PSALM 73

This psalm was written by Asaph, the great singer and musician of David and Solomon's era. This wonderful psalm may be best understood by the dominant pronouns within. When Asaph is troubled by the fate of the ungodly (Psalm 73:1-12), the dominant pronoun is they. When he describes his own frustrated thinking leading to the resolution (Psalm 73:13-17), the dominant pronoun is I. When he finds resolution of the problem (Psalm 73:18-22), the dominant pronoun is You, in the sense of God. When he proclaims the assurance of his faith and fellowship with God (Psalm 73:23-28), the dominant pronouns are a mixture of You and I.

The fundamental question underlying Psalm 73 is, "How can a good God allow the righteous to suffer?" This question has puzzled Christians and pleased skeptics over the centuries. The suffering of Chtristians and the prosperity of the wicked is an issue which is frequently addressed in the Word of God. For example, the Book of Job deal explicitly with this issue. Many Christians today seem to think that faith in God comes with a guarantee of freedom from adversity. When they come to the realization that this is not so, their faith is often severely shaken.

Anyone who wishes to think that God's people have the right to expect a trouble-free life of ease and prosperity apparently read the Scriptures superficially and have an inadequate grasp of the process God uses to conform us to the image of His Son. Such theology can only be maintained by a selective reading of the Bible. Some choose to study only those passages which promise us the "good things" of life, but systematically ignore those which speak of suffering and trials. They convince themselves that a good God would never cause Christains any sorrow. That is not what the Bible teaches. "No suffering" is a doctrine which Satan himself originated and which he actively promotes in the world today. He suggested to Eve that a good God would never withhold such a pleasant and attractive thing as the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He was certain that Job would not serve God unless God continued to prosper him. He even had the audacity to suggest to the Lord Jesus that suffering was inappropriate for Him when he sought to tempt Him at the outset of His ministry (Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus responded that obedience is more important than personal satisfaction (Matthew 4:4) and that God alone must be worshipped, no matter how appealing immediate pleasure or success may seem (Matthew 4:10).

The unique contribution of Psalm 73 is that it deals with suffering not so much on the level of defending God as defining good. The question, "How can a good God allow the righteous to suffer?" reveals several fallacies in our thinking. The first is the assumption that suffering is always evil and therefore irreconcilable with God's goodness. The second is a failure to understand righteousness, so far as it relates to the saint, the true child of God. In answer to the problem of pain, this psalm forces us to take another look at our definition of good, lest we accuse God of being the author of evil by allowing us to suffer.

Asaph instructs us concerning the vital role which worship should play in our lives. Worship is bringing life before God and coming to view it as He does. Worship is seeing things as they are: God is good and faithful. Life on earth is fleeting. Thus we should praise God for all that He is and for all that He does, even when He brings suffering into our lives. Worship is vital because it renews the perspective of Christians, enables them to live in a world of suffering, praising God, obeying His word, and looking ahead to the fulfillment of all His promises.


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