This Psalm is one of 12 attributed to Asaph. Asaph was the priest in charge of ministering in front of the Ark of the Covenant each day. (1 Chronicles 16:4-7). He was a “worship leader” as well as a talented singer, poet, composer, and a prophet. (2 Chronicles 29:30).
Do you ever feel like following Jesus is getting you nowhere? Our heart’s desires are many and various. For me the longing was always to be married and have children. I try very hard to always make the right choice, the responsible choice and the choice I believe is God’s will. But I have been envious of people who made the wrong choices and have what I always wanted. I committed myself to purity to glorify The Lord and they had sex with anyone they chose. They have husbands, children, and grandchildren. I do not. I have had times when I wondered if I should have given in and given up my virginity, maybe then I would have the family I always dreamed of having.
Asaph felt similarly. This Psalm echoes some of my feelings. Verses 1-7 read,
“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.”
Sometimes it can seem like the less a person cares about humanity, compassion or justice, the happier, wealthier, and more powerful he is. It seems like the immoral get everything they want. And that may be true on this earth.
They have hardened their hearts, so they can’t hear The Holy Spirit. They talk a good talk and lead people down the slippery slope to Hell with them. They are on top of the world and they are proud of it. They laugh at us, the believers. They think God is merely a crutch. They think the proof is in their bank accounts. Verses 8-12 say,
“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.”
Comparing our lives to theirs can be discouraging. It can cause bitterness. If we look too much at this present earth and not enough at the whole picture we can lose hope, and we can cause others to lose hope. If we spend our time wishing for what others have, we can’t enjoy what we have. God has given us so much, and there is joy and wonder in life with Him. If my eyes are on the women who made the choices I knew were wrong and now seem to have the life I wanted, then my eyes are not on Jesus. If my heart is bitter because the one thing I wanted as a child is not mine, then my heart cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit and His overflowing love. If I spend my time wanting what I do not have instead of enjoying all I do have, who would want to know Jesus because of me? Verses 13-17 read,
“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.”
But whatever pursuits, gains, and benefits the sinful have on this earth on for this earth only. Putting our eyes on the temporary delights of this world makes us lose sight of our eternal hope, of our Lord, and of our mission on this earth. It makes us ineffectual Christians and the enemy is elated at about it. 2 Corinthians 4:13-18 encourages us,
“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
It is not the princedom of the earth that holds our joy and purpose it is the Kingdom of Heaven. The lost who have hardened their hearts and blasphemed The Holy Spirit will enjoy this life and then burn forever in the torment of Hell. But not all the lost have silenced The Spirit of Life. And the Father calls to them. He lets them make their choices and sends the consequences down on them. We can be a part of the great work of bringing the lost children to The Father through Jesus Christ. We can let The Holy Spirit pour out of us and show them how beautiful God is. But we can’t do it if we are so busy coveting what others have that we do not use the gifts and life we have been given. Verses 18-22 read,
“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.”
Lord, forgive me. I have been ignorant and brutish too often. I have let bitterness for what I didn’t have drown out the joy of The Lord. But He is always with me and He forgave my witlessness and my wrongly placed anger. He removed the bitterness that filled me up and satiated me with Himself. He filled me up and permeated my heart, soul, mind, and strength. He made me new when I became a follower of Christ, and when I forgot who I was, He reminded me I was no longer dead and I have eternal life, beautiful everlasting hope, and more joy than any lost person can ever know. Verses 23-28 read,
“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.”
Believer, are your eyes on Jesus or your neighbor? Are you comparing your lawn to his and coveting all the things he has? Does he have Jesus? Does he have The Holy Spirit? Does he know The Father? Will the joy and praise you live your life with lead him to God? You have entered the glory of God, does your life and love show that?
Enjoy God. Live joyfully. Remember God’s grace is sufficient. We do not need anything that God doesn’t give us.