Summary: In Psalms of Lament, there is a three-fold emphasis: I am hurting; You are not helping; They are winning. Psalm 73 focuses on the third statement of this three-fold pattern - “They are winning.”
SERMONIC / WORSHIP THEME
Opening Statement: It’s Thanksgiving Day and the aroma of roast turkey fills Charlie Brown’s house. Snoopy, outside, lying on top of his doghouse, smells that aroma, and he is thinking, “It’s Thanksgiving Day. Everybody eats turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” So he lies on top of his house, watching the back door, eagerly waiting for his Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, the door opens and here comes Charlie Brown with a bowl of dog food, and he puts it on the ground. Snoopy gets off his house and just stares at the dog food with a forlorn look on his face. And he thinks, “Just because I’m a dog, I have to eat dog food on Thanksgiving Day.” Then the next square of the comic strip shows him looking at the dog food more intently, only this time he is thinking, “It could be worse. I could be the turkey.”
Application: As you look around you this time of year, just remember along with Snoopy, you could be the turkey. Do not concern yourself with inner thoughts like “I have not been very blessed this year.” “I did not get as much as they got this year.” “Why can’t my ‘thanksgiving experience’ be like their ‘thanksgiving experience’?” Wait! Stop! Stand down for a moment! If you’re going that direction, you’re loosing perspective. Snoopy was discouraged because he compared his thanksgiving experience with everybody else’s thanksgiving experience and that’s where we, like Snoopy, go awry. Thanksgiving is a time when instead of looking down at our archetypal “bowl of dog food” in disgust or looking around at how everyone else is eating on this day; instead of these things, we look up to God and we say “Thank you God.”
Transition: Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to get perspective and perhaps the one book in the Bible that’s dedicated to gaining and maintaining a proper perspective is the Book of Psalms in general and the 73rd Psalm in particular.
Title: Getting Perspective from Psalm 73
Text: Psalm 73:1-28
Background: In Psalms of Lament, there is a three-fold emphasis: I am hurting; You are not helping; They are winning. Psalm 73 focuses on the third statement of this three-fold pattern - “They are winning.” Everybody else seems to be eating turkey and I’ve got this bowl of dog food. Even the “anti-God” people are doing better than I’m doing. Does a godly lifestyle really pay off? In the midst of the writers’ discouragement, he attended church, sanctuary, and there he regained perspective.
Key Word: There are two ASPECTS to this “they are winning” song. First, there’s life and perspective before going into the Sanctuary. Second, there’s life and perspective after going into the Sanctuary.
- Sermonic / Worship Theme Complete -
Opening Statement: Not long ago Missionary Veronica ``Roni’’ Bowers, 35, and her 7-month-old daughter, Charity, seated in her lap, were killed by a single bullet when a defense jet fired on the Cessna plane they were riding in. The Peruvian Air-force had shot at the plane because it mistakenly thought that it was carrying drugs and drug dealers. Bowers’ husband, Jim, 38, and their 6-year-old son, Cory, survived the attack without serious injury. The pilot, missionary Kevin Donaldson, 42, was seriously injured by gunfire to his legs, but was able to crash-land the plane in the Amazon. The Bower’s family had been faithful missionaries to the area for over a dozen years. It is hard to understand why things like this happen especially when you consider that in all likelihood many drug dealers and criminals flew that night without a problem. It makes you wonder: "If God Is Good, Why Is Life So Unfair?"
Transition: This question is not new. Asaph was a spiritual leader in his day who authored 12 worship Psalms. But he was a spiritual leader with some doubts and concerns. In this Psalm Asaph tells us that he had the same dilemma and the same questions about the goodness of God, the fairness of life, and the value of serving God that we often face. In isolation, his heart grew bitter and disoriented. But as he moved into new community, perspective returned.
Life and Perspective Before Entering the Sanctuary
73:1 Certainly God is good to Israel, and to those whose motives are pure!
Comment: That God is good is one of the basic principles of theology. This was Asaph’s creed. He had been taught well. But there’s a problem. Our head knows that He’s good but our experiences can cause us to question that goodness. A bowl of dog food on the ground is OK unless everyone else is eating turkey.
73:2 But as for me, my feet almost slipped, my feet almost slid out from under me.
Comment: As he began to question God’s justice, he came close to abandoning his faith.