The psalmist proclaims his confidence: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ~Psalm 73:26 (NRSV).
In keeping with the custom of Wisdom psalms, namely Psalms 1, 37, and 49, comes this one, which speaks to the diversity and seeming disconnection of good and evil in life, and of God who judges all.
Our experience of life reveals a disparity to the truth; we see evil rewarded and piety punished. This is much the reason why people walk from the faith.
They see little evidence of the justice of God where it most counts.
But there is an answer, and this psalm reveals it. It commends us to turn from looking in the wrong place and, instead, to become magnetised to the Presence of the Lord. There, alone, is satisfaction. Nothing else compares. And everything makes more sense from that designation.
“I Almost Stumbled”
The first three verses everyone can relate to. A statement of truth is followed by a reflection of thought for almost doom—the psalmist (ascribed as Asaph) commences this psalm as a summary of his feelings which almost led to his demise.
Wisdom psalms, in this genre, exemplify stages of learning; wise and foolish decisions are recounted as a glowing portrayal with which informs the future.
“I Have Seen the Wicked, Successful”
What is observed in the section of verses 4-9 is the physique of tyranny and injustice.
As we read, our minds are consumed by thought of those in our midst getting away with comparative murder; they seem so blessed; they gorge in joy in a life open to them; “They scoff and speak with malice” (verse 8) and get away with it.
This is bound to confuse, upset, and ultimately overwhelm us—if we will be looking to the world to satisfy us.
“I Have Seen Their Popularity”
Envy gallops into full stride right about here; that, with a perplexing, shivering anger for the nonsensical attribution of ‘blessing’ toward the smoothened tyrant. All seems to go toward them, without any effort, whilst in our hearts we may lament the unrewarded certitude we have given God.
So ends the first half of the psalm. The first fourteen verses observe life as it really is when we are not company to God’s peerless Presence.
Such a sweeping encouragement: a psalm, a piece of regal Scripture, unveiling the truth about how we feel when disposed to personal injustices. Life makes these thoughts relevant to everyone. Everyone, and not just God, hates it when injustice reaps what looks to be blessing. Psalm 73:1-14 speaks of just that.
“In Thought for Wisdom – That for Which I Am Now Thankful”
Let us not jump to verse 15 and those following just because the aforementioned are negative; they have built for us a truthful context which now leads us to God’s wisdom on the matter.
The hinge for the entire psalm is verse 17: all seemed forlorn “until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end.”
“Until” is the operative word. Such a nonchalant word, but oh so powerful in this milieu; it highlights the moment of revelation and, therefore, of salvation—the wisdom of the Lord made apparent.
The psalmist sees with fresh confidence what is coming to those who disrespect God. This allows him to refocus, and that focus is now consumed by entering into, practicing, the Presence of the Lord.
“Once I Was In YOUR Presence, LORD, I Saw Truthfully”
The character of true humility is visible in verses 21 and those following. Truth ushers the deportment of spiritual reason—the gift of Wisdom is deployed through the psalmist.
Those who come near to God, who have made the Lord their refuge, have come home to Perspective, and the blessing of real sight is made theirs.
Palpable encouragement! Practising the Presence of the Lord redefines our emotions. From an envious worldly focus our scope is turned onto eternity now. All things without God are passing away; all things of God will remain, forever. So says the Lord!
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.