Do you pursue deepening your relationship with God in prayer, reading scripture, listening to and worshiping God? He asked Jesus the right question, one Sheila Butler may have asked before as well: what shall I do to inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25)? In teaching this Israelite lawyer Jesus made it plain to His people they must prove to be neighbors to anyone and everyone (Luke 10:30-37); Sheila Butler, and those who taught her, have no justification to limit “neighbor” to their fellow Americans. Scripture: Psalm 73:12–28. I see in this an example for us. Those who would draw near to Him must sanctify Him and His name, and many have suffered and perished for not thus honoring God (e.g. It’s not hard to tell what’s in your heart. In Numbers 13:33 the Israelite spies of the fifteenth century BCE testified to the existence of the Anakim in the land of Canaan, described as the descendants of the Nephilim. Roman orators constantly appealed to their countrymen to return to the days of humble civic virtue embodied by Cincinnatus and others. Today Christians live in societies profoundly shaped or influenced by the cultures mentioned above; we may not honor their heroes, but the impulse to find men of some renown and to esteem them as larger than life remains. When you have doubt, bring it to God. The Israelite would have had little reason to envision his neighbors in a universal sense; everything in his upbringing and culture privileged his fellow Israelites. But the conversation did not end there. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. The Psalms begin with a wisdom psalm affirming the way things should be: the righteous prosper while the wicked fade away in transience (Psalm 1). Yet His sheep must endure the valley of the shadow of death and perhaps great trial; they must depend upon YHWH their Shepherd for all things and not presume to have gained anything through the unaided work of their own hands. Change requires identification, confession, and repentance. Her greatest fault is in speaking explicitly what is most often maintained implicitly, with coded language and an attempted bifurcation between certain political ideologies and spiritual realities. Psalm 23:1-6 is immensely comforting, but it can only be so for those who submit to YHWH as His sheep. And so he asked Jesus: who is my neighbor (Luke 10:29)? It takes a penetrating look into your soul. “You guide me with your counsel.” In this life God is near and guides him. The third book of the Psalms attempts to come to grips with the feeling that this is not always so (Psalm 73). Ancient Israelites were well-acquainted with these stories from these other cultures. Asaph has learned true wisdom: God is true wealth, because despite all the trials, tribulations, suffering, and righteousness necessary to be in relationship with God, God is the Certainty by which we can continue to live, our Sustainer and Redeemer whether we have much or little, health or illness, fame or infamy. Battling the Unbelief of Despondency. Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged desiring God, doubt, envy, faith struggle, prosperity of the wicked, Psalm 73, relationship with God, right desires | 1 Comment. He’s saying, “maybe it doesn’t matter how you live!” Here he has kept himself clean; he has walked in God’s ways, and unlike the wicked, he has been stricken and rebuked; he has suffered hard times. Psalm 73 is packed with good teaching, and that on several topics, including the question – “How can God allows the wicked to prosper?”. Psalm 73 talks about your relationship with Christ. Maybe God doesn’t know what’s going on down here on earth; or keep track of unrighteousness and injustice. Jesus chose the characters of His story deliberately: priests and Levites were to minister to the Israelites and should have known the Law and its expectations, and yet they did nothing, more concerned about their personal cleanliness than the welfare of a fellow member of the people of God, prioritizing the cleanliness code over displaying love and mercy. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: Thou hast holden my right hand. 7Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. I have a son with multiple severe disabilities. Asaph does not deny God’s goodness to Israel and those who are pure in heart (Psalm 73:1). We feel it is wiser to keep our distance. Notice how v. 13 directly contradicts his statement of faith in v. 1 – “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.” His heart is pure, but the wicked seem to get all the good things, while he suffers. Our culture and upbringing will give us reason to think it extreme to believe Jesus meant such things without qualification. We all have doubts and questions at times. Without a leader they wander aimlessly or stay paralyzed in one place. 6Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. The wicked do not have true wealth; what they have causes them great fear and apprehension. As a shepherd finds green pastures, calm streams, and good paths for the sheep for their sustenance and development, so YHWH has provided prosperity, peace, and the way of righteousness for David, restoring his soul (Psalm 23:2-3). Leviticus 19:18, Deuteronomy 6:5). Many wish to return to the virtues of a former age and in the process turn the past into a myth, magnifying what may have been good while suppressing what was less than pleasant. Leave vengeance to God. Weekly. He desired what they have. It’s a fundamental change of heart and desires within him. John put it mildly when he said Jews have no dealings with Samaritans (John 4:9). The psalm took center stage in the story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, too, in the black struggle against slavery, and you’ll soon see why. What is the end of the wicked that Asaph discerned? While the image of YHWH as shepherd might have come easily to David, having been a shepherd himself, the implications of the truth of such an image still requires a person to swallow a lot of pride and to exhibit humility. Can you say that you desire God above all else? In a strange sense they suffer because of their prosperity. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. The wicked will be judged. Explain to the children that as we know God more, we develop a heart of longing for Him. Christianity was never meant to be a civic religion; Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings, reigning over a transcendent Kingdom over all nation-states, and the exclusive property of none of them (Colossians 1:13, Philippians 3:20-21, Revelation 19:15-16). Give without expecting to receive in return. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Sarah Walton Jun 1, 2017 3.8K Shares Article. We humans easily fall prey to the pride of life, presuming a level of independence in understanding. We can therefore understand why Psalm 23:1-6 gets appropriated for funerals and other moments of difficulty, and yet the entire psalm is animated by its very first phrase: YHWH is my shepherd. For he that sings praise, not only praises, but only praises with gladness: he that sings praise, not only sings, but also loves him of whom he sings. Plenty of preachers and teachers will prove all too willing to provide those qualifications and to make fine distinctions, all of which are designed to justify themselves. It begins with him desiring the prosperity of the wicked. The Nephilim are spoken of in Genesis but remain shrouded in mystery. A deacon of a local Evangelical church drives by, sees them, but has to get his family to church on time; a pastor and his family drives by as well and likewise keeps going. There is justice with God. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. … No one, of course, and that is the same with us. May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. They are left with nothing; they are exposed as naked and helpless through calamity and disaster. In the grand scheme of things, yes, we are like sheep. Everything else takes second place to God. Pretentious with arrogance, they wear the latest fashions in violence, Pampered and overfed, decked out in silk bows of silliness. There was no escape. People are far better at teasing out the implications of the things that are taught than we would like to admit. In praise, there is the speaking forth of one confessing; in singing, the affection of one loving. The Egyptians considered the gods Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Horus to have once ruled the land, and every generation would recreate the story. But while he goes to stand before the presence of YHWH in the Temple he gains a critical insight (Psalm 73:17). Asaph sees their worst case scenario: they lose all their wealth and fall into ruin, and all that in but a moment (Psalm 73:18-19). The Washington Post published an article entitled “Judgment Days” by Stephanie McCrummen on July 21, 2018. God’s blessings do not compare with God Himself; let us declare, as Asaph did, that there is nothing on earth we desire besides God, and grow in faith accordingly! Follow John Piper on Twitter. Let’s jump right in. These are difficult commands, explicitly countercultural: turn the other cheek. We are to prove to be neighbors to anyone and everyone: we must give precedence to fellow Christians, yet must do good to all (Galatians 6:10). Your Emotions Matter to God Learning from the Bible’s Songbook. 28But 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. For the first years of his life, I was as far away as one can be from desiring God. ), it would prove to men and women of old just how far civilization and culture had fallen from those glorious days in the past. For Israelites, Samaritans were half-breeds, people who claimed a relationship with YHWH as their God of covenant who actually derived from the nations the Assyrians introduced into the land of Israel: when they were not active opponents of the Israelites of Judah, they remained a perpetual reminder of the exile and humiliation of Israel (cf. Examining Psalm 73:25-26, he notes how the Psalmist turns to worship. Asaph desires nothing on Earth besides God (Psalm 73:25). These days we tend to point to God’s “common grace,” that God gives rain to the just as well as the unjust (Matthew 5:45), or we just put off the question, as in the song “Farther Along,” presuming that we will understand everything at some point in a future realm. New Teaching in Your Inbox. The Psalms begin with a wisdom psalm affirming the way things should be: the righteous prosper while the wicked fade away in transience (Psalm 1). YHWH has taken care of David and continues to provide for him; David thus fully expected YHWH to continue to manifest goodness and covenant loyalty toward him for the rest of his life (Psalm 23:6). For most the code of conduct by which the heroes of the past lived persevered without question or doubt. Is that your motivation in life? God had anointed David’s head with oil and his cup overflowed: while David was anointed by Samuel at YHWH’s behest to be made king in 1 Samuel 16:13, both images here refer more to abundant prosperity from God’s hands (“anointed” is literally “to make fat” in the Hebrew; cf. David set forth what it meant for YHWH to be his shepherd: YHWH would provide what he needed (Psalm 23:1). This wonderful psalm may be best understood by the dominant pronouns within. God is the Other, far above mankind; He cannot be manipulated or controlled. Daily. The Genesis author’s attitude about them can teach us much about hero worship. Comparing a person to a sheep is not flattering, then or now: sheep, quite frankly, are dumb. It is for those who are frustrated when immoral people get their way, when justice is … He begins with a statement of faith about God’s goodness. The modern version of the story tells itself. Apocalypses unveil and reveal. These are not the “good people” who “deserve” what they have; they are arrogant, foolish, impious, oppressive, the rich people only fellow rich people tolerate (Psalm 73:4-12). This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. May we all prove to be neighbors to our fellow man of any and all nationalities, and seek to embody all of the commands of the Lord Jesus, however counter-cultural and counter-intuitive, so that we may glorify Him and obtain the resurrection of life! Desiring God. They are easily scared. 19How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee (Psalm 73:23-25). Countless generations have taken comfort and strength from Psalm 23:1-6, and for good reason. This psalm is a brutally honest confessional, from the heart of Asaph to the God he felt had given him a rip off. As a young man he lived as a shepherd, and thoroughly understood that responsibility (cf. Follow John Piper on Twitter. Psalm 73:23-28. The Israelite’s rationalizing question suffered from two flaws: not only was it an attempt to be restrictive of a broader command of God, it betrayed a person more interested in drawing lines than fulfilling the command. As we will see, a key point of this psalm is about overcoming wrong desires and finding right desires toward God. Can you say with Asaph in v. 25 – “Whom have I in heaven but you? For YHWH to be my shepherd, however, I must be His sheep (Psalm 23:1). Psalm 73:25. ( Log Out / $3.99 a month puts a library of commentaries, study notes, and Greek & Hebrew language tools right in your pocket. 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