As we’ve seen this week, the quest for justice is important, but can be frustrating and is, ultimately, out of our hands. We’ll close out the week by looking at a great Psalm that recounts one man’s struggle with the seeming unfairness of life.
Psa 73:1-28 Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. (2) But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. (3) For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
(4) For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. (5) They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. (6) Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. (7) Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. (8) They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. (9) They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. (10) Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. (11) And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? (12) Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
(13) Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. (14) For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. (15) If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. (16) When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
(17) Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. (18) Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. (19) How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. (20) As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.
(21) Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. (22) So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. (23) Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. (24) Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. (25) Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. (26) My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
(27) For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. (28) 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.
Asaph was a Levite appointed to sing and play music in the temple at the direction of King David (1Ch 15:16-17). He is the human writer of a dozen Psalms. Psalm 73 is the record of Asaph’s struggle with the seeming unfairness of life.
Asaph’s begins his song by assuring his audience that God IS good to His people. So, he is telling us his story after he has gone through his struggle. He didn’t write this song just to express his doubts, but to tell us how he got through them. He didn’t want to trip up God’s children by complaining about what he didn’t understand.
Asaph saw wicked people prospering around him and he got jealous. They didn’t seem to have the problems in life, or in death, that good people like Asaph had. All their needs were met – they were fat and healthy. Even though they were proud and abusive, everything seemed to go well for them. They acted as if God didn’t know, or care, about what they were doing. Despite all this, they were well off.
Asaph felt like he had wasted his time trying to live right. He felt guilty, even when he hadn’t done anything wrong. He was extra careful about being right with God. Even so, it seemed like he had nothing but trouble in his life. He didn’t want to say anything to anyone else for fear of dragging them down with him, but it pained him to think this way about life and God.
There were two important steps in Asaph’s road to recovery. First, he went into the sanctuary of God. Being in the place where God is worshipped helped put things into proper perspective for Asaph. Second, in the house of God, he was able to view life from an eternal perspective. He understood that his evaluations had been short-sighted. In God’s presence, he realized that the prosperity of the wicked doesn’t last long and it ends badly.
When he realized his mistake, Asaph felt bad. He realized he had been living like an animal – evaluating life be the pain or pleasure he experienced in the moment. He understood that he was wrong to think ill of God before the story was ended.
Asaph finally understood that God is good. He realized that sin has a terrible price and that it was good for him to seek God. He ended up coming through the struggle trusting God.
What About You?
- Like Asaph, have you struggled with life’s seeming unfairness?
- Have you complained to others and turned from God because of your short-sighted view of life?
- Will you turn back to God and take an eternal view of life?