Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.Psalm 73:1-2
My Word of the Year is Intentional. As I began looking for a verse that I might claim, I kept finding verses where messengers of God said, “But as for me…” I thought, “These people are intentional in their lives. I want that”. So we will start looking at these scriptures. I have some friends helping me out and they are already stepping on my toes.”
Today, I, myself, am writing on Intentional
When I first saw this verse, it got my attention because, lately, I can very much relate to “nearly slipping” and “Losing my foothold”. This summer, I took my first fall. Scary when you have severe osteoporosis but more on that at a later date. Chronic illness can make you very unstable on your feet.
I read on to catch the whole meaning. What I found was the importance of keeping a verse in context. Read with me.
Psalm 73 – A Psalm of Asaph
1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance, they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?”
12 This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
Why did Asaph Nearly Lose his Foothold?
Asaph was an organizer and leader for the temple choirs in the days of David, and presumably for Solomon after him. He was one who “prophesied according to the order of the king” (1 Chronicles 25:1-2).”
Verse 1 tells us that God is good to those who are pure in heart. Asaph saw that God was good to His people but he was wondering, “why in the world was God good to sinners?” Don’t we all have those misgivings at times? We get that God blesses His people but we see evil men prospering too. What’s that about? Yeah, Satan loves to get our eyes on the world and make us jealous of others especially when the wicked prosper and the righteous struggle.
Like Asaph, we must take care to not get our eyes on the wrong things.
What Made Asaph Envious?
Asaph nearly stumbled when it seemed that the wicked were more prosperous than the pure in heart. This casts doubt and makes us wonder, “So what, then, is the reward for living a godly life?” Shouldn’t the plans of the wicked founder?
But this is a false belief. It was the belief of Job’s friends and the disciples when they questioned Jesus, “Who sinned? This person or his parents?” God does not punish sinfulness. Not yet, anyway.
“Men may die like lambs and yet have their place for ever with the goats.”
” ‘He fell asleep like a child,’ say his friends; and others exclaim, “He was so happy, that he must be a saint.” Ah! This is but their apparent end.(Matthew Henry, cited in Spurgeon)
It Hardly Seems Fair that Wicked Prosper
Many Christians suffer throughout their whole lives. And, yet, here are the wicked, prospering while the righteous struggle to put bread on the table or fight horrible diseases. Should it not be the other way around?
But, friend. This is not our world. It’s not God’s world, God (through Adam) has given Satan dominion over it. Yes, God is in control. He allows Satan and his demons to have their way. God gave Adam dominion over the earth, but Adam decided to follow Satan’s lead. This in essence turned dominion over to Satan.
Thankfully, when Jesus rose from the dead, Satan’s hold on us was broken. And if we chose Christ, We are not controlled by Satan but rather by the Holy Spirit. All these wicked ones do not have this fortune. They are controlled by Satan. They can’t help themselves but work evil. Asaph gives a great description of the wicked.
Is it Foolish to Envy The Wicked?
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.
15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply
According to Studylight Commentaries this social condition is permitted by Heaven. It must, therefore, be accepted by the devout mind as appropriate, as a token of the beneficence of God in that He will permit such distinguished mercy to attend a wicked life. But the prosperity of the wicked will only be transient, as the beauty of the grass, or as the momentary bloom of the flower. And, therefore, it is not worthy of envy, as it is prosperity of the lowest kind, and will soon wither in the grave; whereas, though the good may endure a long period of want, yet it will only be as a prelude to the eternal wealth and enjoyment of heaven. Surely, then, they have no need to envy the temporal prosperity of the wicked.Studylight.org Commentaries
We need to hang on to the fact that the eternal fate of the wicked is not good. But, on the other hand, Those who love and obey God will have eternal life. It will not always be so unfair. In the long run, we win!
Is it Sinful to be Envious?
Envy brings us down to the level of the wicked. But if we avoid thinking about these things we find true joy and our lives are lifted up. Remember what Paul instructed us to do…
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Philippians 4:8 niv
David in His Psalm (chapter 37:3-11) wrote about this as well. He describes the character of God’s people with words like trust, joy, devotion, rest, patience, and meekness. That sounds a lot like Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.
It is a fact of everyday observation that the righteous often have little, while the ungodly have much. The little may be better than the much. This is the arithmetic of Heaven, not of the world. Why is the little better? (Psalm 37:16) Keep Reading.Studylight.org Commentaries
Asaph tells the truth about what happens to the wicked in the end.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
when you arise, Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.
Keep in mind that the wicked will get their due one day. Many see their fate before death. Many can’t handle life when they lose their fortune. Even Solomon lost his way for a while and his riches were God-given. And, yes, some live their whole life without experiencing ill fate; however, when they stand before God, the story will be different, for this life was “as good as it gets” for them.
On the other hand, for the righteous, saving our treasures in heaven turns out to be the best bet.
So What is the Lesson?
Like Paul, if we learned to be content, we will be divinely blessed. Philippians 4:11
Agur said in the Proverbs,
… give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.Proverbs 30:7-9
Psalm 73 has another “But as for me…” Stay tuned more is coming in this chapter and it’s my favorite part.
Pastor’s Wife (retired) & Chronic Pain Warrior blogs about how to make it through anything by relating her own life experiences to her writing. She is passionate about her love for the Lord and desires to spread that passion to others. She has a great desire to encourage women who are following behind her.