A psalm of Asaph.
1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 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.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”
12 This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.
15 If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
when you arise, Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.
21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 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.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 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.
Google Earth is mindblowing. I love exploring in street view, taking a close up look at things. But what I love even more is the view from above, where I can take in the big picture and get a context for everything I saw down on the streets.
Verses 1-16 of this Psalm are a street view exploration of life in this world, and as the Psalmist takes in all he sees on the streets, he’s not impressed. He can’t make sense of what he sees. Everything seems inside out and upside down, which triggers doubts and prompts deep questions. His confidence about God’s goodness, asserted in verse 1, is systematically challenged through the next 15 verses. In a nutshell, if God is really good, why are the wicked people the ones having all the fun in this world while the righteous suffer? Perhaps my belief in God is “in vain” (verse 13).
Long before Google Earth was invented, there was somewhere you could go to see the big picture. There was somewhere you could visit that gave you an even bigger picture of what’s really going on in this world. It’s where the Psalmist goes in verse 17. It’s a place where he starts to see things very differently. This place is the sanctuary of God, the temple of God. In that place, the Psalmist is now looking at things from God’s point of view. And what he sees blows away all his doubts and questions. He sees the reality of God’s judgment on all who would defy him. And in seeing that reality, he turns in his heart back to God.
Wrestling with doubts and questions are an important part of growing and strengthening our faith. We have a place to take these doubts and questions that is even more powerful than where the Psalmist went. We can go to the cross of Jesus, for the ultimate big picture of what is going on in this world. Whatever the world might look like at street view, the cross shows us the ultimate realities of God’s judgment and love.
Head: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 73? What have you learnt about yourself?
Heart: How does it make you feel that there is a place of certainty you can go to with all your doubts and questions?
Hands: As you live your day down in street view, consider how you might regularly pray, asking God to help you see things from his viewpoint, through the cross of Jesus.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that I have somewhere I can take my doubts and questions. Thank you that when life looks upside down and inside out in street view, I have somewhere I can go to make sense of it all. So thank you for the cross which speaks so clearly of the ultimate realities of your love and judgment which tower over this world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.