Thesis: God's people need to be reminded that tough times do not last.
1. Everyone has a bad day.
I. OPENING AFFIRMATION (v. 1): "God is good!" We agree with that, but find it hard to declare at certain times of life.
II. THE PROBLEM (vv. 2-3): Feet almost slipped ("nearly lost it") due to envy of wicked who had it good. When bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people there is a tension that needs to be resolved. Relieving that tension is what this psalm is all about!
III. WHAT THE WICKED ARE LIKE (vv. 4-11): They work out at Fitness University, don't have a single gram of fat on their bodies, cholestrol, blood pressure is excellent, they will live to be 120! (v. 4); They don't have kids (Ha!)--they don't have normal, day to day struggles the rest of us have (v. 5); Verse 7--"eyes bulge with fat" (NIV footnote): have smug, self-satisfied look.
IV. SUMMARY OF WHAT THE WICKED ARE LIKE (v. 12).
V. IS IT WORTH IT? (vv. 13-16): "Heart/hands" (v. 13) = actions & thoughts; Verse 15 means: I couldn't talk to others about it because it would have done more harm than good; I couldn't keep it in either because I would have exploded!" As next verse indicates, Asaph took it to God!
VI. THE TURNING POINT (v. 17): Worshipping the unchangeable God caused Asaph to realize "this too shall pass." Here Asaph changes from a "snapshot" perspective of life, which in any given frame may be good/bad to a "video" perspective which is much broader. It helps him get a grip!
VII. WHAT THE WICKED ARE REALLY LIKE (vv. 18-20): Note 18a--with the long-term perspective, look who is on slippery ground! (cf. v. 2)
VIII. ASAPH CONFESSES HIS SHORT-SIGHTEDNESS (vv. 21-22): "When my heart grieved, spirit embittered"--when was that? Up to verse 17!!! "Senseless and ignorant before you"--just like an animal! Sociologists tell us that one of the distinguishing characteristics (humanly speaking) between people and animals is that people can envision the future--animals can't! They are conditioned upon the past.
IX. RECOGNITION OF GOD'S HELP IN PRESENT (vv. 23-28): "I'm sticking with you God, no matter how bad it may look at any given moment. I'm in this thing for the long haul!"
Conclusion: When things look bad, Asaph invites us to take a more comprehensive view of life. When we do, we can join with him in affirming that "Surely God is good!" (v. 1).