Psalm 73 reminds us how easy it is to become entranced and envious of other people’s lives. When we see others succeeding even when their ways are not always right and just. It can lead us to become bitter to the life that we have. We see the life we have as not enough, and others seem to be enjoying their way of life better. However, the psalmist comes to his senses and realises how much the Lord protects and guides him to that which is better. That while there are many beautiful things on earth, they cannot compare with what only the Lord can give. It left me meditating on the questions; what is my heart desiring and why? Is my heart fixated on that which is temporary or on that which is steadfast and eternal?
We have all been created with the freedom to pursue our own desires, we all have different passions and interests. However, sometimes what people choose to pursue actually leads to a lack of freedom for others. They end up gaining great wealth through the manipulation and oppression of people. That leads to great sorrow and injustice. Sometimes what we strive for in life because others have it, leads to more harm than good. This psalm is wonderful in its honesty and I think it helps us all to reflect on why our hearts desire the things they do. I know I can easily be led into believing that the temporary pleasures of this world are enough. That is such a lie because it is only the Lord that can give us what we truly need. As we meditate on this psalm, I hope that revelation becomes a truth in our life.
But as for me, my feet almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (v2-3)
The psalmist honestly speaks of losing sight/grip of foundation that he had. His mind becomes consumed by others as they successfully become more prosperous. For many of us this is relatable, especially in this present age. Our eyes are constantly met with the successes and riches of others through various media forms. It makes us look at our own lives and we see them as inadequate in comparison to others. It leads us to strive for materialistic goods or worldly success, that deep down we know our hearts are not truly desiring. We begin to lose ourselves because we believe that we always need more, and we will do anything to grasp it. Referring back to the psalmist, he highlights how he nearly lost. He did not completely lose himself, but he does reflect on how he viewed those around him.
They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.
As the psalmist describes them, they come across as these god-like figures. They seem to stand above everyone else and go untouched by the everyday human concerns. It seems to highlight the belief that there is this way of the life that is so powerful, that those with great wealth are untouchable. However, the psalmist is not blind to their ways of how they acquire their wealth and power.
From their callous hearts come iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. They scoff and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. (v7-9)
There is nothing beautiful that the psalmist highlights about their way of life. It is built on oppression, evil, arrogance and manipulation. These are the people that the psalmist feels envious of and it is not because of the way that they live. It seems to be the power and the authority that they have. For this psalmist says:
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishment. (v13-14)
The psalmist has led a life in which he has endeavoured to keep his ways pure and innocent. However, that has only been met with cruelty and pain. He is met with affliction and each morning only brings new punishment. The way that he has desired to live does not seem to add up to the freedom and power that those who are prosperous have. They seem untouchable whereas his life is in constant affliction. The psalmist feels pretty hard done by, which is relatable for many of us. The life that we choose to live seems to be walked all over by those in power. We only have to look to our governments to see how little they care for the people they are meant to support and care for. However, the psalmist allows the truth to be revealed to him.
When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God, then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. (V17-20)
It is a harsh reality of what can result from a life that is not built on a solid foundation. It shows how when all your foundations are built on your own successes, life can easily come crumbling done. Furthermore, the Lord is not ignorant or blind to our ways. It can be hard to understand why people can go oppressed for so long, but these verses remind us of the authority and power that the Lord has. Those who thought they had ultimate power, they quickly come to nothing. They cannot compare to the authority that God has. The psalmist sees the compassion and love of the Lord as he is led to something better.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, afterward you will take me into glory. (v23-24)
What is wonderful about these verses is that the psalmist highlights how God will guide him and counsel him. Ultimately, he will be taken up in glory. That is the end result. The psalmist does not say that life will be beautiful through that whole process, but he does know the Lord will be by his side. There is a lot to reflect on our lives, we can all become easily distracted by the successes of others and we forget to see how much God is doing in our lives. We think to have influence we need to have 1000’s of followers. We try to make our own way in life when it does not measure up to our expectations. Forgetting that the Lord has always promised to be with us, and we lose sight of why we chose to be in relationship with the Lord. God loved us so much that he sacrificed his one and only son to get us back, yet we still allow ourselves to get distracted by the temporary pleasures of the world.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (v25)
This verse seems an honest realisation and declaration that the psalmist makes. It is that realisation that no one or anything is worth sacrificing that relationship with the Lord. There will always be many things that are advertised as being our saviour or helping us to become who we are meant to be. In reality, none of that stuff will save us. Everything that is worldly will ultimately crumble. The psalmist realises that even he has his time.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (v26)
The psalmist knows how much he needs the Lord. It will always be the Lord who will be his strength and his portion. The Lord continues to be faithful and steadfast in all his ways. The psalmist finishes with his comparison between those who are faithful and not.
Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (v27-28)
The psalmist comes to know that it is good to be near God. That he will live a life that will be used to share the deeds of the Lord. Not a life that is being squashed due to comparison to those around him. Although, what it is written about those who are unfaithful seems harsh. The way that they choose to live and how they glorified themselves ultimately becomes their own downfall. They lose sight of the who God is. They attempt to become their own gods. There will always be people who follow their example and that is why it is so important to know what your heart is desiring and the root for it is. If we only pursue worldly wealth and favour, we end up losing everything. What God will it be for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul? ( Matthew 16v26)
I do not write this blog to condemn anyone however it is a psalm that has convicted my heart. I know I have always been easily swayed by the beautiful and wonderful ways of this world. There have been many times I needed a reality check on what my heart was desiring and why. Many times, I was simply desiring the things of this world because it seemed to make other people happy; I was hoping it would make me happy too. I have been learning that everything is temporary, all the beautiful things I enjoy will one day diminish or I will simply lose interest. Instead what my heart needs is something steadfast and true. That can only come from the Lord, nothing or no one will give me what only God can give. For sure, I know that my life may not always be as beautiful and successful as I wanted it to be. However, I do know that the Lord is leading me to a greater and more beautiful future than I could ever believe. That only comes through surrender and choosing the Lord as the desire of my heart. It does not mean that I will not enjoy things on earth. I love to listen to K-pop, to read and to drink a little too much coffee. It does not mean that I do not have desires to do well in life. I do know all those desires and interests are pointless without the Lord. It may mean temporary success and respect from others. However, at the end of my life, I want to go and spend it with my Saviour. My Saviour who has cared for me, loved me and guided me all my life. No desire is worth sacrificing my relationship with the Lord. That is how I will choose to live, even with the bumps along the road. I will keep learning and growing and choosing daily to surrender.
I would encourage you to read over the psalm and ask for the Lord to speak into your life. Take some time to meditate on the questions from the beginning of this blog. The process may take some time, but the Lord will hold you by your right hand and help you with the desires of your heart. There have been many people who have lost who they are pursuing the success that others have. Do not waste the life you have been given, you have so much to offer regardless of how big or small your audience may be.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the freedom that you give us to all have passions and interests. Thank you that our hearts desire to do good and to help those around us. We want to pray for your guidance. Some of us have lost our way as we choose to desire what everyone else has. We do not always realise how much originality and beauty you have poured into us already. Some of us have chosen to become content with worldly pleasures, forgetting how temporary they are. May we trust that you will take us by the right hand and lead us into a better future. That which is steadfast and true. It is hard for us to believe in something we cannot see and do not understand fully. You ask us to have faith, even faith as small as a mustard seed is enough. May we trust you and may our hearts desires align with that which helps to bring your love and truth to the people around us. Thank you for the good gifts that we have received on earth. May we remember not to lose sight of who we are to gain success and riches, for they never compare to the life that only you can give us. In Jesus name, amen.
May we continue to pray and support those around us. God bless, Victoria. xx