Summary: STICK CLOSE TO GOD AND BITTERNESS WON’T STICK TO YOU
STICK CLOSE TO GOD AND BITTERNESS WON’T STICK TO YOU
Bitterness is a tough enemy to get rid of. The more you give it a foothold, the more it festers and grows and contaminates your whole being.
I. HOW DOES BITTERNESS WORM ITS WAY DEEP INTO OUR HEART?
A. (:1-2) WE FORGET THE GOODNESS OF GOD TO US PERSONALLY
"Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart!"
"These are the true Israel, not the ceremonially clean but the really so; those who are clean in the inward parts, pure in the vital mainspring of action. To
such he is, and must be, goodness itself." Spurgeon
We need to guard the heart, for out of it are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23).
Remember that it is not what enters into the mouth that defiles a man, but rather that which proceeds out of the heart of man (including envy) (Mark 7:18-23).
We think that our stumbling and backsliding has somehow separated us from the Goodness of God. We lose sight of God’s Grace.
Meditate on the Goodness of God; Requires Faith
B. (:3-9) WE ENVY THE APPARENT EASY LIFE OF THE WICKED
Contrast: "The Few, the Proud, the Marines"
Here we have: "The Proud, the Prosperous, the Painless, the Plump"
1. The Proud
"the arrogant "
"pride is their necklace" -- they should be ashamed, but instead they glory in their pride
Pride leads to violence and oppression:
"the garment of violence covers them"
"they mock and wickedly speak of oppression"
"they speak from on high"
No accountability; no fear of God:
"they have set their mouth against the heavens"
"their tongue parades through the earth"
2. The Prosperous
"the prosperity of the wicked" -- everything seems to go their way
they don’t seem "to be in trouble as other men"
"Nor are they plagued like mankind"
"he ploughs least, and yet has the most fodder" -- Spurgeon
3. The Painless
"there are no pains in their death"
they not only have it easy in life, they have a nice easy, comfortable death
4. The Plump
"their body is fat"
"their eye bulges from fatness"
"the imaginations of their heart run riot "
no check on their appetites
"their very greediness is exceeded" -- Spurgeon
C. (:10-14) WE QUESTION THE VALUE OF TRYING TO LIVE A GODLY LIFE
Our Christian world view comes under attack
1. We Drown Ourselves in Self-Pity (:10)
(vs. 10 is a puzzle: does it refer to the people of God or to the wicked? Seems best to
refer it to the people of God)
2. We become Near-Sighted (opening the door to the temporal perspective of the wicked) (:11)
Will God hold people accountable?
How does God know who is living godly or wickedly?
"Is there knowledge with the Most High?"
Must maintain an eternal perspective
3. We become Materialistic -- envying the apparent prosperity of the wicked (:12)
4. We become Works-Oriented (:13) Key verse for this section:
"Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure,
And washed my hands in innocence"
5. We despise the Discipline of the Lord (:14)
II. (:15-24) HOW CAN GOD CHANGE OUR PERSPECTIVE SO THAT WE STOP FEEDING THE ROOT OF BITTERNESS?
A. (:15) Protecting us from Apostasy
Asaph comes close to spreading bitterness among God’s people
it is not always wise to say what you are thinking; we need to consider the impact of our words on other people -- especially our brothers and sisters in
we need to keep a check on our tongue (James 4)
B. (:16) Protecting us from Despair
"When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight"
C. (:17) Providing us with an Eternal Perspective (Key verse for the psalm; the turning point)
1. Obtained within a context of worship and devotion
"Until I came into the sanctuary of God"
cf. Wildlife sanctuaries -- place of safety and protection
2. Shows us the Final Destiny of the Wicked
"then I perceived their end"
D. (:18-20) Previewing for us the Destruction of the Wicked
1. Their present prosperity is Precarious (:18)
- God has set them there (they can’t even take credit for their prosperity)
- Slippery places (God set them there for destruction, not for blessing)
- God will cast them down to destruction
2. Their destruction will be sudden, complete, and terrifying (:19)
3. The Wrath of God will Awake and blow them away (:20)
"Let them flaunt their little hour, poor unsubstantial sons of dreams; they will soon be gone; when the day breaketh, and the Lord awakes as a mighty man out of his sleep, they will vanish away. Who cares for the
wealth of dreamland? Who indeed but fools? Lord, leave us not to the madness which covets unsubstantial wealth, and ever teach us thine own wisdom." -- Spurgeon