When Things Look Bleak

by Pastor Paul M. Sadler

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“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
—Psalm 73:1-3

This particular Psalm, along with eleven others, is ascribed to Asaph, a Levite who ministered as the chief musician at the temple. After many years of faithful service, Asaph began to waver in the faith. With a heavy heart he says, “My feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped.” Most believers can relate to this having experienced the same struggle in their own lives. In fact, it is an all too common problem.

Notice what the stumbling block was: Asaph became envious of the prosperity of the ungodly. He made the mistake of comparing his life with the lifestyle of the rich and famous. “They have more than the heart could wish” (vs. 7), everything had been handed to them on a silver platter. And what was even more disturbing to the Psalmist was they had obtained their ill-gotten gain through corruption and violence (vss. 6,8). Meanwhile, Asaph had labored day and night to barely make ends meet. He had compassion on the poor, but the wicked oppressed them seemingly with impunity. It just didn’t seem fair! As the old saying goes,
the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

The wicked in those days, as now, were not interested whatsoever in God and acted as though He really didn’t know or care (vs. 11). And to add insult to injury, the heavens were silent! The Psalmist, on the other hand, sought to live a righteous life only to find himself afflicted by the world and chastened of the Lord. This caused him to ponder, “Have I cleansed my heart in vain?” The more he dwelled on this, it was just too painful for him to bear. “Until!” Until what?

“Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places: Thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors” (Psa. 73:17-19).

Have you ever awakened from a nightmare and felt thankful it wasn’t real? For the ungodly the nightmare described here is very real. The Psalmist’s “foot had almost slipped,” but he was spared by God’s grace and mercy in salvation; but the slippery slope the ungodly will find themselves on ends in terror. When things look bleak—Remember Psalm 73!

To the Reader:

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