Scripture reading – Psalm 73, Psalm 77
Today’s devotional study is taken from two Psalms. Psalm 73 was titled “A Psalm of Asaph,” 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 was addressed in the title, “To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of Asaph.” Je-du-thun is believed to have been the choirmaster 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, so today’s 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” (Psalm 73:1). He confessed that God was wholly, absolutely good towards Israel, and to all who are of “a clean heart” (Psalm 73:1).
Not Fair! (Psalm 73:2-16)
Remembering the goodness of the LORD, Asaph struggled with envy when he observed the “prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2-3). From his distorted view, he felt the wicked seemed to have no troubles (Psalm 73:5) and suggested “they have more than heart could wish” (Psalm 73:7). Not fair, indeed!
The psalmist then asserted that the wicked blaspheme, extort, are lifted up in pride, and they dare to speak against the God of heaven! (Psalm 73:8-9) To Asaph, the wicked grew more powerful while those who loved the LORD were “plagued, and chastened” daily (Psalm 73:13-14). He realized he was in a bad place and had not shared his struggles with others, lest he draw them astray (Psalm 73:15). Asaph confessed his doubts had become “too painful” and troublesome for him to bear (Psalm 73:16).
Where Did Asaph Go to Turn Around His “Stinking Thinking?” (Psalm 73:17-22)
Asaph writes, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then understood I their end” (Psalm 73:17). The psalmist found his heart and thoughts were changed when he went to the “sanctuary of God,” the place of public worship and ministry (Psalm 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” (Psalm 73:18-19). He was convicted in his heart and confessed he had been foolish (Psalm 73:21-22a). He reasoned he had become no better than a brute beast, thinking only of himself and his desires (Psalm 73:22b).
Asaph’s Confidence Restored (Psalm 73:23-28).
Asaph understood the LORD cared for him like a parent tenderly takes hold of a child’s hand (Psalm 73:23). He determined he would trust the LORD to be his guide (Psalm 73:24; Psalm 23:1), and he set his affection on Him (Psalm 73:25-26). He understood that the prosperity of the wicked was temporal (Psalm 73:27), while his joy was derived from his intimacy with the LORD. Asaph wrote, “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” (Psalm 73:28).
I fear many believers neglect public worship, and they find themselves where Asaph was. He felt alone, miserable, and backslidden. By focusing on the world and the prosperity of the wicked, he sank into despair. In his depressed state, his spirit would have resisted the duties of the sanctuary. However, when he “went into the sanctuary of God” (Psalm 73:17), his thinking and heart were changed!
Principle – The closer you are to God, the less affected you are by the world! (Psalm 73:28)
Questions to ponder:
1) Why did the psalmist become envious of the wicked? (Psalm 73:4)
2) Confessing he had become envious of the wicked, how did the psalmist describe himself? (Psalm 73:22)
3) What did the psalmist vow to do to overcome his depressed, melancholy state? (7 Psalm 3:28)
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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