A Reflection on Psalm 73
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.Psalm 73:12-17, ESV
At the men’s small group last week we discussed Psalms 73. It is a journey the psalmist takes as he attempts to understand the prosperity of the wicked. He explained the extent of their prosperity and exposes the wickedness that is entangled with it. At the end of the day, so it seems, they are at ease and increase in riches on earth. Or aren’t they? We learn later in the song that they are anything but secure.
What one of the members pointed out was that this psalmist probably knew what the stock responses were to the question of wickedness and prosperity. He would have been familiar with the promises of God to his people in Deuteronomy chapter 28 as well as the curses for those who did not obey the commands of God. And yet here we see a person who is not able to account for what is going on in the life of the wicked and his life at a heart level with the knowledge in his head.
This is a common problem with those who fear the Lord. Sure, he knows not to fret himself because of evil doers, because of those who prosper doing their own thing. God has said they will surely face the consequences. But what was going on in real life squares with what he knows to be true from God’s Word. He was at a loss to explain why the wicked surrounding him were doing so well. The observation made by this brother was that God permitted the psalmist to cry out to Him about this anyway. In one sense he should have simply appropriated in his mind all of the truths and promises surrounding this topic and moved on. But he couldn’t and that was OK with God. In other words, we can engage in our struggles and complaints with God without being reproved or reprimanded for doing so.
This complaint before the Lord was not at all the same as the complaints of Israel in the wilderness. In the wilderness the Israelites complained to each other about God instead of to God. Secondly, the Israelites called God into question whereas the psalmist came to God with his question. As a result, God gave him the answer of the heart and opened his eyes to see what he couldn’t see yet in spite of all the knowledge he had. In the case of Ancient Israel, they were judged for their unbelief.
We should be encouraged. When we have questions about how life doesn’t seem to square with what we know, when we are at that point in life where all that we know isn’t helping us in our struggle, when we are unable to manage our sanctification as an act of our will and lose control of how we are responding to a situation, we can come before God in that raw state and cry out in raw honesty and God hears and responds.
Thank you brother, for letting us know that no matter how much knowledge we may have, no matter how much we might have all the answers but find ourselves wrestling with a conundrum, God will meet us at that very point and carry us through the valley of the shadow of death. Praise the Lord!
Are you struggling right now with some aspect of your faith? Do you have deep doubts that you cannot resolve? This psalm invites you to engage in that wrestling match before God, to God, from your heart and allow Him to reveal to you the answer of the heart.