Today’s devotional study is taken from two psalms. Psalm 73 is simply titled, “A Psalm of Asaph,” who was a priest and musician in King David’s court (1 Chronicles 6:39; 15:19; 16:7). Asaph was also the author of Psalm 50 and Psalms 73-83. The recipient of Psalm 77 is addressed in the title, “To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of Asaph.” Jeduthun is believed to have been the choir master of the singers in the Tabernacle. Both Asaph and Jeduthun were of the tribe of Levi.
The length of today’s psalms prevents an exhaustive study of each, and so the devotional will focus solely on Psalm 73.
Psalm 73 – A Psalm of Praise
Psalm 73 evidences the struggle saints of God have when they believe “God is good,” but find themselves suffering afflictions, while the wicked seem to prosper. Asaph opens the psalm with an affirmation of God’s goodness, writing, “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (73:1). He confessed that God was wholly, absolutely good towards Israel, and to all who are of “a clean heart” (73:1).
Not Fair! (73:2-16)
Remembering the goodness of the LORD, Asaph struggled with envy when he observed the “prosperity of the wicked” (73:2-3). From his distorted view, he felt the wicked seemed to have no troubles (73:5), and suggested “they have more than heart could wish” (73:7). Not fair, indeed!
Asaph asserted that the wicked blaspheme, extort, are lifted up in pride, and they dare to speak against the God of heaven! (73:8-9) While they grow more powerful, it seemed those who loved the LORD found themselves “plagued, and chastened” everyday (73:13-14). He knew he was in a bad place, and had not shared his struggles with others, lest he draw them astray (73:15). Asaph confessed, his doubts had become “too painful,” too troublesome for him to bear (73:16).
Where Did Asaph Go to Turn Around His “Stinking Thinking?” (73:17-22)
Asaph writes, “17Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then understood I their end” (73:17). Asaph found his heart and thoughts were changed when he went to the “sanctuary of God,” the place of public worship and ministry (73:17). He recognized his proximity, his nearness, to God had challenged and changed his view of the ways of the wicked.
Rather than prosperity, he realized the rewards of the wicked were like “slippery places,” and their end was “destruction [and] desolation” (73:18-19). He was convicted in his heart, and confessed he had been foolish (73:21-22a). He reasoned he had become no better than a brute beast, thinking only of himself and his desires (73:22b).
Asaph’s Confidence Restored (73:23-28).
Asaph understood the LORD’S care of him was like that of a parent who tenderly takes hold of a child’s hand (73:23). He determined to trust the LORD to be his guide (73:24; Psalm 23:1), and set his affection on Him (73:25-26). He came to understand the prosperity of the wicked was temporal (73:27), and his happiness was measured by his intimacy with the LORD. Asaph wrote, “28But 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” (73:28).
Closing thoughts: I fear many believers neglect public worship, and they find themselves where Asaph was: Alone, miserable, and backslidden. His focus had been on the world, and he struggled how the wicked seemed to prosper. In his depressed state, there is little doubt that his spirit would have resisted the duties of the sanctuary. However, when he “went into the sanctuary of God” (73:17), and there his thinking, and heart were changed!
Principle – The closer you are to God, the less affected you are by the world! (73:28)
Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith