Good morning, all! This week we spent our time in the 70’s (Psalms 71-80 that is!) A couple of summers ago I discovered Psalm 73 anew, and was so excited to discover that I would get to share with you the week we encountered it together. It has been a source of strength and comfort, reassurance and hope for me these past couple of years. I was doing a study of the phrase “but God”. I wanted to see all the places where my circumstances were outweighed by God’s sovereignty. We know in our heads that God is supreme over everything, and we need reminders sometimes when our circumstances attempt to obstruct our view of Him.
Psalm 73 is a psalm of wisdom. The writer is seeking to remind the singers of this psalm of God’s faithfulness when they are tempted to bitterness by the prosperity of unbelievers around them. He says in verses 2 and 3:
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.
Everyday we encounter people who are not believers, and when we try to tell them about their need for Jesus some have a hard time believing us. Their lives are going great! Look at my new house! Look at my great job! My family is doing all these things and we are sooooo happy together! What could I possibly need Jesus for? Meanwhile, we look at our lives, often filled with hardships, trials, and suffering of various kinds. We may be tempted to ask the same question, just like the psalmist is saying. He even says in verse 16,
16 But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
However, I love his response to his weariness in verse 17:
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end. (emphasis mine)
The psalms are a great model to us for how to respond to God in our circumstances. They cover a wide range of emotions, from joy to anger to angst to desperation. In all of them we are shown that it is not the emotion that is wrong, it how we respond that is right or wrong. The right response here to our confusion, our feelings of injustice, our hurt, our wanting to understand is this: to enter the sanctuary of God. It was not until the writer entered into God’s presence and shelter that he discerned their end.
There he understood that life is not all about the here and now. The Gospel is all about the now and the not yet. The glimpse now of the greatness that is yet to be. He sees that even in his “brutish and ignorant (v22)” response to his circumstances, there is hope. Verse 23 says “Nevertheless”. What is so great about Jesus? His love for us has nothing to do with us! Nevertheless. His love is not about what we do to deserve it (because nothing we do can deserve it!). It has everything to do with Him. Who He is. What He is. And how He loves. He loves first.
The psalmist realizes that he is continually with God, not because he is holding on to God, but because God is holding on to him. He realizes in verse 26 (which is the verse that brought me to this psalm in my But God search):
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
But God. Everything else around me can crumble and fall, I may lose loved ones, illness can wreak havoc on my life, anything. Anything and everything around me can go wrong, and my flesh and my heart may fail. BUT GOD . . .
He is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.
My prayer for you is that you would know this. Know it. Cling to it. Rely on it when you are spent, and even when you are not. Because verse 23 reminds you He is holding your right hand.