When You see the Righteous Suffer and the Wicked Prosper

The Inequities of Life (PS 73)  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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was written by Asaph it’s important we know who Asaph was. He was not just an ordinary lay person. Asaph was one of three primary musicians in David’s Tabernacle. He was a Levite, thus in the line of hereditary priests, although it is unknown whether he was a priest himself. He was apparently the ancestor of a long line of temple musicians known as the “Sons of Asaph”
Asaph is mentioned in the opening lines of and 73-83. This means that either he wrote them, or they were in the style established by him, or they were composed by the sons of Asaph. Probably some of the twelve fall into each of the categories. When David had built the Tabernacle and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, it was accompanied by the Musicians Asaph, Ethan, and Heman, representatives of three major clans of the Levites. They sang and struck cymbals as the Ark entered the city, and after that Asaph was made the chief of the musicians who sang and played the harp and cymbals at formal ceremonies in the Tabernacle. Asaph was a leader in their faith.
Asaph witnessing the suffering of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked cause him to have serious thought about his faith in God.
Asaph had frame of mind was not so good he had a question that he needed answered. A question that we all may have ask ourselves on time or another. Why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. This is probably the number one factor of why Christians may question their faith.
The bible teaches us that God blesses the righteous and judges the wicked. Yet , it so often appears that the ungodly prosper more and suffer less than the godly. From good people who seem to have more than their share of troubles to faithful believers who are attacked by criminals to Christians who are persecuted and martyred for their faith, the suffering of the righteous does not make sense to us.
This is exactly the dilemma that prompted Asaph to write .
is the last of three psalm that address the suffering of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked. (;)
Without question what God teaches us through Asaph, leads a sense of closures the subject: the understanding of life's’ perplexing dilemmas is found only in the presence of God. When our faith is shaken by the wicked things occurring in this world, we need to draw near to God.
In this psalms Asaph Brings Four Points to our Attention.
The 1st Point Asaph brings to our Attention:
We need to Stan on God’s Word.
Although Asaph was struggling with the suffering of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked , he determined to stand on the clear teaching of God’s Word: God is good to His People.
He is good to all who are pure in heart. Commentator Derek Kinder notes the phrase in heart is much more than clean minded .. basically, it is being totally committed to God.
The truth of God’s Word is not determined by our experiences and observation, God’s Word is true regardless of how things appear to us. () The Devil ‘s oldest trick is to cast doubt on God’s Word. This is exactly what he did with Eve in the Garden of Eden, He twisted God’s command to abstain from eating of the tree of knowledge, leading Eve to question God’s goodness. In this same fashion, He uses the injustices of this world to tempt us to question God’s Word and character. Like Jesus in () when He was tempted , we must stand firm on God’s Word using it to resist Satan. God’s Word is Absolute truth. Whatever happens, it will stand, and it will endure forever. We must Never allow ourselves to be moved from or what it says, regardless of our experiences or feelings. God is good to His people.
() states “Haven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
2nd point Asaph brings to our Attention Is:
V. 2-16
We Need to Confess our Struggles and Lack of Understanding to God.
Asaph was struggling with a serious problem: he could not understand why he, a righteous man,suffered every day while the wicked prospered, the injustice of this had shaken his faith to the core. . He had kept his feeling bottled up for so long that he was now at the breaking point. Feeling unable to speak to anyone else about his questions, he confess his struggle and lack of understanding to God.
a. (v. 2-12) Confess that you are tempted to slip back: because you envy the prosperity ( pleasures and Possessions ) of the wicked
What Asaph could not understand seriously threatened his faith. He openly confessed that he was strongly tempted to slip back from following The Lord. He had stood firm in his confidence in God and His goodness, but the prosperity of the wicked trouble him so much that he almost slipped from the right path. He became envious of the foolish, the proud, the arrogant people who put themselves and their selfish desires over God’s righteous commands.
As Asaph observed their easy lives, it seemed that the ungodly were exempt from the struggles of life and any pains of death. The wicked somehow appeared to avoid pain of affliction that the righteous suffer,even in their deaths their bodies were well -fed, and healthy and strong.The lived free of life’s ordinary burdens and problems. From his perspective, they were immune to hardship.
Even more unjust to Asaph was this fact: the easy lives of the wicked spawned more pride in their sinful hearts. They wore their rebellion against God’s commands like a medal of honor their necks. Showing little restraint, they clothed themselves with violence, with cruel, criminal acts against others. In spite of this, they seemed to have everything their hearts could desire. their eyes bulges from fat, symbolizing their abundance of money and possessions.
Asaph continued to describe the despicable behavior of the corrupt. They used their tongues for evil. They spoke maliciously, and threatened others. They even cursed and spoke against God Himself. Asaph painted a graphic picture of their boastful speaking, depicting their arrogant tongues fearlessly strutting across the face of the earth. As they proudly paraded their wickedness, they openly intimidated everybody they encountered as they were untouchable.
As the wicked spread their verbal poison throughout the land, many people foolishly believed their false promises. Enticed by the deceiver’ prosperous lives, the people blindly followed the them, and abundant waters are slurped up by them portrays senseless, simple minded people heartily drinking up the toxic water that abundantly spewed out of the evildoers’ vile mouths.
With minds totally corrupted, these rebellious people mock God, going so far as to question His existence and power.
These evil people had the audacity to ask these questions. How does God know? Does the Most High even have the knowledge He claims to Have?
We are not up to (v. 2-12) These evil people had the audacity to ask these questions. How does God know? Does the Most High even have the knowledge He claims to Have?
Apparently, since they suffered no penalty for their misbehavior and injustice, they assumed that one of the three things must be true.
God did not see or know what they did.
God was not powerful enough to stop them or punish them.
God does not exist at all.
These are the wicked Asaph conclude. This is what the wicked are like. In spite of their fiendish behavior, their blatant flaunting of God’s holy law, they are always at ease. They lead carefree live, and all the while their prosperity continues to increase.
their their necks.
b. (v.13-16) Confess the intense turmoil you are experiencing.
Asaph was brutally honest with God: The prosperity of the wicked had thrust him into intense turmoil. He had begun to question the very foundation of his faith, wondering if living for God , was useless.
Day by day, he made ever effort to walk righteously. He had turned away from the bright lights, the pleasures, and perversion of the world. Was it all in vain? Had he kept his heart pure for nothing? Did he wash his hands in innocence carefully guarding his behavior to be innocent of wrongdoing, to no avail?
In Spite of his best efforts to live a godly life, Asaph was plagued with trial and troubles. Plagued and rebuked indicates that he had been struck by what he felt was God’s Judgement. All day long and every morning suggest that he had been touched by a physical affliction, perhaps an ongoing, incurable decease.
For some time, Asaph had kept his feeling bottled up within, causing severe mental and emotional stress. As a chief worship leader in Israel, he carefully considered his influence on other. If he talked about what he was feeling, he knew that he would offend God’s people. He felt that he would betray the faith that he betray the faith that bound Israel throughout the generations, even the current generation of children. At the same time, however, trying to know or understand this --- why God’s allowed the wicked to prosper while he suffered- kept him reeling in utter turmoil.
You know personal suffering can seriously challenge our faith, just as it did Asaph’s. This godly man suffered every day with a serious affliction, some severe trials that he felt was God’s discipline in his life. At the same time, he watched the wicked go about their vile business untouched by trouble.
I want you to notice that Scripture does not condemn Asaph for having these feelings. One of the greatest lesson of Psalms is that we have the liberty to empty our hurting hearts at God’s throne.
The same lesson is taught again here at the beginning of Book III of the book of Psalms. God is not weak or overly sensitive. Rather, He is powerful and understanding. He can handle our burdens, and He can deal with our questions, even when they are about Him. When we do not understand God’s ways () When we lack wisdom about our trial---We can ask for God’s help
Also note Asaph’s Concern for God people. As a leader, he did not speak of his struggles to other people, least he betrays their faith. Pastors and other leader know what it is like to be unable to talk to others when their own faith is challenged. If the individuals they lead learn of their questions and doubts, then they might lose confidence in their pastor or leader, or they too might be tempted to slip in their faith. None of us should keep our feeling that we cannot express to any other person. We can always tell them to Jesus. He knows and understands our conflict. () when Jesus cried out to God Eli, Eli, lema sa-bach-tha-ni this My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?)
Having suffered every trial and temptation that we might face, Jesus is able to help us when we are tried.
3rd () Point Asaph Brings to our Attention We are to Enter the presence ( Sanctuary) of God and listen to Him (His Holy Word)
Enter the presence ( Sanctuary) of God and listen to Him (His Holy Word)
With his sprite in bondage bondage to his negative feeling, Asaph went to the sanctuary of God-the place where His presence dwelled in a special way. Entering God’s presence set Asaph free from the envy and bitterness that gripped his soul. As he bowed before the Lord, God spoke to his heart from His Holy Word. By listening to God, Asaph learned four invaluable lessons that change his perspective and his life.
a. (v.17-20) You will understand the destiny of the Wicked.
When Asaph entered God presence, The Lord lifted him above the injustices of this present world in order for him to see the destiny of the wicked. This is to say, God gave him a clear understanding of the end of the ungodly.
They are on a slippery path to destruction.
They will be suddenly destroy, utterly consume or swept away by instantaneous, unexpected terrors. Picture the wicked recklessly going about their ungodly lives, thinking that God does not see them. Then, all of a sudden, some terrifying calamity--- God’s judgement—rips them out of this world and forcefully thrusts them into eternal condemnation.
They will be destroyed by the Lord Himself. Like a quickly -forgotten dream, their lives will suddenly pass away, never to be seen again. The picture here is of God awakening in judgment and totally wiping the wicked off the face of the earth. They be like an image, a fantasy or illusion that never really existed.
b. (v. 21-22) You learn how wrong you are
Like Isaiah the the prophet’s experience ()
Asaph’s entering The Lord’s holy presence caused him to see himself in a different light. He recognized how wrong he was in allowing himself to be overcome by negative thinking. By saying his fermented or sour. plainly stated, Asaph humbly admitted that his attitude toward God had become rotten When he said “I felt stabbed in the kidneys” he ment that he had allowed his envy of the wicked and his bitterness toward God to pierce through or corrupt his entire life, all the way to his innermost being. Convicted and ashamed, Asaph bluntly stated that he was both foolish and ignorant before God, like a senseless animal.
c. (v.23-24). You will learn that you belong to God
Asaph now realized a merciful truth: even though he had slipped away from God, God had never left him. He belonged to God. At his lowest moment, when he was better toward God, The Lord never let go of him. He held tightly onto Asaph’s right hand — a picture of God’s protection and direction. God also guided him with His counsel, His Holy Word. When Asaph strayed from the truth , God’s word led him back, enlightening him to his own foolishness and illuminating God’s goodness and righteousness. With his faith renewed Asaph declared that God’s counsel would continue to guide him through the rest of his life. Then God would receive him in glory,that is, lead him into His Holy Presence.
d.(v. 25-27) You will learn that God is Enough, all you need in heaven and on earth
Asaph saved his most precious lesson for last: being God’s presence overshadows all the trials and injustices of life. Even as he pondered the glories of heaven, he declared that all he longed for there was there was God. To him, heaven is heaven because God is there. In Addition, entering God’s presence had now brought complete satisfaction to his life. he was able to say in all honesty that the only thing he desired on earth was God. God is enough. He is all that matters. He is all we need.
In God’s presence, Asaph found strength for his difficult life .He declared that though his flesh and heart, his health and spirit might fail, God would sustain him through his afflictions. Death held no power over him, for God was his portion forever. (means a share of an inheritance). Asaph proclaimed that that the Lord was his inheritance. When he died, he would live eternally in God’s presence.
Focusing on his magnificent future enabled Asaph to accept the present reality the prosperity of the wicked. Although he suffered affliction in his life, he had the hope of living with God forever . In contrast, the ungodly have no hope whatsoever, for God will destroy all who turn away from Him.
At times, we all struggle with questions about God and why He allows things to happen as they do, both in our own lives and the lives of others around the world.There are many things we simple cannot understand, for instance...
the many injustices of evil governments
the suffering of innocent children and the weak
atrocious acts by criminals, terrorist, and dictators
crippling illnesses and desease
widespread famine and poverty
natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes
the tragic death of children and you adults
These and a multitude of other horrible things can leave us reeling physically, mentally, and emotionally and cause us to question God’s goodness and love. When this is our state of mind, only one thing can help us; entering God’s presence. When we bow before the Lord, He will reveal His goodness to us, and He will speak to our hearts. As His Word and Spirit comfort us, He will teach about Himself. We will learn that He is all we need and that His strength will empower us to deal with whatever difficulties come into our lives. He will lead us to the realization that His presence in our lives is enough. He will guide us back to the right path.
Like Asaph, we must look beyond the evils and injustices of this world and focus on the future. God is absolutely righteous. He will judge judge the wicked; and the righteous as difficult as our lives may be in the present--- we will spend eternity in His presence.
Our hope extends beyond this life to the future, when God takes of all His children’s needs. The inheritance of the wicked is everlasting destruction and desolation. But God is our portion, our share, our inheritance. We will live with Him forever!
4th ponit Asaph brings to our attention: is to
Bear Strong witness for God.
Realizing that others struggled with the same issue he did, Asaph determined to bear strong witness regarding what God had done in his life. Drawing near to God gave Asaph the perspective on the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous. By entering God’s presence, he had learned to trust God.
a.(v.28) He is The Lord God, the Sovereign.
Asaph first had to gain the right on who God is. He is The Lord God (Adonai, Yahweh or Jehovah). This title emphasizes that our covenant-keeping God is the Master of all things. He is ultimately in control of everything that takes place in our lives and in this world.
b.(v.28) He is your refuge.
Gaining the right perspective on God gave Asaph the right perspective on the injustices of life. Realizing that God is in control enabled him to put his trust in God, to take refuge in Him. instead of struggling with the question of why he was suffering while the wicked prospered, he decided to rest in God, fully trusting the Lord to take care of him and to do what was right. As a result, Asaph was able to say wholeheartedly that, in spite of how things may appear sometimes, (v.1)God is truly good to His people.
Asaph’s testimony is the great lesson of : when we are wrestling with the injustices of this world, we need to recognize who God is and trust Him to do what is right.
He is our Lord, our personal God with whom we have an eternal relationship through His covenant. As His children through faith in Jesus Christ, He will take care of us. () State that we are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus
When we draw near to Him and trust Him, we gain the right perspective on the problems of life. Like Asaph,we will than have a testimony we can share with others. We can declare the work God has done in our lives and help others who are struggling to realize that God is always in control and can be trusted in all things. Surely God is good to His people
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