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"But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end."

~ Psalm 73:16-17


This psalm of Asaph begins Book Three (Psalm 73-89) within the Book of Psalms.  Asaph is also the author of the next ten psalms.  This Book in the Psalter is a collection of “darker” psalms, full of lament and devastation, lacking trust and hope, and expressing fear, anxiety and uncertainty.  Many of the psalms are corporate in their expression.

Psalm 73 is an individual confession of Asaph, demonstrating the pervasiveness, power and prison of deceit and falsehood.  The mere appearance of and human assessment of the world around us leads to false assumptions and conclusions.  This then leads us to despair and apostasy; the abandonment of faith and trust in God.

Asaph confesses that he had struggled, “stumbled…slipped” (v.2), that he had been envious (v.3), that he saw his life of faithfulness as vanity (v.13).  For he had looked at “the wicked” (v.3,12) and saw their worldly temporal prosperity (v.3-12).  He saw what appeared to be, or what he concluded was, a pain-free life (v.4-5), full of health, pleasure and abundance (v.4,7,12), and marked by confident independence, freedom and influence (v.6,8-11).

Despite rightly noting that this made these people arrogant (v.3), proud (v.6), malicious oppressive scoffers (v.8-9), and haters of God (v.10-11), Asaph was desirous of their life!  He compared it to his own experience and thought “the grass was greener on the other side”.  He despaired and lamented and had pity on himself (v.13-14).  He wallowed in the realization that he could not even contemplate and understand this reality (v.16).  Until…

…Asaph humbly submitted himself before the LORD.  He “went into the sanctuary of God” (v.17), genuinely seeking to hear from God, learn from him and rest in truth.  Then it was that he gained understanding; then it was that his view was not just temporal but eternal (v.17).  God reset the orientation of his heart to see the imminent, certain and sudden destruction of those who set themselves against God in arrogance, ignorance and unfaithfulness (v.18-19,27).  God cleared Asaph’s vision to see the strength and portion and glory and counsel and refuge of the LORD for those who are near to him.  His desires were repented, turned 180 degrees.

Be on guard, good Christian!  Do not let the deception of sin and falsehood, from your flesh or the world or the evil one, corrupt your faith in God.  Return to the sanctuary of God for discernment when you stumble and slip.  We need his presence, his people, his promises.  The world will have its day now, but that is all.  The faithful ones will have their day for eternity.  If you die without Christ as your Savior, this world is your heaven, it only gets worse after death.  If you do have Christ as your Savior, this life is your hell, it only gets better after death.