One prominent Psalmist was Asaph. Although David wrote many of the Psalms he was not the only writer. Psalm 73 begins with a complaint as Asaph questions the prosperity of the wicked around him and the result of his observations in his own life. Are not these observations very real to us today as we observe the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer?
“Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73: 1 – 3 NIV)
When we take our eyes off the Good Shepherd who is leading us we are prone to become envious of those around us who appear to prosper in spite of their wickedness and arrogance. Our footing become precarious in the spiritual sense when we contemplate the world rather than the ways of Christ.
Asaph goes on to describe the easy life of the wicked and arrogant:
“They have not struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, `How could God know? Does the Most High know anything?’ This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.” (Psalm 73: 4 – 12 NIV)
Asaph considers all of this and begins to apply it to his personal life until he recognizes the destruction to himself and those around him involved:
“Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.
“If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
As Asaph pauses in God’s sanctuary, the light of understanding comes and he begins to understand the true picture:
“Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.” (Psalm 73: 18 – 20 NIV)
Asaph realizes the personal destruction such contemplation of evil can bring:
“When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. (Psalm 73: 21, 22 NIV)
Finally, Asaph concludes the Psalm with recognition of our place in God and the final result of trusting in God:
“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
“Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 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.” (Psalm 73: 23 – 28 NIV)
It is good to contemplate the Psalms from time to time and make applications to our own lives.