Summary: Message on the goodness of God declared b one who struggled with percieved evidence to the contrary.
“Is God Really that Good?”
Most everyone questions the goodness of God at some time in their life. One glance at our world and you either scratch your head or kick the cat. A drunk driver who lives to be a hundred cuts a promising young teenager’s life short. Inconsistencies slap us in the face nearly everyday. Those who completely deny God and His beloved Son Jesus prosper through dishonesty, abuse and intimidation. Followers of Jesus tell the truth and follow the rules yet suffer oppression and disregard. The phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” came about for a reason. The denier of Christ lies and cheats and seems to suffer no consequences for their action. Is there any real justice in the world today? We could recount illustration after illustration to cause serious doubt as to whether following Jesus is really worth the effort and self denial. Radio and TV preachers boldly broadcast the physical and financial benefits of following Jesus. They indicate that if you just follow God’s rules you will be guaranteed success in every area of life; i.e. good health, successful marriage, smart and successful children, plenty of money and creature comforts, lots of friends, freedom from suffering and pain. You just need to believe it and claim it. See it, believe it, receive it.
And of course demonstrate your faith by sending us a check or excuse me, a “love gift.”
Such teaching is unsustainable Biblically and practically. Just as Asaph discovered a few thousand years ago. Asaph was appointed as a chief musician during the time of David.
David made him the leader of choral worship. The sons of Asaph led worship music for many generations that followed. Psalm 50 and 73-83 are said to be written by him. He wrote a song about a time in his life with he struggled to reconcile the concept of a good God with what he encountered in the world around him and even in his own life. I suppose in today’s musical world we might call this a ballad. It is the composer’s emotional journey through a dark time in his life put to music. Having come into the light, Asaph decided to explicitly declare his conclusion at the beginning of the song and then show us how he got there. By the time we finish it will become abundantly clear why this Psalm has been classified as a wisdom Psalm.
I.The psalmist declared his theme -- God is good!
Surely God is good to Israel
Surely God is good to those who are pure in heart
“Pure in heart”. The “heart” for the Hebrews could refer to both mind and emotion.
It was a reference to the inner person, the soul, the core. A pure heart is one who follows God with pure motives and thoughts and undivided devotion. A pure heart follows God without question. A pure heart fully trusts God no matter what the circumstances around him may be. A pure heart is free of bitterness toward God. A pure heart serves God because of who He is not for what I can get from Him. God is “good.” Since this is the theme of this discussion it would be good to get an idea of what it means. It is a difficult term to get a handle on.
This root refers to “good” or “goodness” in its broadest senses. Five general areas of meaning can be noted: 1) practical, economic, or material good, 2) abstract goodness such as desirability, pleasantness, and beauty, 3) quality or expense, 4) moral goodness, and 5) technical philosophical good.(TWOT)
God’s ultimate plans for His followers is for our good.
’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ’plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
In spite of a most confident assertion (surely or most assuredly), the Psalmist did not always feel so sure about God’s goodness. The rest of the song details the story.
The Psalmist’s described his struggle
A. He described his cause for stumbling
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped. Psalm 73:2
Parallelism feet = steps
close = almost
stumbling = slipped
He as yet hadn’t fallen, but he was close. He was struggling to keep his attitude toward God straight. He had come dangerously close to completely abandoning his trust in God’s goodness and justice. He cam close to allowing circumstances to cloud his devotion and loyalty to God.
For I was envious of the arrogant. I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
He observed the arrogant prosperity of the wicked. The psalmist used a variety of terms through this Psalm to designate those he envied.
Wicked, arrogant, those far from you, unfaithful