Summary: Asaph started to regress toward bitterness because he struggled with over-reacting to the prosperity, pleasures and privileges of others. We all have to choose to become better or slip into bitterness, cynicism and negativity.
Getting Better or Bitter? (Psa. 73:1-28)
"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (Heb. 12:15)
Quote: " I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go" - ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Illustration: This missionary and his wife were on there way home from the mission field on this large ship. Also on this same ship was well known dignitary going home as well. When the ship docked the missionary couple watched as the dignitary was greeted with much music and a large group of people. After the commotion of the dignitary the missionary couple walked down the plank, totally unnoticed. The husband said to the wife, "It is not fair that this man gets all the recognition and he has not done anything for the Lord." The wife said to her husband, "But dear we are not home yet"
Asaph teaches us a great deal about the struggle between bitterness or betterment in Psalm 73.
Key Verses: "When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You uguide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psa. 73:21-26)
Illustration: Bitterness is simply an absence of the betterment we find in praising God. When we focus on what is what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, excellent, admirable, upright, and praise-worthy, we can fill our mind with that which makes us better thereby eliminating bitter thoughts. (Phil. 4:8)
Story: The college professor challenged the class with this question. "Did God make everything there is?"
One student bravely answered, "Yes!"
"Everything, young man?"
"Yes, he did, sir," the young man replied.
The professor responded, "If God made everything, then God made evil, and if we can only create from within ourselves, then God is evil."
The student didn’t have a response and the professor was happy to have once again proved the Christian faith to be a myth.
Then another man raised his hand and asked, "May I ask you something, sir?"
"Yes, you may," responded the professor. The young man stood up and said "Sir, is there such thing as cold?"
"Of course there is, what kind of a question is that? Haven’t you ever been cold?"
The young man replied, "Actually, sir, cold does not exist. What we consider to be cold, is really only the absence of heat. Absolute zero is when there is absolutely no heat, but cold does not really exist. We have only created that term to describe how we feel when heat is not there."
The young man continued, "Sir, is there such thing as dark?"
Once again, the professor responded "Of course there is."
And once again, the student replied. "Actually, sir, darkness does not exist. Darkness is really only the absence of light. Darkness is only a term man developed to describe what happens when there is no light present."
Finally, the young man asked, "Sir, is there such thing as evil?"
The professor responded, "Of course. We have rapes, and murders and violence everywhere in the world, those things are evil."
The student replied, "Actually, sir, evil does not exist. Evil is simply the absence of God. Evil is a term man developed to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. It isn’t like truth, or love, which exist as virtues like heat and light. Evil is simply the state where God is not present, like cold without heat or darkness without light."
The professor had nothing to say
1. Asaph was no slouch. He was a sucessful man of God. He wrote several sacred lyrics for worshipful songs found in 2 Chron 29:30. Not only did Asaph write Psalm 73, but also the next 10 in sucession as well as Psa. 50 are all attributed to him. Asaph was a musical man who was known as a choir director so he obviously had ability to help lead in worship music. He was used of God in many ways, but even he struggled with the temptation to give in to bitterness, anger and envy.
2. Asaph was used greatly by God as a prophet as we see in 2 Chron 29:30. We learn about Asaph as a man who was a seer or a visionary for his times. He was also a fruitful man in that his children walked with God. 1 Chron. 25:1 records that four of his sons participated in conducting the chorus that sung at the temple dedication.