in the day when I was a high school band and choir director, I remember walking
in front of the school with my wife Patty when I slipped on some mud that had covered
the sidewalk. As amazing as it sounds, I
“surfed” across the surface of that mud and earnestly tried to avoid falling in
the mud. Although it wasn’t graceful and
it certainly wasn’t pretty, I stayed on my feet and we got a good laugh out of
that time when I almost slipped. I haven’t
always been so fortunate.
life has a way of throwing mud on the sidewalk and we have to trek across
it. As we slip and slide through these
moments in life, we can have a tough time trying to keep our feet under us. It can be very difficult staying upright when
the mud is so slippery. This is the idea
we find ourselves in with Psalm 73:2-3.
2 But as for
me, my feet had almost slipped;
had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied
I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Hebrew underlying our English word translated “but” in verse 2 provides a
distinct contrast to verse 1. In the
opening of this Psalm, Asaph (see blog about this verse) declares His core belief
in the goodness of God Almighty. The
contrast to God’s goodness is the struggle of us humans when we see the “prosperity of the wicked.” Asaph’s honesty reaches so far as to say, “I envied the arrogant.”
these confessions, he says he almost loses his way. Although we have a certain understanding of
why Asaph is struggling, let’s really keep this in its Biblical context. This was not just your average “religious”
guy. He was a priest in Israel. He was a musician and worship leader during
the “glory days” of the nation: the reign of King David. He knew the Scriptures. Asaph wasn’t just complaining because he
didn’t understand the truth of God’s Word or because he was ignorant to the
sovereignty of God. If he was not
Biblically literate, it wouldn’t be such a striking contrast between verse 1 and
knew the Word of the Lord. He knew the
truth of Proverbs 3:34 “He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and
oppressed.” He meditated on truths like “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a
fall” (Proverbs 16:18). He might have even composed a worship song using
expressions like Psalm 1:3-6:
3 That person [a righteous person] is like a tree planted by streams of water,
its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way
of the wicked leads to destruction.
this isn’t what is happening around Asaph and so he begins to slip into the
darkness of doubt. Now let’s be clear,
dear friends, doubt is NOT the same as unbelief. Doubt means we’re struggling with
something. Unbelief means we’ve made up
our mind. Truthfully, “unbelief” means we have hardened our hearts and refuse
to surrender to the Lord.
he doubts, but Asaph still believes.
Yes, he confessed a sin by being jealous for the “prosperity of the wicked.” The word used for “prosperity” is the Hebrew word
(transliterated) “shalom.” This word, with a wide range of meaning,
refers to “completeness, wholeness, welfare, peace, tranquility, and/or
wealth.” We also have to note: Asaph
said his feet almost slipped. He
still believed. His belief expressed in
verse 1 is still strong: he serves God Almighty. And He hasn’t changed.
one, we all feel like this sometimes.
I’ve never met a single Christian who didn’t struggle through the same
feelings. Why do those who seem so far
away seem the most fulfilled? Why do they
seem so happy and well off? Although
there are no quick answers, I do have a few things to keep in mind (at least,
they help me.)
You aren’t as bad off as
you think. It’s easy to have a pity party and miss all
the blessings God has given you right now!
Look around you. You have friends
and family to join you on the journey.
You have Christian relationships where you can pour into others and they
can pour into you. You are building up
your life in the areas that truly matter.
God is still in control. I find great comfort in knowing this. God didn’t fall asleep or trip over His
footstool and is now lying in bed, out of control.
He is still sovereign and He knows what He’s doing. Moreover, He doesn’t need our help. You can rest in Him. You can trust Him.
They aren’t as fulfilled
as they seem. While living here on
earth, they may have all the success and ease we can imagine but their lives,
without Christ, are empty. Sometimes,
that’s why they pursue this comfort with such tenacity: they’re trying to fill
the void in their hearts.
okay to almost slip. Just don’t
slip into mud, all right?
Scattered words and empty
Seem to pour from my
I’ve never felt so torn
Seems I don’t know where
Though the questions
still fog up my mind
With promises I still
seem to bear
Or even when answers
It’s my heart I see You
Well the only place I
can go is into Your arms
Where I throw to You my
Well in brokenness I can
That this was Your will
Help me to know You are
But it’s now that I feel
Your grace fall like rain
From ev’ry fingertip
washing away my pain
‘Cause I still believe
in Your faithfulness
‘Cause I still believe
in Your truth
‘Cause I still believe
in Your holy Word
Even when I don’t see I
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