A devotion on PSALM 73.
1 God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart.
Good means best, most, favorable, beautiful, bountiful, prosperity, gracious, joyful, kind, loving, ready and sweet. He is these things to the chosen, to those he calls pure in heart. To be pure is to be clean, clear, examined, purged, clarified. Jesus said, “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” (Mt. 5:8). There is no greater glory and hope than to see God and be approved of by him.
In our study, we have seen the interweaving of the heart and the soul as the essence of a person, their personality as manifested in their will (the power to choose and control your actions), their intellect or thoughts, their desires, and their emotions (WIDE). The Christian’s daily challenge is to align and unite these four aspects of our being with the same aspects of God.
2 But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my steps nearly went astray.
This verse speaks of temptation, a strong compulsion to miss the mark. Think of your spirit in conjunction with God’s spirit as the pilot of your life; your heart/soul as the Head Stewardess; and your body/flesh as the airplane. This stewardess has a bent that desires to fly the airplane. That is neither her training nor her place. The un-surrendered life is controlled by the Head Stewardess and the plane goes where she wants. That is a dangerous flight, I mean plight.
3 For I envied the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have an easy time until they die, and their bodies are well fed.
5 They are not in trouble like others; they are not afflicted like most people.
6 Therefore, pride is their necklace, and violence covers them like a garment.
7 Their eyes bulge out from fatness; the imaginations of their hearts run wild.
8 They mock, and they speak maliciously; they arrogantly threaten oppression.
9 They set their mouths against heaven, and their tongues strut across the earth.
10 Therefore His people turn to them and drink in their overflowing words.
11 The wicked say, “How can God know? Does the Most High know everything?”
12 Look at them—the wicked! They are always at ease, and they increase their wealth.
In verse 1 we saw that God is good to the pure in heart. These next verses speak of the foolish or arrogant. “The fool says in his heart (there’s the Head stewardess again) there is no God.” Ps 14:1. Verses 4-12 showcase the temptations that our soul, the Head Stewardess, deems as good or prosperous. It is certainly not God, but
- lifelong ease;
- appetites satiated to a point of obesity;
- increasing wealth;
- ability to avoid or slip out of trouble and affliction;
- uncontrolled imaginations;
- abuse of power (corruption, mockery, proud threats, violence); and
- despising God (remember this can range from mild disregard to outward hatred.)
13 Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?
14 For I am afflicted all day long and punished every morning.
The greatest factor in these matters is time. The fool’s prosperity is very real but very temporary. Pr. 23:5 teaches, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” Then he is left naked and poor, at the mercy of a God that he spurned.
No, believer, it was not for nothing you deprived and disciplined and trained your heart to be pure and godly. You did it though you endured jeers, hardship, and persecution. Such is the lot of “your people”, as we read in the Hall of Faith:
“Some men were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection, and others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.”Heb 11:35b-38
Indeed, your God is so good that he even takes these adversities and turns them into the currency for your glory. Eternal glory!
15 If I had decided to say these things aloud, I would have betrayed Your people.
16 When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless
17 until I entered God’s sanctuary. Then I understood their destiny.
The first enemy is the time factor. Suffering can seem too long to endure, especially when lavish lifestyles are flaunted in your face in temptation. The second enemy is lack of understanding. V. 16 outlines the ‘intellect’ aspect of the heart/soul merger. KJV describes it as, “When I thought to know this…” Unpacking those few words exposes a jam-packed suitcase of cognitive processes – planning, judgement, inventing, esteeming, counting, imagining or conceiving, accounting/reckoning, considering, exploring, purposing, perceiving, distinguishing, discerning, recognizing, knowing, discovering, and many more.
These concepts feed our hope. If they are driven by the soul, we are soulish and cannot defer the gratification. We don’t understand that the temptation is to trade our future glory for this temporal glory. This is much like Esau trading this birthright for a bowl of pottage because he was hungry – now. It is like shopping for family heirlooms at the Dollar Tree. We must submit our hearts/souls to the Holy Spirit and his plans, his purposes, his discernment, his perception, his judgements on matters, etc. Therein is our hope.
Asaph’s hope was resuscitated in the sanctuary, the gathering place of God and his people. What benefits await us there! There we worship and pray in community and our souls are taught to submit to the Spirit; there the Word is expounded and we gain knowledge of the glory that awaits and how to endure in the meantime; there sin is exposed and dealt with and we see God’s heart towards it. There we understand our identity as a family, as children of God, as the adored bride of Christ.
We must learn to be discreet about voicing our hopelessness. It is virulent. We can train our brains to derive satisfaction from negativity. That is a betrayal to our legacy and calling. We must fight that. Like Asaph, keep that under wraps and ask God and maybe a trusted few to counsel you out of it.
18 Indeed, You put them in slippery places; You make them fall into ruin.
19 How suddenly they become a desolation! They come to an end, swept away by terrors.
20 Like one waking from a dream, Lord, when arising, You will despise their image.
21 When I became embittered and my innermost being [heart/soul] was wounded,
22 I was stupid and didn’t understand; I was an unthinking animal toward You.
23 Yet I am always with You; You hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me up in glory. [hope]
25 Who do I have in heaven but You? And I desire nothing on earth but You.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.
27 Those far from You will certainly perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You.
28 But as for me, God’s presence is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge,
so I can tell about all You do.
What a glorious awakening! This world has nothing for me, and this world has “everything.” But the “everything” is cheap imitations from China. They are meant to tantalize and distract us from our true wealth and inheritance. In the meantime, we have untold wealth in walking with God. Incredible intimacy is ours as we walk hand in hand like lovers. He is Emanuel, God with us. Always with us. He guards and guides us and delights in us as he leads us safely home by his grace. He is the epicenter of our desires, the embodiment of our will, the epitome of our intellect, the fountain of our emotions. He is our all in all. “All my fountains are in you,” Ps. 87:7.
Tell someone about it!
Let’s not buy our family heirlooms at Dollar Tree.hannah tk