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(Opening Illustration about the Injustice in Washington, Government Officials, all for political gain and power, driven by money and greed, the guilty go unpunished while the innocent are accused as guilty.)
We're in series, But God...
And this morning, we're focusing on Psalm 73.
What we are going to see is that this is a psalm that deals with our raw emotions when life isn't fair and clean and neat as we think it should be.
When our hearts and minds believe in a just God and we look around at our world and see anything but fair, we are confused.
This is a psalm that deals with the complex matters of life as they really are.
Not as it is pretended to be.
The word ''psalm'' means songs or poems.
With more than 150 chapters of poetry and praise to God, this book will transform your life.
This book is filled with songs meant to be sung and cherished.
Each Psalm is intentionally written to engage your emotions.
We discover that a person named ''Asaph'' is the author of these words in Psalm 73.
Asaph is the one who is struggling with injustice in His day.
If you were to simply flip through the next few chapters in the Psalms, you would notice Asaph's name appears above the titles of Psalm 73-83 as well as Psalm 50.
Asaph is a Levite, part of the priesthood of ancient Israel.
He was also the musical leader in David's day (1 Chronicles 15-16).
Do you know any of the injustice that Asaph is dealing with?
Have you experienced the pain of your mate walking out on you?
Or, the betrayal of a business partner?
Perhaps you have given the best years of your life to raising your children, only to see them indifferent and ungrateful for all you have done for them?
Have you experienced the shock and bewilderment at being cut out of your inheritance?
Or perhaps you have worked harder and longer in your job, only to watch others get a promotion?
Perhaps your child is twice as good as the children starting the Little League game while your child sits on the bench?
Whether it is politics at the ball field, the church, or at the office, life hurts when you get a raw deal.
Some have seriously questioned God as they have seen their hard work and sacrifice rewarded with injustice and pain.
Some who are angry with God go so far as to deny His existence.
Here's a question to ponder: How can you be mad at someone who doesn't exist?
If you do not believe that there is a God at all, then you have no right to mad about injustice.
For there is no such thing as justice or injustice without God.
All you have is Darwinian evolution where the strong eat the weak.
Still others are confused by their anger and are not sure what to believe about God.
Some doubt not because of any evidence they have examined but because of their emotions.
Your doubt stems from your anger.
You are angry at the way God is running the world.
My Belief: God is Good.
This is a proverb in Hebrew culture.
It was something that every child would have learned in school.
It was something that every person in Hebrew synagogues would have repeated often.
Much like our modern day proverbs such as ''practice makes perfect,'' everyone knew verse one.
Each person throughout Israel would affirm that God is good.
We even see evidence of this in the New Testament as Jesus said: ''...No one is good except God alone.''
(Luke 18:19) Or, ''Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.''
(James 1:17)
Verse one both creates a crisis of faith for Asaph but it also marks a returning point for him.
His faith will be severely doubted in the verses to come.
Yet, verse one, the belief in God's goodness, acts like a boomerang.
Asaph's faith will return here.
2. My Experience: When Life and Faith Conflict.
In the verse following verse one, Asaph is honest with us.
This Psalm represents a crisis of our faith.
He shares with everyone his personal dilemma.
Here our deepest problem is no longer the boss, the Little League coach, or the spouse that has left us... Our biggest problem is God.
And for many of you, the pain of injustice is a personal problem - a problem where the character of God is called into question.
Can He be trusted?
He has seemingly failed us and we are left with despondency.
Asaph is the author of these words.
He speaks of these doubts as he says that his ''feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.''
(Psalm 73:2)
The words ''nearly slipped'' literally mean ''poured out.''
Asaph is saying that he began to question God's goodness and he almost lost his faith.
Lets continue reading...
Asaph uses word pictures that communicate down through the corridors of time to intricately describe the wicked.
He describes what they are wearing as they wear pride and arrogance for jewelry in verse six.
Instead of a shirt and pants, they wear violence to cover themselves in verse seven.
They may believe in a God but God is not examining carefully the details and days of men's lives (see verse eleven).
God is a remote deity that has better things to do than to care what the wicked are doing.
Notice carefully how God confronts each of Asaph's doubts.
Doubt #1: I'm Being Punished for Being Good.
''All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.''
(Psalm 73:13)
Asaph not only sees the prosperity of the wicked, but he sees those committed to God openly experience great distress in life.
What is the advantage of being a Christian if those who are not Christians get what I want and I don't get anything?
I'm being punished for being good.
Yet, note the contrast in verses two and twenty three:
''But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.''
(Psalm 73:2)
''Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.''
(Psalm 73:23)
In the beginning his envy almost caused his faith to slip.
In the end, it was God's grip on Him that kept him upright.
Doubt #2: I Don't Understand How God Can Reward the Ungodly
''For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.''
Psalm 73:14
Asaph began this Psalm by talking about God's goodness.
Yet, when he reflects on this he sees the misery of people all around him.
He experiences this on a daily basis.
This is spiritual and mental torment for him.
His faith is not a source of comfort for him but it is a source of perplexity.
It is easy for us to think of faith only as a ''problem solver.''
There are times that our faith in God poses greater problems for us.
Yet, in Asaph's near tumble from a firm faith (verse two) is later matched by a conviction that the wicked would slip and fall fatally at God's hands (verse eighteen): ''Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.''
(Psalm 73:18)
A wordplay reinforces a reversal that would incur.
The prosperity of the wicked (verse three) would be turned to ruin: ''For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.''
(Psalm 73:3)
Lurking around the corner for the wicked is terror.
Doubt #3: I Can't Let Anyone Hear Me Talk Like This
If I had said, ''I will speak thus,'' I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
(Psalm 73:15)
Asaph had to reign in his emotions.
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