Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore his people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them.
And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
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.
Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when you rouse yourself,
you despise them as phantoms.
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
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.
I find myself identifying all too well with the author of Psalm 73. I know from experience, this type of feeling and questioning ebbs and flows throughout life, but right now, I’m in the thick of it. How many of us can relate? How many of us look at the prosperity of the wicked and question the Lord’s faithfulness to those who love him? I would dare say that all of us could relate.
The Psalmist shares his heart by revealing how he slipped away from the Lord when he examined the prosperity of the wicked. Despite their selfish ways, despite their lack of love and desire for the Lord, they prospered. He saw their prosperity as unfair and he resented it (v2-3).
Often I see the prosperity of others as my lack. I have found myself resenting someone who receives something good and valuable, while I sit and beg the Lord for the longings of my heart. This author is speaking directly about those who are not in relationship with the Lord, but why stop there? When we focus on the prosperity of others and we are resentful of it, we must examine our own hearts. Why am I not happy for them? Why am I hurt by their gain? We should celebrate the generosity and faithfulness of the Lord in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and even in those who don’t know him. My reaction to the prosperity of others should only reveal the love of Christ.
Our author identifies his feelings as wrong and goes on to seek counsel from the Lord in private, as he doesn’t want others who are pure before the Lord to stumble by his questions (v13-17). It is only when he goes before the Lord that he gains understanding.
I imagine the Lord dealing with our friend softly, gently, and compassionately. The Lord reminded him that his gain is only in Christ, and the prosperous he is so envious of do not hold that promise (v18-20). My friends, it is only when we seek counsel from our heavenly Father that we will receive wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Seeking it on our own accord will surely bring us the things of this world.
Over and over again this last month the Lord has shown me that He is faithful in my obedience. His faithfulness has revealed to me that the prosperity of the world, which I have been setting my eyes on, is not the prosperity I want in my life; I want the prosperity that comes with truly, intimately knowing Christ. My dear sisters, I am praying that you and I can know the difference and keep our eyes set on him. In this, we will be able to rejoice in the prosperity of others. Let us be women who set our eyes so intimately on our Savior that nothing gets in the way or shakes us.
“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. (v25-26)”
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