Psalm 73Psalm of Asaph.
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1 Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
5 They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
7 Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
8 They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
9 They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
10 Therefore his people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them. [the waters of a full cup are drained by them]
11 And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12 Behold, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
16 But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
20 Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
21 When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength [rock] of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.
It's good to be King. One wouldn't be weary with jealousy. No, this Psalm isn't written by David or Solomon. This is Asaph, a friend of David's appointed to many tasks within his government.
Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brothers.
So David left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister regularly before the ark as each day required
1 Chronicles 26:1
As for the divisions of the gatekeepers: of the Korahites, Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph.
Asaph knows envy gives strife daylong and it is wearisome. Bitterness is hard work. A bitter heart causes people to be brutal and unkind. He's honest - admitting these things.
The media reports we are increasingly becoming a two class economy. Bill Gates writes the largest problem this country faces (not unemployment) are college costs will cause us to become an indentured society to debt - he suggests if we are Republican or Democrat we find a solution to our country's need for education without financial ruin. Why aren't we addressing it - embarrassment to admit need at a personal level. Unless in a crowded auditorium of parents and students seeking financial aid. In my area - we are called a bubble for being a place for safety and prosperity - our High School college placement Counselor said in our affluent area, children will take upon themselves an average debt of $110,000 in 2007 ($600 per month for 30 years) for their own education. It makes sense - very few people have a small house just given to them. (I wonder about households with two people getting married with this type of debt - all of this before a mortgage.)
I graduated from Texas A&M University in 4.5 years. The total cost to my family was $12,500. That doesn't quite pay for a semester 25 years later. Why the increase? We were told college costs would rise like this 20 years ago - the government quit subsidizing college costs. Not subsidizing anything else, just college costs. Who benefits from the debt now being racked up for college costs? This is the first year college debt is greater than all the credit card debt. Where are we headed?
The United States now ranks 12th among the 36 developed countries in comparing college completion rates, according to a recent New York Times article, “Once a Leader, U.S. Lags in College Degrees,” which reports on the College Board's current findings. Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board stated, “The growing education deficit is no less a threat to our nation's long-term well-being than the current fiscal crisis.”
According to the Times: “While almost 70 percent of high school graduates in the United States enroll in college within two years of graduating, only about 57 percent of students who enroll in a bachelor's degree program graduate within six years, and fewer than 25 percent of students who begin at a community college graduate with an associate's degree within three years.”
Society, movies, our parents teach us to live as if the glass is Fullllll.
How does Asaph deal with these feelings? Gratitude. He will not allow himself to stay in bitterness. He will be near God. What are things God requires of us? Honesty. Asaph is honest in this Psalm. He will not pretend to be what he is not. In Christ Jesus, we have the honesty and integrity to step out behind our masks and give our troubles to the Lord. In His time, in His wisdom, God helps us in this life and the next.
Bitterness and fake full glass mentality are the alternative, leading to the loss of our joy and the fulfilling worship of God. If we are centered on self, we cannot experience the joy in the Lord.
Asaph instead chooses to be near to the Lord.
Father God, You are the rock higher than we are. Help us draw near to You when we feel bitterness or envy. Let us remember again, the joy of knowing how well You understand and know us as we really are. Help us feel safe in the shelter of Your arms knowing You are the God Almighty. Let us rejoice in Your plans for our lives and hope in You. We ask You for a solution, in Your wisdom, to the ever increasing cost of education and ask a blessing upon the leaders of government. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.