Psalms 73 - A psalm of Asaph
"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. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills...
"This is what the wicked are like - always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning." (v. 1-5 and 12-14)Have you ever felt like this? Sometimes it seems like the wicked prosper, like nothing ever goes wrong for them. They seem happy, healthy, wealthy... they have fame and glory. Meanwhile, we're over here desiring to follow God and do the right thing, yet everything seems to work against us. Perhaps we are poor, perhaps our health is declining, or life is just plain difficult. Sometimes like Asaph, we wonder if perhaps we have "kept our hearts pure" in vain.
But the Psalm continues:
"If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies." (v. 18-20)Asaph realized that the easy life of the wicked only lasted a short while. Judgment was coming, the judgment of God. And the comfort of the righteous did not rest in a pleasant life here on earth, or wealth, fame, or health. The comfort of the righteous rests in the following verses:
"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
"Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds." (v. 23-28)The comfort of the righteous while enduring the trials and difficulties of life rests on the knowledge that no matter what happens, the Lord is with us, "holding our hand," guiding us with His counsel. That when the feeble tribulations of this life have ceased, we will be taken into glory to be with Him. Our comfort is in knowing that everything in this world is "a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..." (Philippians 3:8) All else may fail, but we can have peace knowing that God is our strength and portion forever!
Like Asaph, may we simply say "It is good to be near God." To think how blessed we are... what a privilege we have been given, that we may approach the living God with freedom and confidence! (Ephesians 3:12) That we have been forgiven of our sins and now can have a right relationship with God, that one day we will live eternally with Him. That each and every moment of the day, we can approach the Almighty Creator of the world with our prayers and petitions.
Oh, it is good to be near God. Let us continually seek after Him. He is our hope and our strength, our refuge, our salvation.
~ A Servant of the King
To the praise of His glory.