Psalm 73:17 (ESV) "until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end..."
It was a Wednesday night, my sister and dad were going to church in Joplin, Missouri, where they live, and asked me to join them. I was there visiting for a few weeks spending time with dad after my mom’s passing. I was delighted to go so we headed over to the church rather quickly.
We were late getting there, so the room was packed, but we were able to find some seats in the very back. The pastor was teaching out of Psalm 73, a psalm written by Asaph. Asaph, was a Levite who some describe as a prophet. He was also a worship leader and very skilled in talents of singing and poetry. Many say that Asaph was not only very gifted, but a man who understood where his gifts came from and he used his music to praise the Lord amongst a needy world.
As we began to read Psalm 73, it sounded somewhat familiar to my heart, as if I were writing it myself! Asaph was in a stage of descent. He was questioning God about certain events and circumstances that overwhelmed him in his life and it was shaking his faith. He started describing God's faithfulness to His people, to those who were pure in heart, yet Asaph was seeing the wicked prosper in his generation. The wicked were becoming richer, seemed to live a life of ease and continued in their unbelief. He goes on to say that the wicked were full of pride and he was getting envious of their successes. He was honest and straightforward in his thinking and struggles with God.
Asaph describes in Psalm 73:13-14, how he was living his life in innocence for nothing, to no avail or advancement, but to continually have God on him twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, giving him more obstacles to overcome. Asaph uses the word "all” many times, which obviously isn’t accurate. He wasn’t living a pure life ALL in vain or for nothing, nor was he rebuked ALL day long by the Lord. He was definitely concentrating on himself here, which is understandable. When we develop a self focus, we tend to exaggerate the truth. Everything seems more of an issue to us, but in Asaph's defense, it was overwhelming to him. We all tend to do this when experiencing questions, especially doubts that attack our faith.
This next passage; however; is where the focus changes for Asaph and where it changed for me as I read it. Psalm 73:15 (ESV) says,“If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed the generation of your children.” In Asaph’s heart, he was questioning the circumstances around him AND, if God was going to address or change those circumstances. But before he reacted with the frustration and disappointment, he thought of the negative consequences to that action. If he spoke against the Lord out of anger and bitterness, he could have betrayed the next generation by attempting to discredit an All-Capable and All-Powerful God. Also, many believers would have questioned their circumstances as well, which would have harmed their spiritual growth and development. Even though Asaph still had his questions, he kept his mouth closed, not to talk about them with anyone except the Lord and Him alone.
Asaph later tells us in verse 17, that all the defending, all his striving to understand the 'not so understandable' and all his questions came to an utter end as he entered the sanctuary of God. The Lord changed his perspective from “self” to “eternal.” Wow, just a decision to pull away from a self focus view-point, to quit the descent and make a choice to arise! This can only happen when we are in God’s presence.
Now when I use the word “arise” it doesn’t mean to stand up, put on armor and go out with force to fight the enemy or find a different perspective. It's the absolute opposite. Arise really means that we are kneeling down in SURRENDER to the King Of Kings, asking Him to change our perspective and to give us His power to do so, because there is nothing in us that can. It's when we reach the end of ourselves that we find the true beginning in our Savior. It is only when we realize there is a bigger picture in this life and it doesn't revolve around us and our wants. That is ARISING, that is becoming the child of God that we need to be so He can reveal His greatness through us to a dying and lost world. That is life changing!
Some commentaries describe Psalm 73:17, to say that Asaph realized a shift in his focus allowed God to transform his heart, while allowing him to understand that this life was not for him to flourish and prosper in his own efforts and accomplishments. Instead, Asaph understood that man's existence on earth reflected a life of a pilgrim, or what I like to say, a sojourner, who is here but a moment, aspiring to follow Christ as they journey towards heaven, making God known to all.
I find it funny that our writers of the scriptures did not know they were living to be noted. They didn't realize that their very life circumstances and situations were being recorded to help us today. I praise the Lord for that, to have an actual demonstration, (in writing, black and white), on how to prosper in this life when at many times life doesn't make sense.
May we never define God by our circumstances but instead define our circumstances by our All Sufficient, All Powerful, All Knowing, Unquestionable Savior who is more than capable of conquering any task or situation within and around us for His Glory and Renown.
As always, I'm learning right there with ya,
Thankful For His Grace,