(Meditating on Psalm 73)
I can so relate with Asaph. Read this:
Truly God is good to Israel,
To such as 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 boastful,
When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalm 73:1-3)
They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills. (vv. 4-5 NIV)
Just like Asaph, I honestly believed what I observed, and because of that, I often lacked joy and gratitude. Envy and discontentment would invade my days ferociously, and I would often succumb to them. Although I revelled in the presence of the Lord during worship, I just couldn’t shake off the practice of looking at other people’s lives and comparing. You see, just as Asaph had actually believed for a time that he had cleansed his heart in vain – following closely after godliness and willingly yielding himself to God’s chastening every morning (vv. 13 and 14) – I lamented God’s refining of me, too, and envied those people whom I thought are “untouched” by the Lord. That is, the hand of God was not heavy upon them.
All day long I have been afflicted…
When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply. (vv. 14 and 16 NIV)
Ah, these words! So familiar. Having gone through physical suffering for so long, I used to dwell in them. They were constant companions.
Oh yes, until I went in to the sanctuary and the Spirit of the Lord spoke in my heart and made me understand. He made me see my error, my weakness. He made me see the painful truth: my heart was bitter and it wasn’t doing me any good.
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you. (vv. 21-22 NIV)
The psalmist and I, aren’t we kindred spirits? For when the Lord made me realize my foolishness, I was greatly ashamed. When He made me remember His salvation, His great mercies upon me – taking me out of the miry clay and saving me mightily and giving me life so I could be with Him through eternity – I lay at His feet – repentant, humbled.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (vv. 23-26 NIV)
Ah! This is my song! These beautiful words – they are mine and they are true in my life. There’s nothing truer. He’s my portion forever! How could have I easily forgotten?
When I am weak and tempted to look at other people , I will remember Psalm 73.
And the story of the pig. Its master feeds him everyday so that it grows fatter and fatter. He washes it also. It does nothing but eat and sleep and sometimes digs on the earth with its snout for its pleasure. It is as if its master loves it so. But we know where the poor thing will end up someday – to the abattoir (like what vv. 18-20 say).
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds. (v. 28 NIV)
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