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BOOK III

(Psalms 73–89)

Psalm 73

Plea for Relief from Oppressors

A Psalm of Asaph.

1

Truly God is good to the upright,

to those who are pure in heart.

2

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;

my steps had nearly slipped.

3

For I was envious of the arrogant;

I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

 

4

For they have no pain;

their bodies are sound and sleek.

5

They are not in trouble as others are;

they are not plagued like other people.

6

Therefore pride is their necklace;

violence covers them like a garment.

7

Their eyes swell out with fatness;

their hearts overflow with follies.

8

They scoff and speak with malice;

loftily they threaten oppression.

9

They set their mouths against heaven,

and their tongues range over the earth.

 

10

Therefore the people turn and praise them,

and find no fault in them.

11

And they say, “How can God know?

Is there knowledge in the Most High?”

12

Such are the wicked;

always at ease, they increase in riches.

13

All in vain I have kept my heart clean

and washed my hands in innocence.

14

For all day long I have been plagued,

and am punished every morning.

 

15

If I had said, “I will talk on in this way,”

I would have been untrue to the circle of your children.

16

But when I thought how to understand this,

it seemed to me a wearisome task,

17

until I went into the sanctuary of God;

then I perceived their end.

18

Truly you set them in slippery places;

you make them fall to ruin.

19

How they are destroyed in a moment,

swept away utterly by terrors!

20

They are like a dream when one awakes;

on awaking you despise their phantoms.

 

21

When my soul was embittered,

when I was pricked in heart,

22

I was stupid and ignorant;

I was like a brute beast toward you.

23

Nevertheless I am continually with you;

you hold my right hand.

24

You guide me with your counsel,

and afterward you will receive me with honor.

25

Whom have I in heaven but you?

And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.

26

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

 

27

Indeed, those who are far from you will perish;

you put an end to those who are false to you.

28

But for me it is good to be near God;

I have made the Lord God my refuge,

to tell of all your works.


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Ps 73:1-28. Of Asaph—(see Introduction). God is good to His people. For although the prosperity of the wicked, and the afflictions of the righteous, tempted the Psalmist to misgivings of God's government, yet the sudden and fearful ruin of the ungodly, seen in the light of God's revelation, reassures his heart; and, chiding himself for his folly, he is led to confide renewedly in God, and celebrate His goodness and love.

1. The abrupt announcement of the theme indicates that it is the conclusion of a perplexing mental conflict, which is then detailed (compare Jer 12:1-4).

Truly—or, "Surely it is so."

clean heart—(Ps 18:26) describes the true Israel.

2. The figures express his wavering faith, by terms denoting tottering and weakness (compare Ps 22:5; 62:3).

3-9. The prosperous wicked are insolently proud (compare Ps 5:5). They die, as well as live, free from perplexities: pride adorns them, and violence is their clothing; indeed they are inflated with unexpected success. With all this—

8. They are corrupt—or, literally, "they deride," they speak maliciously and arrogantly and invade even heaven with blasphemy (Re 13:6), and cover earth with slanders (Job 21:7-14).

10-12. Hence God's people are confounded, turned hither (or back) and thither, perplexed with doubts of God's knowledge and care, and filled with sorrow.

12. prosper in the word—literally, "secure for ever."

13, 14. The Psalmist, partaking of these troubles, is especially disturbed in view of his own case, that with all his diligent efforts for a holy life, he is still sorely tried.

15. Freed from idiomatic phrases, this verse expresses a supposition, as, "Had I thus spoken, I should," &c., intimating that he had kept his troubles to himself.

generation of thy children—Thy people (1Jo 3:1).

offend—literally, "deceive, mislead."

16, 17. Still he—

thought—literally, "studied," or, "pondered this riddle"; but in vain; it remained a toil (compare Margin), till he—

17. went into the sanctuary—to enquire (compare Ex 25:22; Ps 5:7; 27:4).

18-20. their end—future (Ps 37:37, 38), which is dismal and terribly sudden (Pr 1:27; 29:1), aggravated and hastened by terror. As one despises an unsubstantial dream, so God, waking up to judgment (Ps 7:6; 44:23), despises their vain shadow of happiness (Ps 39:6; Isa 29:7). They are thrown into ruins as a building falling to pieces (Ps 74:3).

21, 22. He confesses how—

foolish—literally, "stupid," and

ignorant—literally, "not discerning," had been his course of thought.

22. before thee—literally, "with Thee," in conduct respecting Thee.

23. Still he was with God, as a dependent beneficiary, and so kept from falling (Ps 73:2).

24. All doubts are silenced in confidence of divine guidance and future glory.

receive me to glory—literally, "take for (me) glory" (compare Ps 68:18; Eph 4:8).

25, 26. God is his only satisfying good.

26. strength—literally, "rock" (Ps 18:2).

portion—(Ps 16:5; La 3:24).

27, 28. The lot of apostates, described by a figure of frequent use (Jer 3:1, 3; Eze 23:35), is contrasted with his, who finds happiness in nearness to God (Jas 4:8), and his delightful work the declaration of His praise.




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