Psalm 73 was written by Asaph. Let us read the NASB version of Psalm 73 and then I will comment on this precious portion from God’s Word. The NASB arranges Psalm 73 like a poem so I kept the arrangement for easier reading.

1 Surely God is good to Israel,

To those who are pure in heart!

2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,

My steps had almost slipped.

3 For I was envious of the arrogant

As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For there are no pains in their death,

And their body is fat.

5 They are not in trouble as other men,

Nor are they plagued like mankind.

6 Therefore pride is their necklace;

The garment of violence covers them.

7 Their eye bulges from fatness;

The imaginations of their heart run riot.

8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;

They speak from on high.

9 They have set their mouth against the heavens,

And their tongue parades through the earth.

10 Therefore his people return to this place,

And waters of abundance are drunk by them.

11 They say, “How does God know?

And is there knowledge with the Most High?”

12 Behold, these are the wicked;

And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure

And washed my hands in innocence;

14 For I have been stricken all day long

And chastened every morning.

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”

Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.

16 When I pondered to understand this,

It was troublesome in my sight

17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God;

Then I perceived their end.

18 Surely You set them in slippery places;

You cast them down to destruction.

19 How they are destroyed in a moment!

They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!

20 Like a dream when one awakes,

O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form.

21 When my heart was embittered

And I was pierced within,

22 Then I was senseless and ignorant;

I was like a beast before You.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;

You have taken hold of my right hand.

24 With Your counsel You will guide me,

And afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?

And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;

You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;

I have made the Lord God my refuge,

That I may tell of all Your works.

Verse 1 shows that when he was writing Psalm 73, Asaph realized that God is good to Israel and to those who have a pure heart. Then he discusses a perplexing thought process that he had in the past. In verses 2-14 Asaph describes his struggle to understand why the wicked were thriving and prospering while rejecting God. In verses 13 and 14 he wonders if there has been any purpose in living a pure life for the Lord if his reward is only deep trials. In verse 15 he considers talking to other believers about his struggle but decides not to since he does not want to stumble younger ones. In verse 16 he was very troubled about the prosperity of the wicked until he went into the sanctuary of God in verse 17. Then he understood the end of the wicked. William MacDonald wrote like he was Asaph when he wrote, “One day I went into the sanctuary of God—not the literal temple in Jerusalem but the heavenly one. I entered there by faith. As I was complaining to the Lord about the prosperity of the wicked in this life, the question suddenly flashed across my mind, ‘Yes, but what about the life to come?’ The more I thought about their eternal destiny, the more everything came into focus.”

Unbelievers may have wealthy, easy lives while on Earth, but judgment awaits them after death, as we see in verses 18-20. With this new realization Asaph felt badly about envying the wicked in verses 21 and 22. In spite of his foolish behavior, the Lord had not forsaken Asaph, as we see in verse 23. We have a beautiful promise in verse 24 that the Lord would guide Asaph with His counsel, and then receive him to glory when he died. Verses 25 and 26 describe the endless wealth of a relationship with the living God. Asaph could trust in the Lord no matter how bad things got in the life. Verse 27 states that the unbelievers will perish. In verse 28 Asaph contrasts the end of the wicked in verse 27 with the blessings of a life lived in nearness with the Lord. The last phrase of verse 28 expresses his desire to tell others about the wonderful works of the Lord.

In summary, let us not be envious of those wealthier than us who appear to have fewer problems and trials. Although they appear to be thriving, they are often quite miserable because they need the Lord. Let us remember that the Lord will help us each and every day until He ushers us into His glorious presence in heaven. When we stay close to the Lord through reading His Word and prayer, He gives us a desire to speak of His goodness to others. Instead of being jealous of unbelievers, let us tell them about what the Lord has done for us and what He can do for them. The Lord Jesus has died on the cross so that all who repent of their sins and believe on Him will have eternal life. We have a wonderful message to share!  (404.2)  (DJ)