Summary: We all face a variety of issues that threaten to make us stumble. Seeing the prosperity of the wicked caused the psalmist to question the goodness of God. But God squeezed his hand and reassured him that, given the judgment of God, the wicked do not reall
Opening illustration: One of the joys of being with kids is holding their hands. We do it to keep them safe while crossing the street, or to keep them from getting lost in a crowd. And whenever they stumble and lose their footing, we grab their little hands tighter to keep them from falling. That’s what God does for us. Inevitably there are stones and cracks that trip us up on the sidewalks of life. That’s why it’s easy to identify with the psalmist, who said, “My steps had nearly slipped” (Psalm 73: 2).
Let us catch up with the Psalmist and learn from his experience by turning to Psalm 73 …
Introduction: We all face a variety of issues that threaten to make us stumble. For the psalmist Asaph, seeing the prosperity of the wicked caused him to question the goodness of God. But God squeezed his hand and reassured him that, given the judgment of God, the wicked do not really prosper. True prosperity, the psalmist discovered, was found in the fact that God was always with him: “You hold me by my right hand” (v.23). And just for good measure, God reminded him that He would also guide him through life and ultimately welcome him home to heaven (v.24). And be his strength forever (v. 26). How good is that!
What do we learn as God hold’s our hand during trying times?
1. Amazing grace of God (v. 23) ~
This verse contains the two precious mercies of communion and upholding, and as they were both given to one who confessed himself a fool, we also may hope to enjoy them. I am kept by thee in the land of the living; I am permitted to abide in thy presence; I am allowed to hope in thy mercy. Notwithstanding my low and unworthy views, notwithstanding my doubts about the justice of the divine administration, notwithstanding my envy at the prosperity of the wicked, and my spirit of complaining against God, I am not driven away from God; I am not banished from his presence, or cut off from his favor. Well may we marvel when we reflect on our thoughts about God, that He has not risen in his anger, and banished us from his presence forever and ever.
There is a note of amazement there ~ amazement over the unfailing grace and faithfulness of God. It is as if Asaph is looking back over his life and saying, "I wouldn’t expect this; I would expect that if God were as I am He would have quit with me long ago. Yet, nevertheless, beyond expectation, and to my utter amazement, God did not forsake me. Despite my rebellion, despite my questioning, despite my discontent with the Lord’s way, I am continually with God." Or, as he says, "Thou art continually with me."
He is saying to us, "I understand now the amazing and unbelievable truth that God never forsakes His own, even when they are the least deserving of His favor. He was constantly and continually with me. I was far from Him; I was distrusting; I was murmuring, sulking, as a spoiled child. Yet, never once did God remove His faithfulness from me." In fact the psalmist says, it was very intimate. "He held me by my right hand." The picture is of a little child who is afraid and stubborn and intent on his own way, and of a patient father who holds that child by the hand and keeps that child ~ the idea of tenderness and strength and wisdom. "The almighty God never once left me. Look wherever I can at my life’s pathway; always He held me by my hand."
And that is amazing because we slip, we stumble, we fall. We spend so many of our days living as beasts. We think that the only things of value are the things of the earth. We doubt God and question His ways with us. Yet God always is faithful. He keeps us in all of our sorrows and fears. He keeps us before death and the grave. There is never a moment that He refuses to own us as His children. He takes us up in the arms of His covenant. Let that lesson flood our souls, the lesson of the amazing grace of God. God never forsakes His own.
This is as an instance of condescension, respect, and familiarity; see Acts 23: 19, as a parent takes his child by the hand, and learns it to go, so the Lord takes his children by the hand, and teaches them to walk by faith in him, Hosea 11: 3 or in order to keep them from falling, and bear them up under temptations and exercises; as well as to lead them into more intimate communion with himself in his sanctuary, and to raise them up out of their low estate to an exalted one; see Isaiah 45:1, and likewise to put something into their hands, to supply their wants, and fill them with his good things; see Ezekiel 16: 49.