SELECTED PSALMS – Psalm 73 (part 2)

When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. – Psalm 73:16,17

How deeply satisfying it is to come to an understanding. To now see clearly what I could not before. My troubled mind and stirred up feelings. My downcast spirit that caused me to question my faith in Christ and all my ‘efforts’ in maintaining ‘Purity of heart’. Oh to find resolve. This has been the Psalmist’s journey that he readily describes to us and for us. We enter part 2 of this journey: from conflict to resolve.

I think it fair to say that it is nigh impossible to avoid every ‘Conflict of thought’. To enter doubt in what we have believed to be true. To envy others. To feel sorry for myself as I compare with others. Wanting something ‘better’ than I have and I think I deserve. Yet as a Christian of some years, to speak of such to others there might be a sense of shame to admit this and so I don’t talk of it. After all, I don’t exist as an island, there are those close to whom I may well disappoint and confuse. This seems to be the place the Psalmist found himself. His problem was: “For I envied the arrogant when I say the prosperity of the wicked” v3. So his thinking drifted: “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure….” v13. Here is a person also evidencing strength of character: “If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children.” v15. O what a miserable place the Psalmist found himself and with no answer. What do I do?

Verse 17 marks the turning point, and surely God is present with us and for us in such times. Nothing is mentioned on why the Psalmist entered the sanctuary of God. Perhaps it was simply his regular activity at a regular time. Regardless, it was here in this place and at this time that God spoke and he ‘Found’ his answer. How deeply satisfying it was. How marvellous it is when God enters our space in such an unexpected manner. How his demeanour changes. A light globe moment! “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply…..then I understood their (the wicked) final destiny.” v 16-17. The uselessness of envying the wicked. The final word to and about the ‘wicked’ is clearly stated.

It would be a mistake to think that entering a Church building is the only place to encounter or meet with God. But I for one, remain humbled, on the many occasions I have gone to Sunday service in an ‘Ordinary manner’ and left with a word from God I was not expecting.  With this renewed understanding the fog has lifted for our Psalmist. He now looks back on himself and says with renewed insight, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” v21-22

As he now stood before God it was not only a sense of joy he experienced but also a moment to see his failure and the need to acknowledge this. An act of repentance. Confession becomes evidence of wayward thinking as such. Wayward thinking was in the final analysis, wrong thinking. Such wholeheartedness becomes our own response to the grace we receive. Our repentance is appropriate and sets our feet on a right relationship with our God. To receive Christ, as it has been said on a number of occasions, is to receive life. To find ourselves envying the worldly person- their prosperity, their lifestyle, their health or possessions, their… Is not the life Jesus gives.

Verses 27-28 offer up a final comparison but it is in verses 23-26 which offer us a most worthy place to be found as we live our day to day and co-habitat with the rest of Mankind. A perfect contentment. “…Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

The Psalmist speaking for us. How may this lead you into prayer today? Perhaps repentance and confession may also find a place…

(Written by Kevin Carlson)

HYMN: Jesus I am resting, resting sung by Marshall Hall.

v 3- “Simply trusting thee, Lord Jesus, I behold thee as thou art,
And thy love, so pure, so changeless, satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings, meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings: Thine is love indeed.”