Psalm 73

Orientation – The Way it is Supposed to be (principle)
v.1 - Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

Now surely ...

Disorientation – The Way it really Seems to be (experience)
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

But I ...
1. 12 This is what the wicked are like- always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Why do good things happen to bad people? (vss. 4-11)

Why do good things happen to bad people? Is God paying attention?

2. 13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
Why do bad things happen to good people? (vss. 14-15)
I have done my best to keep the rules and be honest and I have suffered. Maybe living by the principles we were taught is a waste of time.

My life isn’t carefree. In fact it is more difficult because I am trying to do the right thing. And additionally, there is the burden of worrying about what others think – especially our children. Some days the only thing that keeps us from doing the wrong thing is that we think about our children.
Maybe we should assert ourselves by any means necessary if our cause is just? Can that be right? This is just too difficult and it is hard to know what’s right.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Is God paying attention?

New Orientation – The Way it Will Be (Hope)
16 When tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

Now surely ...
1. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.

Do you remember "the news" before 9/11? Here’s what Larry King Live was zeroing in on before 9/11 – Can John Edwards speak to the dead? Oprah Winfrey’s success, Gary Condit and the Chandra Levy scandal. After Tuesday, September 11 many of these side-show attractions seemed to disappear – why is that?

But I ...
2. 23 But I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

We have something great even in distress. When we tune in to our internal desire for something that this world cannot offer we get a glimpse of the big picture.
Now where do we get such a perspective? What high ground gives us that kind of view?
16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God ...

Only in worship do we get a view of the big picture.
In worship – in the presence of God – we bring both our principles and our experience.
In worship there is a place for the lessons we’ve always been taught and the reality that never seems to match up to those lessons.

  • Note that the Psalmist never apologizes for his envy and confusion – he admits it – but he brings it right up to God’s table.
    In worship, if we are honest before God, with one another, and with ourselves we get a new perspective – the view from worship – in which we see that God is paying attention! We are the ones who’ve been distracted.

    There is no apology for this weakness here. It admits that that God is something we cannot find anywhere else.
    God doesn't need us to come worship - We need it! We need the high ground of worship so we can get the view of the world from worship!

    In the weeks ahead the Psalmists will be our worship leaders. They will help us develop language that is honest before God. Language that might seem inappropriate to us – but language that probably expresses feelings we have all felt.

    The good news is that God invites us to speaks so boldly in our confusion and hurt. Why? Because this sort of honesty and openness before God takes him seriously – much more seriously than treating God like a mathematical premise or a warm fuzzy feeling. The one who takes a complaint to God takes him more seriously than those who offer pious lipservice and legal relationship.

    The view from worship is based in a relationship with the Almighty in which we know our place – and our place is as near him as we can get ...
    28 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.

    Chris Benjamin

    West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
    Morning Sermon, 13 June 2004

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