, the psalmist is looking around, comparing how his life compares with that of the wicked. And he is none too pleased. Why do the wicked prosper? The live like the devil thinking God does not see nor care, yet they grow increasingly successful (according to the measure of the world – numbers).
The ease and prosperity of their lives are a marked contrast to the struggles, afflictions, and suffering of his life, which are captured in verses 13-16. We can hear Aspah’s distressed and confused heart crying, “Life is not fair!” He is wondering what earthly good it is to serve the Lord. He is deeply pained by the radical “quality of life” difference between the children of the devil and the children of God. The problem of “Why do the wicked prosper,” is too great for him to understand.
The entire psalm hinges on the first word in verse 17…”Until.” Aspah’s transformation of heart and correction of perspective happens at “Until.”
Until he enters the house of God and sees the wicked as God sees them (verses 17-22). In the absence of repentance, this life is as good as it will ever get for the wicked. Conversely, because of repentance and the reconciliation with God, this life is as bad as it will ever be for the righteous. In the presence of the holy, all-knowing, and all-seeing God, Aspah’s heart is transformed from self-centeredness to God-centeredness and others-centeredness (Matt 22:36-40). He suddenly understands that the wicked are not ready for eternity as he is. On earth, their lives and his life are but a fleeting vapor (James 4:14) and no one is guaranteed tomorrow. Then comes eternal fellowship with God in heaven or eternal separation from God in hell. His heart is not longer indignant, it is broken. Now, he has a heart after God’s own heart.
The psalm concludes with, “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” Amen!
Psalm 73 is a wonderful psalm to meditate on when you need a “waaa-mbulance” because life isn’t fair.
Let us pray.
Father, forgive us of our self-centeredness and self-pitiful murmuring. Draw us closer that we may see the wicked as You do. Break our hearts for the wicked all around us…they are not ready for eternity. Give us Your love for them and the boldness to share the Bread of Life with them. When we lose our perspective, remind us of “Until.”