Daily Family Worship

Psalm 73: The Doubter’s Psalm

by | May 20, 2024

psalm 73

The 73rd Psalm is a very striking record of the mental struggle which a particular child of God underwent when he contemplated the respective conditions of the righteous and the wicked in this life. Fresh from the conflict, he somewhat abruptly opens the Psalm with a confident enunciation of the truth which had given him victory over his doubt: “God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart!” And then he tells us of the nearly-fatal shock which his faith had received when he contrasted the prosperity of the wicked and the adversity that the righteous often experience. The unrighteous proudly condemn God and man, and yet they seem to prosper and increase in worldly riches. And in contrast, Asaph thought of how he had cleansed his heart and washed his hands in innocence; and yet he had been “plagued all the day long and chastened every morning” (verses 13-14). 

Foolish and wicked people often seem to have a great share of outward prosperity. They seem to have the least share of the troubles of this life, and they seem to have the greatest share of its comforts. They live without the fear of God, and yet they prosper and get on very well in this world. And yet at the same time, we behold many Godly persons who hardly know what good health is, and who die with great sufferings. Often the wicked are not frightened by the remembrance of their sins, nor by the prospect of their misery; they die without terror. One of their most fearful characteristics (verse 9) is that “they set their mouth against the heavens.” Against God Himself, they aim their blasphemies. Yet they would do well to leave Him alone, for their pride will make them enemies enough without their defying Him. But as if that was not bad enough, “their tongue” also “walketh through the earth.” Leisurely and habitually, they traverse the whole world to find victims for their slander and abuse. Their tongue prowls in every corner far and near, and spares none. They try to be universal censors; but in truth, they are universal nuisances. Like the serpent, they go nowhere without leaving their slime behind them; if there was another Eden to be found, its innocence and beauty would not preserve it from their filthy trail. They themselves are worthy of all honor, beyond measure; and all the rest of mankind are knaves, fools, hypocrites, or worse. When these persons’ tongues are out for a walk, all who meet them are unhappy indeed; but unfortunately, it is impossible to entirely avoid them – for in both hemispheres, they take their perambulations; and on both land and sea, they make their voyages. The city is not free from them, and the country village swarms with them. Their whip has a long lash, and reaches both high and low.

As Asaph witnessed all of this in the world around him, his conscience wavered for a moment. He even began to wonder if there was any advantage at all to devoting one’s life and service to the Lord, since it apparently brought no earthly benefit – at least, not all of the time (verses 13-14). So how is it that he did not fall into the abyss? How were his doubts removed? How was his tottering faith re-established? He did believe in God; however, like a ship swinging at anchor, he swayed back and forth by the ebb and the flow of the tide – but he did not drift from his moorings! A vast change was worked in his heart and on his perspective on life and all that was going on around him. And this change was effected by his going into the house of God! This is the Divinely-appointed place where the Lord graciously answers those who are perplexed and pained, and who kneel down and humbly pray, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth!” It is here, in the sanctuary of the Lord, that we can see the relationship of this brief and broken life on earth to the wide and boundless Kingdom of the eternal, where everything will be made right at last! In that happy land, the sorrowful effects of sin will no longer be known. In that blissful Kingdom, the children of God shall no longer suffer from the abuses and hatred of the wicked. The Word of God promises us that there is a magnificent future – veiled, but certain – for which the present inequalities are the necessary and merciful preparation. You may be moving in the twilight now; but it is the morning twilight, which shall assuredly be followed by the glory of eternity – when all these tangled problems shall be smoothed out, and the confusing mess of things on this earth shall be made plain in the light of heaven. Therefore, let us pray for grace to wait calmly until the clouds roll by! Let us remember that our God is continually with us (verse 23); and let us never forget that even now, He is guiding us here on earth, until the time comes for Him to receive us into glory (verse 24).

Lord Jehovah, we thank You for continually keeping Your presence with us, and for guiding us with Your right hand. We praise You as the One Who is truly the strength of our heart, both now and forevermore! Amen.

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