By LOU TISCIONE
Psalm 73 speaks to the root cause of frustration and anger. The Psalmist described his frustration caused by the prosperity of the wicked. He could not understand how the wicked could go unpunished while they enjoyed prosperity.
The Psalmist knew that God was the source of all that is good. He also knew that God was holy and just. His struggle with knowing the holiness of God and seeing the prosperity of the wicked caused him to be frustrated.
“Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Psalm 73:1-3 (ESV)
The human author, Asaph was placed in charge of the singers and musicians in God’s House. King David assigned him the task of leading God’s people to thank Him and praise Him.
The first three verses put his frustration into perspective. Asaph addressed Israel in general and specifically those who are “pure in heart,” meaning genuine believers.
He reminded us of the goodness of God. God is always good. The Bible says that God is the source of all that is good. James wrote in his epistle, “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
Asaph acknowledged his own weakness. He said, “My feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.” Asaph was close to being overwhelmed by the prosperity of the wicked. He said that he was envious of their worldly success.
He saw the wicked prosper in the midst of their arrogance. Asaph experienced what we are experiencing. He saw the proud and arrogant living above the law. We see our leaders selectively enforce the law. He saw men acting selfishly at the expense of others. We see men using the law for their own purposes. Asaph declared that these arrogant and proud men escaped any judgment in this life. “For they have no pangs until death…” Psalm 73:4a
It was obvious to Asaph that the only time of judgment for these men was death. This was little comfort to him as all men die, even the righteous die.
Asaph kept looking for justice and found none. The wicked were living in great prosperity and no one was holding them accountable for their actions. He was at a loss to explain their prosperity in the face of a good God. “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task.” Psalm 73:16
Compound what you see concerning the prosperity of the wicked with the reality that many people don’t seem to care to do anything about it and you have the formula for deep frustration leading to anger, symptomatic of our society.
One of the great comforts given to us in the Psalms is that godly men experienced what we experience and that God not only listened but He answered them in their distress. Asaph received God’s response to this injustice.
Asaph wrote God’s words as he was carried along by the Holy Spirit. Asaph received God’s answer and it is important for us to observe where he received it. “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” Psalm 73:17 Asaph received God’s answer in corporate worship. He entered God’s House and was able to discern the end of the wicked. As he worshiped God everything was put into an ultimate perspective.
Everyone must answer to God. This life is not all that there is. Like Asaph, Christians know that they are sinners and that Jesus paid for their sins. Christians also know that God has promised to forgive them and continually cleanse them from unrighteousness when they confess their sins to Him. The rest of mankind will fall under the wrath of the holy God. They are without hope.
If you are relying upon Christ alone you are secure. Remember that He will execute final justice on those who arrogantly live for themselves. They may prosper now, but they will not escape the wrath of God for eternity!
Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).