Our reading today concludes Book 2 of Psalms and enters Book 3, of which Psalm 73 is the beginning. Here we focus on the psalms “of Asaph.” Psalm 73 is a wonderful reminder for us today who struggle with the same fault that the psalmist admits: envy over the unrighteous.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;Psalm 73:2-3 NIV
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For i envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
This is a big theme throughout the Proverbs especially, but also in Psalms. “Ill-gotten gain” is condemned repeatedly, and yet we still admire seeing wealth on display, no matter how it’s gotten, for some reason. We are drawn to the illusion of wealth and luxury, that it will somehow fix our problems. In reality, it amplifies our problems.
But back to the main point, we think about money so much, and yet we don’t think about money as much as we should. Dr. Jenn Hale Christy had a very thought provoking podcast on this topic recently where she asked us to consider what we’re actually doing with our money. We blindly throw our money into investment accounts, but do we actually know what we are investing in? Is our retirement savings coming to us through “ill-gotten gains?”
The psalmist talks about all the present-moment advantages that these wicked people seem to have: no struggles, healthy, easy life. But when we renew our focus on God we begin to see things clearly. The illusion of the wicked lifestyle begins to fall.
When I tried to understand all this,Psalm 73:16-17 NIV
it troubled me deeply
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
This is one of the many reasons why worship is so important. When we worship God it recalibrates our hearts to follow him. In his excellent book, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, James K. A. Smith reminds us that the entire world is a liturgy; everything we do is worship of something, and forms us into the image of that something. Gathering with believers in worship of our God refocuses and reshapes us into who he wants us to be. He is the one who loves. He is the one who guides. He is the one who saves.
Yet I am always with you;Psalm 73:23-26 NIV
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
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.