David’s life story in the books of Samuel and Chronicles, and his 73 or more Psalms give us a unique insight into the life of this amazing king of Israel who God chose as a man after His own heart. David became powerful and wealthy and served as king for 40 years. With all that power and wealth, one might think David would have a very happy and satisfied life, but his story and Psalms reveal otherwise.
The Bible tells us his history, warts and all, revealing that there was much pain, many struggles, terrible family problems, and even a sword that would not depart from David’s house. The one place David found solace was in God. It appears that his relationship with God provided not only strength and purpose for David, but eternal hope as well.
In our Christian times, we tend to think of heaven and hell a lot when it comes to our faith. Most of us who are serious about following Christ would say that our ultimate hope does not rest in finding happiness here in this world. We would point to the New Testament promises of life after death and declare that eternal life in heaven is our goal, would we not?
But let’s be honest. Do you not want a fun and satisfying life here and now? Do you not pursue earthly pleasures and entertaining events now? Why do we want our kids to get a good education and find a good job and build a good career? What provides your strength, your purposes and hopes?
Now, let’s look a little deeper: Do you trust that following Jesus Christ will actually provide you with the life you long for, or do you need other, better sources to get what you want? Do you have one foot in Christ hoping for heaven and the other foot somewhere else, hoping for “your best life NOW?”
What I’m talking about is a divided heart. Do you know what a divided heart is? A divided heart is like someone who is married but wishes they were single. It’s like someone who sees that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. It’s a Christian for whom Jesus is not enough. David had this happen to him when he saw Bathsheba. By God’s grace, David recovered. Solomon had it happen to him with his many foreign idol worshipping wives. We have no record of his recovery. A divided heart keeps you miserable. It is never satisfied, never complete, never content. A divided heart has only one cure: a decision of full devotion and commitment. Your best life is a life lived in full devotion and complete allegiance to God, your maker, Jesus Christ your Lord, the Holy Spirit, your power. The rest is details.
This is what Asaph, writer of Psalm 73 discovered. Let’s walk through this Psalm together and see how he found his way out of a divided heart.
Vs 1-3 Asaph believes God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. This is a simple statement of faith. Who is God good to? Israel, and more specifically, the pure in heart who are in Israel.
Is God good to the church? Is God good to those in the church who are pure in heart? How so? Are they free from care and worries? Are their bodies all healthy and strong? Are they free from the burden’s common to others? Are they never plagued by human ills? Do they all have lives of comfort and enjoy thrilling adventures, vacations, the latest and greatest stuff?
If that’s the meaning of God being good to you, then for some at least, God seems to be failing at His job, right?
What Asaph saw was that all these benefits and good life experiences actually seemed to be poured out not on the pure in heart who were devoted to God, but on the arrogant, prosperous wicked! What’s wrong with this picture?
Many of those who seem to have the best life now are terrible! They even scoff at God, threaten oppression, lay claim to heaven and take possession of the earth!
Look at verses 4-11. Wow! How can this be going on? Look at verse 12. This is what the wicked are like: always carefree, they increase in wealth!
Asaph is now in a quandary. He’s been brought up to believe God is good to the pure in heart so Asaph has worked really, really hard at doing just that: keeping his heart pure, and washing his hands in innocence. But what has it gotten him and what does this observation do to his heart? Look at verses 13-14.
Now, think about this: Asaph is a mature Jewish man. He’s a writer of scripture, a leading man of faith. But how does he handle the pressure of living in a world where wicked wealthy people seem to have the good life and he is left outside with the underdogs? Folks, if this is true of a mature man of faith, what will such things do to our kids? How can they possibly hold up under such pressure? Telling a 12 – 17 year old that God is good to the pure in heart, when all his or her friends are swimming in the thrills of raunchiness and worldly pleasures and having a blast… what’s that going to do to their hearts?
Asaph – verse 15. If I had talked like this I would have betrayed your children! What does he mean here? Asaph is saying that he’s struggling with a divided heart, but he dare not share this or it will spread the discouragement and disillusionment to others. Yet, does Asaph not do this very thing? Does he not speak these very thoughts? Yes, but not until he has found resolution to His struggle.
Verses 16-17 When I tried to understand all this it was oppressive to me, until I entered the sanctuary of God, then I understood! Then I realized their final destiny.
The truth is, God does do something about the wicked. When their time comes, it happens suddenly and irreversibly. Psalm 73:18-20 are true. Even Job, who declared chapter 21, also declared chapter 27. I don’t have time to read those, but you can see how Job like Asaph struggled with this and concluded the same thing. Psalm 1 is true: the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. But the righteous will have to stand with God during trials of oppression from the prosperous wicked. Devotion and faithfulness are both tested and strengthened through trials.
Vs. 21-26 Asaph comes to his senses and begins a series of confessions and recommitments to God.
Vs. 27 declares the end of the wicked. God is fully in charge and God has the final say.
Is God worth it? Is Jesus’ sacrifice for us worth suffering for? Do you, at times, find yourself being a Christian, but wishing you were not? That’s a divided heart. Will you take to heart God’s word to you in this Psalm?
The way Asaph escaped a divided heart was through choosing to love God, even if his heart and flesh fail. Being near God is the ultimate definition of “good.” That’s it. The rest is details.