Psalm 73 is a Psalm of what happens when as John MacArthur says, our faith gets buried under self-pity. We tend to focus inward when times are tough for us and this invariably leads to self pity, and “woe is me” thinking.
Such is the state of the Psalmist. He knows God is good, and so do we! Circumstances can bring us low and cause us to wonder if God is listening, if He knows our plight, and if He cares. The Psalmist refers to this as coming close to the edge of the cliff.
1 Truly God is good to Israel,
to those whose hearts are pure.
2 But as for me, I came so close to the edge of the cliff!
My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
He realizes that this place of self-pity is a slippery slope that carries him downward into even greater sin. It is no different for you and I my reading friends. Have you been to the edge of this same kind of cliff? I certainly have and not so long ago either! I did not only stumble I fell flat on my face. Were it not for being God’s Kept Woman I would have surely fallen to my spiritual death. Thank God for His promise to keep His own (John 10:29) and never let us go!
3 For I envied the proud
when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
4 They seem to live such a painless life;
their bodies are so healthy and strong.
5 They aren’t troubled like other people
or plagued with problems like everyone else. (NLT)
Here we find the decent into greater sin; pride and envy of the wicked. Pride is a bottomless pit from which springs the death of spiritual growth, discontent, envy, and a host of other sins. It is tough for us not to look upon the wicked and see their “freedom” and “ease” of life!
So much of the Christian life is an advertisement for pain and suffering, isn’t it? At times we envy the relative ease of the unbeliever choosing to set aside the words of Jesus and the words of Peter who both warned us that we would surely suffer for doing what is right (1 Peter 4:12-13; Matt. 10:34)
It is preferable in our hearts to acquire happiness and peace, flitting our way through life each day, taking our ease.
5 They are not in trouble as other men,
Nor are they plagued like mankind.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
The garment of violence covers them.
7 Their eye bulges from fatness;
The imaginations of their heart run riot.
8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;
They speak from on high.
9 They have set their mouth against the heavens,
And their tongue parades through the earth. (NASB)
Notice that the Psalmist says in verse 7 “the imaginations of their heart run riot” which is another reference to the heart being the control center of your being. As you think in your heart, so goes your life! Pride and all this wickedness are contained in the heart of man and these things cause us to doubt the goodness of God.
I am also amused in how the Psalmist talks about “they” and “their” with almost a petulant whine in his voice. I have the mental picture of a child hopping up and down, fists clenched telling his daddy about all the other kids who have this or that at school and he doesn’t; and it’s not fair! We seem to really be stuck on what is “fair” forgetting that if God lived by what was fair we would all go to hell when we die. We forget that mercy and fairness are not on the same playing field, and thank God for that!
10 And so the people are dismayed and confused,
drinking in all their words.
11 “Does God realize what is going on?” they ask.
“Is the Most High even aware of what is happening?”
12 Look at these arrogant people—
enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13 Was it for nothing that I kept my heart pure
and kept myself from doing wrong?
14 All I get is trouble all day long;
every morning brings me pain.
15 If I had really spoken this way,
I would have been a traitor to your people.
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
But what a difficult task it is!
We often ask ourselves in the quietness of our hearts why God allows such injustice to take place. It appears He rewards evil behavior and ungodly living with peace and ease in life. When we buy into the lies being promoted by their lifestyle our thoughts can and often do go in the direction the Psalmist takes in vv 13-14. If you are entirely honest with yourself, you may have to admit that there are times when you wonder if it is truly worth it all. The suffering becomes so great, and the despair becomes so heavy that you think that it would be better and easier to become one of them!