Psalm 73:1-28 (ESV)

A Psalm of Asaph.

Truly God is good to Israel,

to those who are pure in heart.

[2] But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,

my steps had nearly slipped.

[3] For I was envious of the arrogant

when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

[4] For they have no pangs until death;

their bodies are fat and sleek.

[5] They are not in trouble as others are;

they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.

[6] Therefore pride is their necklace;

violence covers them as a garment.

[7] Their eyes swell out through fatness;

their hearts overflow with follies.

[8] They scoff and speak with malice;

loftily they threaten oppression.

[9] They set their mouths against the heavens,

and their tongue struts through the earth.

[10] Therefore his people turn back to them,

and find no fault in them.

[11] And they say, “How can God know?

Is there knowledge in the Most High?”

[12] Behold, these are the wicked;

always at ease, they increase in riches.

[13] All in vain have I kept my heart clean

and washed my hands in innocence.

[14] For all the day long I have been stricken

and rebuked every morning.

[15] If I had said, “I will speak thus,”

I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

[16] But when I thought how to understand this,

it seemed to me a wearisome task,

[17] until I went into the sanctuary of God;

then I discerned their end.

[18] Truly you set them in slippery places;

you make them fall to ruin.

[19] How they are destroyed in a moment,

swept away utterly by terrors!

[20] Like a dream when one awakes,

O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.

[21] When my soul was embittered,

when I was pricked in heart,

[22] I was brutish and ignorant;

I was like a beast toward you.

[23] Nevertheless, I am continually with you;

you hold my right hand.

[24] You guide me with your counsel,

and afterward you will receive me to glory.

[25] Whom have I in heaven but you?

And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

[26] My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

[27] For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;

you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.

[28] But for me it is good to be near God;

I have made the Lord God my refuge,

that I may tell of all your works.

The age of the Psalms is always a relevant thing to consider when studying them and seeking to understand their application of or us today. When we encounter the expression of emotion, the frustrations with life, the challenges to the Almighty, the anguish and angst and more, we need to remember that these Psalms were not written yesterday.

We can sometimes fall into thinking that the heroes of the past, especially a great King like David, were not bothered with the concerns that plague us. We can think that they had life together, that God was always very real and close and that the doubts that haunt us were yet to be invented. All this is wrong.  And it is very helpful to know that it is .

A thousand years before Jesus was born, David and the other Psalmists were writing about very real situations and very real responses from their hearts. We need to be as transparent today. We need to be able to say “I don’t like what is going on here. I don’t think God really cares for me. I don’t know why God is so far away …”, if that is how we feel.

There may be sin in some of these feelings and thoughts but even if that is the case we will not become less sinful by pretending they do not exist. And we are more likely to get on the right road if we speak to God from our hearts, even when what is in the heart is not much to write home about. God knows what we are thinking and feeling and planning. It would be a good idea to show enough respect for the omniscience of God by not trying to hide them from Him. We should tell Him, in prayer just what our feelings, thoughts and responses to life are and seek His help.

God does not just help us deal with a sinful world and temptations that come from without. He helps us with us. The Christian I have the most difficulty with is me, and the more believers realize that the biggest obstacle in their walk with God is themselves the better off they will be. But improvement will not occur until we get brutally honest with God and with ourselves. Tell God how you feel. He will not be surprised and he will not be shocked. And since you are His, He will help you.

All of that is a long introduction to Psalm 73 (and it could be an introduction to a lot of other Scripture as well). But just look and listen to Asaph and what he says about Himself in the presence of God.

Do you talk about yourself and to God with such honesty and transparency? Do you let God know how you are feeling? He knows already. And He is not pleased when you act as if they were not what they are. We should be very thankful for what God inspired the Psalmists to write. We see in the Psalms real people with real feelings that are just like ours. We see the mercy of God in how He responded to the feelings of the one who expressed them.

The Psalms were written by real people with real problems and real doubts and real issues that they wanted God to deal with. And so often we see real faith expressed that should encourage our hearts because they were in the dark about the purposes of God in their circumstances as we are. They were men just like us. And the God who got them through their crisis moments is the same one who will get us through ours. Don’t romanticize the lives and times of the biblical authors. They were real men. They were like us. God does not use super men. He uses ordinary clay pots so that the excellency of the power may be seen to be Him and not us. What a God and what a Gospel.