Summary: The most important thing in life is to be near to God; if you have everything else but fail here, you have lost all. But if you have that, you have God’s companionship and blessing in this life and for all eternity.
Living in Light of Eternity: Replacing Bitterness with God’s Presence
1. A boy wanted to sell a puppy, but his “for sale” sign did little good. The puppy looked unkempt. A salesman urged him to clean up the dog, brush his hair, put a nice collar on him, etc. The next day he saw a sign that said, “Puppy for sale. $6,000.” He couldn’t believe his eyes, but when he returned home, the word “sold” was pasted over the sign.
2. The salesman stopped and asked him if he really sold the puppy for $6,000.
3. “Yes, I did,” said the boy. “I sold him for two $3,000 cats.”
4. Many of us have exchanged one thing for another – or, in this case, two others.
5. The Psalm of Asaph we are looking at today is about an exchange — an exchange of bitterness toward God for basking in the presence of God and His goodness.
6. In a sense, this psalm is a thematic hybrid between the Parable of the Rich Fool from Luke 12:13-21 and the experience of Job in the Book of Job (recount both)
7. Like Job, the psalmist could not understand how the comparatively righteous often suffered while the obviously unrighteous who flaunted their sinful behaviors seemed to have a VIP exemption card from life’s miseries.
Main Idea: The most important thing in life is to be near to God; if you have everything else but fail here, you have lost all. But if you have that, you have God’s companionship and blessing in this life and for all eternity.
I. The Psalmist became drunk with bitterness: “God allows me to suffer while the unrighteous PROSPER” (1-14).
A. He begins with his conclusion: God is GOOD to the pure in heart (1).
B. He arrived at this conclusion after a deep STRUGGLE (2).
C. He wrongly concluded that the unrighteous were BETTER off (3-5)
1. Such conclusions are often based upon LIMITED experience.
2. Their ARROGANCE called attention to their seeming exemption from misery.
3. They seem to get AWAY with everything, as though God did not see.
• Charles Spurgeon once said, “Those who deserve the hottest hell often have the warmest nest.”
• One gal blogged, “Today, I was so happy to be leaving the hospital after breaking my arm the night before. Just as I walked out of the doors, a huge ambulance team was running in at the same time and knocked me down full force. I now have a broken ankle.” Bad things happen sometimes.
D. He became SELF-FOCUSED, bitter, envious, and sour (13- 14)
• The Bible tells us that we are not exempt from all of life’s miseries.
Romans 8:23, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
1. He thought his faith was in VAIN
2. He thought his purity of heart was USELESS
3. He felt God gave him more than his share of TROUBLES
E. If we make ourselves the FOCUS of life, we are asking to be miserable.
II. The Psalmist SOBERED up when he embraced God’s PERSPECTIVE (15-28)
A. He realized how his self-absorbed approach would affect OTHERS (15)
B. When he focused upon God while in the Temple courts, he began to UNDERSTAND (16-17)
C. The unrighteousness are skidding down a waxed SLIDE (18-20)
D. He realized he had the one and most important thing that the unrighteous did not have: being NEAR to God (21-27)
1. He turned away from his cynical, bitter ATTITUDE (21-22)
2. He appreciated God’s CONSTANT companionship (23)
3. He knew God was faithful in this life and the NEXT (24)
4. The Psalmist had the most important thing: GOD (25)
5. Our relationship to God is ETERNAL (26)
E. The CONTRAST between the godly and ungodly is huge (27-28)
Daniels 12:2, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Pastor Brian Bill tells us about the “…Smith family who was proud of their family tradition. Their ancestors had come to America on the Mayflower and included Senators and successful businessmen. This famous family decided to compile a family history so they hired an author to put everything together in a book. They ran into some trouble however, when they didn’t know how to handle a great-uncle who had been executed in the electric chair.
“The author told the family that he would take care of everything. When the book came out, this is what it said about this infamous relative: ‘Great uncle George occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution, was attached to his position by the strongest of ties and his death came as a real shock.’ “