Summary: A Psalm of Asaph
The Strength of My Heart
April 10, 2011
Have you ever looked at the ways of the world and been a little jealous? I mean, if you think about it, they’ve got a lot of nice things.
Sometimes it seems like the people who love God get the short end of the stick. But the Apostle Peter writes to us about this:
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless (II Peter 3:1-14).
The idea is that thing aren’t always going to be this way; righteousness will be shown to reign one day, and he encourages us to “be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets.”
So this morning I want to do just that. Let’s turn in out Bibles to Psalm 73:
Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.
This opening reveals just how Asaph really understands God. He’s good to the clean of heart. But Asaph didn’t always see things this way:
Asaph envied the prosperity of the world (:2-9)
2But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.
He looked around and he was tempted:
3For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
He sees that their bodies are healthy and that they don’t have the troubles other men have. They’re successful and comfortable.
6Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. 8They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 9They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.
They seem to do just whatever they want. They say things against God, but there’s no lightning to strike them dead. They mock religion and ridicule the religious.
Asaph was tempted to cast off religion (:10-16)
10Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.
God’s people see the injustice around them and they’re brought to tears.
11And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? 12Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
The godly can’t help but question whether God sees and knows about their plight. And so they wonder:
13Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
Maybe this whole thing is for nothing.