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Asaph's Victory over Jealousy and Bitterness (Psalm 73)

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Psalm 73 Feb. 10 A Psalm by Asaph.  1Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2But as for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had nearly slipped. 3For I was envious of the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4For there are no struggles in their death, but their strength is firm. 5They are free from the burdens of men, neither are they plagued like other men. 6Therefore pride is like a chain around their neck, violence covers them like a garment. 7Their eyes bulge with fat, their minds pass the limits of conceit. 8They scoff and speak with malice; in arrogance, they threaten oppression. 9They have set their mouth in the heavens, their tongue walks through the earth. 10Therefore their people return to them, and they drink up waters of abundance. 11They say, How does God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High? 12Behold, these are the wicked. Being always at ease, they increase in riches. 13Surely in vain I have cleansed my heart, and washed my hands in innocence, 14for all day long have I been plagued, and punished every morning. 15If I had said, I will speak thus; behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children. 16When I tried to understand this, it was too painful for me; 17until I entered God’s sanctuary, and considered their latter end. 18Surely You set them in slippery places, You threw them down to destruction. 19How they were suddenly destroyed! They were completely swept away with terrors. 20As a dream when one wakes up, so, Lord, when You awake, You will despise their fantasies. 21For my soul was grieved, I was embittered in my heart. 22I was so senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You. 23Nevertheless, I am continually with You. You have held my right hand, 24You will guide me with Your word, and afterwards receive me in glory. 25Whom do I have in heaven? There is no one on earth whom I desire besides You. 26My flesh and my heart fails, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27For, behold, those who are far from You shall perish. You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. 28But it is good for me to come close to God. I have made the Lord Yahweh my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.    


73:17 Asaph as a temple servant would have had access to the altar, which was plated with the censers of those sinners who had rebelled against God in the desert (Num. 16:38). There the earth suddenly opened and swallowed them up- alluded to in :18,19. Looking at those plates, he saw that finally judgment does come to the wicked, and even those who appear to die in peace will ultimately be judged. The apparent prosperity of the wicked and the way that they don’t always receive judgment in this life simply deepens our faith in the reality of a judgment to come, at which the wicked will be resurrected and judged for their actions in this life. Seeing that God judges sin, and yet sinners don’t always get judged in this life, forces us to this understanding- which is in any case presented specifically in the Bible. Asaph admits throughout the Psalm that his jealousy of the wealthy and prosperous sinners had eaten him up to the point of obsession and spiritual destruction; but he came to his senses by realizing the reality of future judgment. That basic doctrine should mean the same for us too.