We go to Psalm 37 when we are struggling to survive and we see those who we know don’t acknowledge God continue to “prosper and be in health”. We get frustrated and discouraged so we go to Psalm 37 where David advises us to not envy the wicked because they will eventually “get theirs”
Psalm 37:1-2 (NLT)1 Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.2 For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
Then we get to the part that we really like;
Psalm 37:3-4 (NLT)3 Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
We really like the “And He shall give you the desires of your heart” part That may be why we really like this Psalm. We speak and affirm this specific verse not only when we are struggling but also when we just want what we want. I wrote about what it really means to delight yourself in the Lord (What Does It Mean to Delight Yourself in the Lord).
Today I read Psalm 73. I believe that this Psalm gives us even more reason to not envy and put all our trust in God who is in control of all things and in whose hands are all things.
Psalm 24:1 (NLT) The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.
It also urges us to not envy those you don’t acknowledge God. It goes into great depth in discussing how they continue to prosper although they are filled with pride and even scoff at heaven. The psalmist struggles to make sense of the fact that they have no regard for God yet nothing happens to them while he continues to struggle. Like us the frustration mounts even to the point that he starts to wonder if all of our prayer, praise, service, was all for nothing. Does it even matter? Does God hear? Does He care?
Then the writer answers his own questions. He realizes that God is the only one that he has and how foolish he was to fall into the trap of envy which became frustration and discouragement. His only response after coming to his senses again was to praise God and then tell others about His goodness.
Here’s Psalm 73. I pray that it moves you from frustration and discouragement to praise and encouragement.
Psalm 73:1-28 (NLT)1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure.2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.3 For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.4 They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong.5 They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty.7 These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for!8 They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others.9 They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth.10 And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words.11 “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”12 Look at these wicked people— enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?14 I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.15 If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people.16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is!17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.19 In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors.20 When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.22 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.23 Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.27 Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you.28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.