Daily Devotional: Psalm 73:1-17

Daily Devotional: Psalm 73:1-17

Written by Pastor Phil Stout, Lead Pastor JAXNAZ Church

Read: Psalm 73:1-17

Psalm 73:1-17New International Version (NIV)

BOOK III
Psalms 73–89

Psalm 73
A psalm of Asaph.

1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.[a]
5 They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity[b];
their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.[c]
11 They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”
12 This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.
15 If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.

Start:

Consider: Why do bad things happen to good people? Many have lost their faith struggling with that question. Because, of course, that’s not an academic question. It’s a life question—a mystery that we live with every day. Because a satisfactory answer is hard to come by, some have abandoned God because they felt as though he had abandoned them.

In today’s reading we find the psalmist admitting that he had grappled with the question of evil, but with a slightly different take on that question. He asked why good things happen to bad people. He had become so frustrated with the thought that evil people prospered while he—thinking he was righteous—did not, that he totally lost perspective, to the point that he said, “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence” (73:13). In other words, what’s the point of being faithful to God if he doesn’t reward me for it? What’s the point of trying to live a pure life?

Is that why we obey God? Is that why we follow the way of Christ? Are we simply trying to get good things from him?

To me the turning point of this psalm comes with a simple statement…

“When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God…” (73:16-17)

Understanding did not come through logic. It didn’t come through a verbal answer from God. It came from entering into God’s presence. This is a different kind of understanding. This is a different kind of knowledge.

Worship brings perspective. We should question, struggle and search for answers. We should try to connect our logic and reason to our faith. But we must not reduce our understanding of God to what we can comprehend with our minds. We will never have a proper perspective on God or on life if we fail to enter into God’s presence—“the sanctuary of God”—and worship him. Whether we are singing together, praying together, listening to the reading and expounding of the scriptures or together partaking of the bread and the wine at Christ’s table, we open ourselves to a level of understanding that can only be gained through worship.

Pray: “Lord, help me to enter your sanctuary every day so that I can know you and express my love to you. Sometimes it will be the sanctuary that only you and I occupy as I spend time alone with you. Other times it will be the sanctuary where the Body of Christ meets. I covenant with you to worship you ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:23).”

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