“Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure.
But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.
Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.”
Psalms 73:1-3, 13-14, 17 NLT
A new Psalmist appears on the block – a guy called Asaph. And straight away he sets out his dilemma. In modern parlance, he lives his life God’s way, but experiences the same hassles and challenges in life as everyone else. But here was his rub – those he categorised as “wicked” were having a good time, better than his. They were prosperous and healthy. They didn’t seem to have the same difficulties in life that he did. You can almost imagine his thoughts behind the more measured tone of his writings. “Hey God! It’s not fair! I live a life Your way but all these people who don’t are better off than I am”.
Two things strike me. Firstly it is his honesty. He wasn’t afraid of laying before God the apparent unfairness and injustices of life. Secondly, what he experienced hasn’t changed from his day. We look around us today and see the same quandary. The gap between the rich and poor seems to ever widen. The rich are having a good time, superficially at least. The poor are not.
Asaph laid out before God the apparent inequity and injustice of a Godly life when compared with the life lived by godless people. He tried to get his mind around the reasons that would seem to favour the lives of those who denied the very relevance and existence of God. He felt his peers, fellow Godly people, were confused about the situation too. You see, his expectation was that God would zap these wicked people and get rid of them because of their arrogance and conduct. “Why, God, are You allowing them to get away with it!”, might have been his cry. Still perplexed, he wanders into the temple and all of a sudden, everything becomes clear. He gets God’s perspective and it breaks through his growing bitterness, bringing a new dawn of understanding and relief into his thinking. What had changed? He realised that people cannot get away with living in a wicked, anti-God, way for ever. There will come a time of reckoning. He finally understood there will be a time for God’s judgement, but for now it was a time for God’s grace.
It is the same today. Sadly, so many people live a life without any appreciation of their Creator God. And they don’t seem to suffer for it. But they have totally missed the reality that God exists and one day they will stand before Him. And claiming ignorance will not be a defence. God’s grace will have been available to them all their lives but they have rejected it and turned away into a Godless existence.
Asaph finally understands and in God’s warm embrace he writes, “Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” And I echo those words this morning. Please join me in praising and thanking our wonderful and glorious God.