Psalm 73 is unique in that it tells a story about the psalmist’s struggles with envy, doubts, and his faith in God. However, through his struggles the psalmist Asaph learned to trust in God.
Asaph describes what the pleasures of life could offer him based on the fortunes and prosperity of those around him (vs. 3-5). They had everything their hearts wanted and more and did not lack for anything. They had the confidence of one who could do anything he wished because he had no fear of the consequences. The psalmist describes his temptation to be envious of those earthly possessions because of how much easier they made living.
Asaph also observed the wickedness of his neighbors. They clothed themselves with violence to protect the pride they wore as jewelry (v. 6). The wicked mocked the Almighty God. Their attitude expressed an atheistic view by showing their doubt to His existence. One could say their attitude also expressed a deistic view in that if He did exist He was disengaged from the people (v. 11). Because they had no fear of or respect for God, the wicked felt and accordingly behaved as though there was no reason to give thought to their actions, to care for others, or to filter what comes out of their mouth (vs. 6-12). After all, if one does not believe in God, then he does not have to fear any consequences of committing sin not punishable by human law.
Asaph began to doubt himself for being good because he was plagued and chastened every morning (vs. 13-14). What was the point of all his suffering if this is what being good cost? It was too painful for Asaph to comprehend… until he went into the sanctuary of God (vs. 16-17). Only then did he come to understand the ultimate destiny of the wicked: destruction (vs. 18-20, 27).
Ladies, the world seems like it has a lot to offer us. Wealth, pride, and pleasures of all kinds are at the top of the list. However, in reality the world is a sinking ship. Asaph observed how the wicked spoke loftily, and the unfaithful of today share the same attitude (v. 8). The Hebrew word used for loftily means “‘haughtily,’ as if from on high.’” If we don’t serve the Most High God, we become self-serving and lead a sinful life. How would we be different than those evil people described in the psalm?
When we seek to serve ourselves, we don’t always make the right choices. Just look at the way people dress immodestly, speak hatefully to one another, use foul language, treat others disrespectfully, lie, steal, cheat and use the name of our God and Savior in vain. In addition, we see how people are affected negatively by greed and power every day. The news and cable programs on television reflect society’s unscriptural view of marriage and its promotion of irresponsible parenthood. The media also promotes premarital lust and fornication. Furthermore, people turn to drugs and alcohol to escape their troubled hearts, minds, and souls instead of turning to God for relief and comfort. I’m sure Asaph witnessed many of these same sins.
Feminism in some ways has been detrimental to the mindset of Christian women. God instructs women to be submissive to their husbands in everything “for the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church” (Eph. 5:22-24). Ladies, do not think because you can gain power and money in your place of employment that you are entitled to rule your household. It is good for a woman to be able to provide for herself and her family within the guidelines set by God. Paul writes to Titus beseeching the older women to admonish the younger women to be home-makers and obedient to their own husbands (Titus 2:3-5). When choosing to work outside the home, ask yourself “Am I doing this because I want to or because I need to?”
Ladies, you don’t have to go down with the ship. Satan made his choice. He took the pathway that leads to destruction and awaits eternal damnation. He wants you to come with him. That is why he fuels your selfish desires. Abandon ship! Ladies, remember that you have a life preserver in Jesus Christ. He has planned to rescue you before the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34). Yes, you are that important to Him! Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6).
Sadly, choosing to serve Jesus is a choice that few make “because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life” (Matt. 7:13-14). It is easier to serve ourselves and obtain our own satisfaction than it is to serve God. In order to serve God, we must make sacrifices of what we have, such as money and personal time, as well as what we allow ourselves to do. Asaph realized how the wicked are on the brink of disaster and how their wealth and pride are valueless in the place of eternity (vs. 18-19). Although we can empathize with Asaph for wanting to make things easy for himself, we can rejoice in his decision to renew his trust in God and his commitment to Him. Ladies, are we making the same decision?
When life gets hard and you start to doubt yourself or your faith weakens, do what Asaph did. Go to God and He will straighten things out for you. It was after doing this that Asaph realized his foolishness and was penitently thankful for God’s protection, counsel and reward (vs. 21-24). As a result, his trust in God was renewed as we can see in verses 25-26: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Although being righteous as God asks will cost you things you could have while you are here on earth, it is something worth dying for because the reward is far greater than any pleasure this world could give. Going to God is no further than a prayer away and the effort of studying God’s Word is well worth it. It is the most important investment you could ever make and it has the most rewarding return! As Asaph said in verses 27-28, “For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry. 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 Your works.”
James instructs us to “submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jas. 4:7-8). Ladies, we are drawing near to God when we study our Bibles, pray, thank Him for all our many blessings, sing hymns and spiritual songs, and keep His commandments. I have found that I have to consciously make these decisions. Sometimes I struggle to study and pray as I should because I would rather read a novel, watch a movie, take a nap with my son, or run errands. However, when I choose to do God’s will for me, I benefit tremendously. The more I study and meditate upon God’s Word, the closer His teachings are at the front of my mind. Consequently I become more proactive with initial godly choices instead of reactive with self-serving choices. I can tell when I have not studied God’s Word enough because I end up looking back at a situation with remorse and repentance on what I should have done because the biblical teachings were at the back of my mind at the time. If only I had remembered God’s counsel when I needed to remember it! Ladies, only with continual study and meditation will we store up God’s words in our hearts so that we don’t sin against Him (Ps. 119:11).
It is best to approach situations with God in mind in foresight rather than hindsight. Asaph and James would agree that one can only do this if he or she is drawing near to God. When I draw near to God in the ways described above, my relationship with my husband is better because I remember to be submissive and exhort the qualities found in Titus 2:3-5 and Proverbs 31:10-31. I feel like I am a better mother, a better friend, and a better teacher when I put to practice what I study in 1 Corinthians 13 where love is described. In these ways God has drawn near to me because I have drawn near to Him by studying His Word. Furthermore, studying has improved my prayer life because I learn the areas in my life that need improvement and can therefore petition the Almighty for assistance. Since there is always room for improvement, this will be a life- long process that takes a life-long commitment. However, we can accomplish it with God’s help (Phil. 4:13)!
In conclusion, we must regard the warning of Psalm 73 to not be envious of the prosperity of the wicked for they will receive their judgment in due time. Let us renew our trust and confidence in God by drawing near to Him through studying the Bible and prayer. I am thankful that God has given us in written form the tools to help us be successful in keeping His commandments. When we choose to use them, we will be better Christian women overall.