Psalm 73: When Life Seems Unfair

The Book of Psalms   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction - $78k a year to be chief candy officer! Dream job!
Not fair that someone is going to get paid $78k a year for tasting candy! No experience necessary! Applicants can be as young as 5 years old!
Not fair… You’ve either said it out loud or you’ve thought it. Not fair that you work 50 hours a week at a job you don’t like while you barely make enough money to get buy and a 10 year old kid makes $78k a year tasting candy.
Easy to dwell on the unfairness of life, and when you do, you can begin to doubt God.
If God is so good, why is life so unfair? Why do bad people prosper while good people suffer?
For centuries, Christians have asked these questions. For centuries, Christians have had seasons of doubt. Can I really believe in a good God when the world seems so unfair?
This is the struggle of the psalmist in Psalm 73.
Book III of the Psalms. Book II ends with this statement: “The prayers of David son of Jesse are concluded” (Psalm 72:20). A few more psalms of David as we move toward the end of the Psalter, but we hear from others besides David in the remainder of the Book. Psalm 73-83 are written by Asaph.
Theme of Book III: “How could God abandon his king and his people?” Majority of these psalms written when God’s people are in exile. There is no king on the throne. Is there any hope for Israel?
Makes sense that this psalm opens up Book III - a psalm of doubt - a psalm that we need to consider. This morning, three ways to respond when life seems unfair.

Examine your focus.

Asaph - A song leader at the tabernacle (1 Chr 6:31).
vs. 1 - God is good. Asaph knows it because he’s seen it. He saw David’s rise to power. He saw the ark of the covenant brought to the tabernacle. He saw the nation of Israel prosper.
You know God is good. You’ve seen Him at work in your life. You can point to moments in your life when God’s work was evident.
BUT then… the doubt creeps in. Seasons when it doesn’t seem like God is blessing you like He once was.
vs. 2 “My feet almost slipped…” Asaph loses his footing. He nearly went astray. Why?
vs. 3 - Asaph began to compare his life to the lives of others. He saw the wicked prospering.
He saw their wealthy lifestyles… their ease of life (vs. 5), their bulging waistlines from an abundance of food.
Also saw how the wicked oppressed and spoke against God (vs. 8, 9, 11).
Vs. 12 - “Look at the wicked! They are always at ease, and they increase their wealth.”
You can hear it in Asaph’s voice. “It’s not fair!”
Asaph struggled with what we struggle with when we consider our own struggles and the prosperity of others: envy (vs. 3), discouragement (vs. 14), confusion (vs. 16), and anger (vs. 21).
vs. 1 - God is indeed good. vs. 2 - 16 - Maybe God isn’t so good.
When you start to doubt God’s goodness what do you do? Examine your focus.
2 questions:
Are you too focused on what you can see in the present?
Maybe you’ve misunderstood what Jesus meant when He told you He would give you abundant life. You thought abundant life meant material prosperity - you heard a late night preacher tell you that God wants to financially bless you. OR, abundant life = success. OR, abundant life = good and easy life. If God is for you, shouldn’t He give you those things? BUT… abundant life means life with God.
Chik-fil-a gift cards in bag - abundant life? What God does or doesn’t give me, or something else?
Maybe God’s abundant life is not good enough for you. You’ve exchanged what you know about what God offers for what you want from the world. Envy and greed fill your heart and you want stuff more than you want God.
Maybe you’ve lost perspective. All that stuff you want it temporal (Matthew 6:19).
Are you too unfocused on what you cannot see?
What you cannot see is what God is accomplishing in your life right now through the circumstances you think are unfair.
What you cannot see is the eternal reward that awaits you.
What you cannot see is the misery in the hearts of the wicked who seem to be so prosperous. That guy driving the $100k Mercedes could be eaten up with all kinds of inward turmoil.
When you doubt - examine your focus - what is your heart really focused on - what you don’t have or who you do have?

Examine your response.

How do you respond when life seems unfair?
vs. 13: “Did I do this for nothing?” Ever feel that way? Did I attend church all these years for nothing? Were all those prayers I prayed in vain? Was all that Bible study for nothing?
Ever been tempted to walk away from the faith?
What leads someone to cry out with the same words that Asaph does?
You’ll be tempted to say that following Jesus was a waste when:
You want results from God more than a relationship with God.
You try to make sense of life by applying the world’s wisdom instead of applying God’s wisdom. World’s wisdom: all about what you want. God’s wisdom: all about what God wants.
You might not have said, “Following Jesus is a waste,” but if you find yourself drifting in your faith, or not pursuing your relationship with God like you used to, you are giving evidence that you don’t think following Jesus is worth your time.
You’ll always say following Jesus is worth it when you change your “if only’s” to “if then’s”
If only I had…
If only I was born to the right family.
If only my circumstances were different.
If only I hadn’t been mistreated.
If only I had more education.
If only my spouse...
If only my children…
If God loves me, then I can be devoted to Him.
If God has given everything for me, then I can trust Him.
If God is faithful to me, then I can endure difficulties.
If God good, then I can trust He is working out all things for His glory and my good.
If Jesus is returning for me, then I can take my focus off of the temporal and put it on the eternal.

Examine your heart.

Dramatic turn in vs. 17…
“Until I entered God’s sanctuary” (vs. 17). Seeing the penalty of sins being paid - BUT not for the wicked…
When life seems unfair:
Beware of neglecting God’s presence. Life is unfair because we live in a broken world. Things aren’t what they are supposed to be, but it won’t always be this way. When life seems unfair, you even more need to discipline yourself to be in the presence of God so you can be reminded of His truth. When life seems unfair, you might not want to be in God’s presence, but you need to be in God’s presence.
Beware of an idolatrous heart (vs. 21-22). Asaph realized something was going on his heart. God wasn’t unfair. God was good. Asaph was “stupid.” Something had taken place in his innermost being - he longed for the world more than he longed for God. He had committed idolatry. BUT God took him by the right hand and guided hi with His counsel (vs. 24).
Asaph’s issue is your issue! My issue! Idolatry! You commit idolatry when you put something/someone before God as what’s most important in your life.
Your idol sets the agenda for your life. It’s what you think about and pursue. Your idol is what you are faithful to.
Idols are good things that you’ve made God things. Enjoying the things of life is a good thing, but that becomes your idol when it becomes the source of all of your joy and satisfaction - when you let that good thing consume a place in your life that only God should occupy.
If you feel like God is unfair, the problem is not that God has been unfaithful to you. The problem is you’ve been unfaithful to God.
Repentance - a heart issue that God wants to deal with in you this morning. He wants you to repent of idolatry.
Beware of forgetting eternity. Asaph’s attitude changes at the end of the psalm. In the presence of God, He’s reminded of God’s justice.
vs. 3 - Asaph on the slippery slope - losing his footing.
vs. 18 - it’s the wicked who will lose their footing. They may have it all now, but ultimately they will come to a swift end.
vs. 27 - They will perish. God will destroy the unfaithful.
For Asaph - Life might seem unfair now, but God is accomplishing something in his life AND God is accomplishing something in your life as well.
vs. 23 - 26 - Asaph is always with God. vs. 26 - heart and flesh might fail. BUT… God is your strength and portion forever.
THIS is the cry of the believer! Right now, life might seem unfair, but we have eternity in view. God is our strength and portion forever - when everything fails us - even when our own bodies fail us - God will not.
THIS is why being in the presence of God is good - (Vs. 28) - God’s presence helps us keep our heart in check by focusing us on what’s eternal.
When life seems unfair and when I began to doubt God’s goodness, I don’t need to pull away, I need to press in.
When life seems unfair, and when I begin to doubt, I don’t need to look out, I need to look up.
If anyone knew the unfairness of life, it was Jesus. Unfairly treated by people. Despised and rejected by those He came to save. Showed love, compassion, and served others - yet scorned, mocked, and beaten.
Jesus knows what it is like to live in an unfair world, but in this unfair world, Jesus willingly went to a cross - Jesus willingly said to His Father, “Not my will, but your will done...” And Jesus died for the people that had treated Him so unfairly. He died as our perfect sacrifice. He died and rose again so that you can know that God is at work in your life to secure your eternity.
This One who died for you invites you to follow Him NOT so you can have everything you want, but so you can have everything He wants for you. That’s far better than you having what you want. Turn to Him today. When you do, you can say with the psalmist, “Who do I have in heaven but you?” (vs. 25)
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