Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 73

On this first Sunday in May we turn together to Psalm 73 for our guide in preparing to worship our Triune God and Father through Jesus Christ today. Psalm 73 begins the 3rd book of the OT Psalter (Pss.73-89) and is a song of Asaph. Asaph was a Levite appointed by David to lead the service of praise (worship leader) in the tabernacle and later the temple (cf. I Chron.16:5; 2 Chron5:12). From the powerful and personal words of this psalm we can understand why God inspired him to write this particular song. In His sovereign providence and grace God had led Asaph into a dark pit of near despair concerning God’s dealings with the wicked and the righteous (2-16). Why is the life of the child of God so hard and that of the wicked so easy? Why do the righteous suffer so often and so severely, while the wicked seem to have the “good life” (prosperous, problem-free, etc.)?

But then in the very context of his work in the house of God (v.17), Asaph was led to see the purpose of God in His ways with the wicked and the righteous. Out of his own painful experience he came to confess the goodness of God toward His people (v.1), as well as the comforting presence and promise of God in all the difficult days of the believer in this life (vss.23-28). And if this is so, then “it is good for me to draw near to God” (v.28a). Asaph came to understand that worship of the Lord was the answer to his problem and the response to the answer God gave him through that worship. God is worthy to be praised for all His ways!

Have you had a similar struggle in your heart and soul over God’s dealings with you? Have you well-nigh despaired of life and of being a child of God? Have you wondered, “What’s the point of being a Christian if this is the way God treats me?” Have you ever thought about returning to unbelief and wickedness, since the wicked seem to have it made and get away with it? Read Psalm 73 slowly and carefully.  Then go into the “sanctuary of God” to worship the very One you think has forsaken you and hurt you. There, in His presence and through His Word, you will learn the truth of the matter. Go, and get near to God, and be assured of what He is to you – and of what He is to the wicked. He truly is good to Israel – and to you! You are not forsaken but continually with Him. As you are always in His heart of love, so has He taken you by the hand in this life. Instead of the pointless life you may think you are leading, see that God is guiding you by His sovereign counsel, preparing you for a life of endless glory before Him. And then say with Asaph, “Whom have I in heaven but thee?” And with that godly desire and confession in your heart, worship this great God of your salvation! Thank and praise Him for His amazing grace to you, and for all His perfect ways with you! Draw near to Him, and declare all His works!

Here is the song of Asaph and the Word of God for us to read and on which to meditate:

Psalm 73

Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. 2But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 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. 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. 10Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. 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. 13Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. 15If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. 16When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; 17Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. 18Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. 19How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. 20As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. 21Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. 22So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. 23Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. 24Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. 25Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 27For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 28But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.

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