This post is longer than usual, but rather than try to break it up over 2 days I will let you decide how you want to break it up or just consider it over the weekend.
I speak often of the need to know God’s Word, to study God’s Word, to obey God’s Word. God, in His mercy has revealed Himself to us through His Word. God’s Word not only tells us the truth about God, but also the truth about ourselves.
So, those who know God’s Word never struggle with having a godly perspective? Don’t I wish . . . The truth is that our hearts are wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah 17) and we must depend on the Holy Spirit to teach us and counsel us. The apostle John even reminds us that if we think we have no problem with sin we are deceiving ourselves (1 John 1).
The psalms of Asaph are a helpful study in gaining godly perspective.
convener, or collector. (1.) A Levite; one of the leaders of David’s choir (1Ch 6:39). Psalms 50 and 73-83 inclusive are attributed to him. He is mentioned along with David as skilled in music, and a “seer” (2Ch 29:30). The “sons of Asaph,” mentioned in 1Ch 25:1, 2Ch 20:14, and Ezr 2:41, were his descendants, or more probably a class of poets or singers who recognized him as their master.Easton’s Bible Dictionary
Asaph knew God’s Word. He was not ignorant of God’s ways.
Psalm 73:1-3 ESV - A Psalm of Asaph. 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.
Asaph is reflecting on a time of crisis in gaining godly perspective. Where does he say he first “almost stumbled?”
He was envious of the arrogant
He saw that the wicked seemed to prosper
In verses 4-11 Asaph identifies the ways in which the wicked seemed to prosper. Asaph is making his judgment based on what he sees. Then, he makes a conclusion:
Psalm 73:12-14 ESV - 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.
What good is it to follow God? The wicked seem to be doing fine; their consciences don’t seem to bother them. Meanwhile, I try so hard to do the right thing and every time I fail my conscience reminds me that I have not obeyed God.
Psalm 73:15-17 ESV - 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.
Here is where we see Asaph turn the corner (remember, his feet had almost slipped). He knew what his heart was telling him was not true. He still didn’t think that thinking any differently would make a difference until . . .
until he went into the sanctuary of God . . . .until he went back to God’s Word to discern what is true rather than depend on his eyes and his feelings. In verses 18-20 Asaph understands that the wicked are not “getting away with murder” in any fashion. God is not ignoring them. God is Sovereign. He will judge on His timetable and in His way.
And then Asaph describes his journey from “almost slipped” to “discerned their end” —
Psalm 73:21-26 ESV - 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 of my heart and my portion forever.
Life is not fair. I become envious of the healthy. They go about freely, driving where they want, shopping as long as they want; chopping vegetables and cooking a meal with no rest periods. They can read as long as they want with no eye strain. They do not battle fatigue and chest pain while walking to the mailbox or while trying to sit up and have conversation for more than an hour.
I can get myself into a regular spiritual temper tantrum. Bitterness is ugly, brute beast ugly. It causes the one who is bitter to make no sense. It’s not logical. It doesn’t listen to reason (ever tried ‘reasoning’ with a toddler in the midst of a tantrum?)
But look where God is THE ENTIRE TIME (before, during, after the ‘tantrum’ (i.e. crisis of perspective) —
with me continually
holding my hand (not you go off in the corner and be bitter and when you have gotten yourself right I will be with you again)
guiding me, reminding me of His Word, reassuring me that this unfair life is not my eternal life
And then comes the right perspective (and one of the reasons this is one of my most favorite passages in the whole Bible)
I cannot depend on myself to choose right thinking. I am desperate for God to redeem my thoughts. God will never leave me. Because of His great mercy I can repent of my sin and I can be assured of His forgiveness
1 John 1:9 ESV – 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
My flesh and my heart will fail (so will yours). We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 4 that we are in fragile vessels. But God is the protector and defender of my heart — my will, mind, emotions — and will never change His mind and “un-choose” me.
Actually, this next verse, Asaph’s settled-ness into the truth, is a major reason I write . . .
Psalm 73:28 ESV – 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.
God is my strong and constant refuge. He will never leave me. He has changed my mind and my heart and my will, and when I start to stumble and sink into fear or envy or self-pity, He holds my hand and counsels me according to His Word.
Praise His Name!
Prayer for the Persecuted Church–OpenDoorsUSA
Day 6: Pray specifically for those caught under the rule
of extremist groups. Ask God to grant abundant grace.
Day 7: Pray for the salvation of these groups. With God,
all things are possible
Daily Wisdom Psalm 27, 57, 87, 117, 147 Proverbs 27 Psalm 28, 58, 88, 118, 148 Proverbs 28