*** When Life Doesn’t Seem To Be Fair ***
The writer of Psalm 73 begins with a conclusion, which is kind of unusual. They say that a good speech is one that has a good introduction and a good conclusion which are as close together as possible. But this writer begins with a conclusion. If he hadn’t begun with this conclusion, you might have assumed that he was an unbeliever. Here is his conclusion in Psalm 73:1. “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.”
He didn’t jump to this conclusion. No one should jump to conclusions. “There once was a dog named August, who was jumping at conclusions. One day he jumped at the conclusion of a mule: that was the last day of August!”
The Psalmist was not jumping to conclusions. After giving this matter a lot of thought, he says, “God is good.” God is good all the time. But the devil wants to get you thinking negatively about God. If he can do that, he’s opened you up to all kinds of mischief. So remember, God is good, no matter what.
The Psalmist not only begins with a conclusion; he begins with a confession. Verse 2 says, “But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped.” He had almost backslidden and turned away from the faith. He got to thinking, “Does it really pay to serve Jesus? Is Jesus fair? I’ve tried to serve God, but what good has it done me?” He’s almost slipped, but he hasn’t slipped altogether. Thank God for that.
The sister to Psalm 73 is Psalm 37. Just number them in reverse. In Psalm 37:23-24 it says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.”
This man saw four things that I want you to see, and you’re going to need these things in these last days. We are now living in a time when it is open season on Christians. Persecution, disappointment, troubles, heartaches, tears…..they are all going to increase and you’re going to begin to wonder, “What’s gone wrong?”
The first thing the Psalmist saw was the prosperity of the sinners. Look at Psalm 73:3. “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
Only a fool envies a fool. And the Psalmist confesses this. He says in verses 3-10, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plaqued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about like a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.”
In other words, these people get to taste the last drop of life. The Psalmist is a believer who has been serving God, but he’s looking around now. He sees the plenty and the possessions of the sinners. But learn this: not all godly people are poor, and not all ungodly people are rich. This just happens to be what this man has his eyes on. He just picked out some prosperous wicked people and set his eyes upon them.
But not only does he see the prosperity of the sinners; he sees the peace of the sinners. Verse 4 says, “For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.” In other words, they die an easy death. You’d think that they’d be crying out to God for mercy, but they die with a smile on their face.
If a man doesn’t understand the judgment that’s coming, he’ll live high, wide and handsome. The Psalmist looks at this and says, “Look at their prosperity and peacefulness.”
Then he sees the pride of the sinners. Verse 6 says, “Therefore pride compasseth them about like a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.” They wear their pride like a gold chain around their neck. They’re so arrogant that they can strut while sitting down! The Psalmist says, “Look how violent they are….and they live for self alone.”
Then he notices the pleasures of the sinners. Verse 7 says, “Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.” They have stuff in the garage, and stuff in the attic, and stuff in all their closets and they’ve got money in the bank! The Psalmist says, “That fat cat! He doesn’t need all that stuff! Here I am trying to serve God and I have to try to beat my checks down to the bank to keep from being overdrawn. Where’s all these Cadillac’s and cash these charismatic joy boys keep talking about on TV?”
Then he sees the perversity of the sinners. Verse 8 says, “They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.” They are rotten through and through and they are corrupt.
Then he sees the pomposity of the sinners. Verse 9 says, “They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.” These are people with a walking tongue. I’ve never heard such arrogance and pomposity as I hear today in a society that has no fear of God. The Psalmist sees this, too.
But then he sees the profanity of the sinners. Again in verse 9 he says, “They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.” They take God’s name in vain. He sees all this and says, “God, this isn’t fair! These are wicked people!”
If you’re not careful, you’ll become just like this man. You’ll take your eyes off of Jesus and you’ll put your eyes on the sins of those for whom Jesus died. And you’ll begin to think negatively about God. And if you’re not careful, your feet will begin to slip.
First, he sees the prosperity of the sinners. This is compounded by the problems of the saints. If the sinner prospered and the saint did, too, it might be alright.
He’s been looking outward, but now he begins to look inward. Look at Psalm 73:13-15. “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.”
This man is beginning to drink from the intoxicating cup of self-pity. He’s beginning to feel sorry for himself. Look at how many times he uses the words, “I” and “me” and “my.” He’s egocentric and he’s having a pity party with I, myself and me.
Why is he feeling sorry for himself? He had a cleansed life. It’s not that he’s harboring sin in his heart. He says, “I’ve cleansed my heart….in vain.” In other words, “What good did it do?” He had come to God and he’d confessed and cleansed his heart.
He also had a chastened life. Verse 14 says, “For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.” You’d think that if a man had a clear conscience before God, and if he had a cleansed life and was living in innocence, that God would be pouring our blessings upon him. But he says, “I don’t get blessings: I get chastened. Every morning it begins all over again.” He’s expecting joy and happiness, but it didn’t come. Why?
Folks, God deals with the devil’s crowd on a credit basis, but He deals with His own children on a cash basis. If you’re a child of God, He’ll chastise you whenever you need it. It may be a correcting discipline or something that will cause you to grow. David said in another Psalm, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes.” Sometimes, the only way we can see clearly is through eyes that have been cleansed with tears.
Yes, sometimes God will chastise us because we have done wrong. That’s not a sign that He doesn’t love us. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For whom the Father loves He chastens.”
Does God step in and chastise these people who are arrogant, lost, and living high, wide and handsome? No. As a matter of fact, God may step away from them. Three times in Romans 1 it says, “God gave them up, God gave them up, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.” In Romans 2:5 God says, “After thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” In other words, you’re putting wrath in the bank, waiting for it to come due, and one day judgment will come.
You may be an unsaved person here this morning and you’re thinking, “I get along better than my Christian neighbors.” Sure you do. God’s not going to touch you now. “Whom the Lord loves, He chastens.”
Your kids may be playing with the neighbor’s kids when they get into something they’re not supposed to. You can call your kids in and give them a little peach tree tea! But especially in this sue-happy day, you’d better not whip the neighbor’s kids! You don’t touch them because they’re not yours. The Lord scourges every son whom He receives and loves.
If you can live in sin and God doesn’t chastise you for it; don’t boast about that. God deals with the devil’s crowd later. They’re just storing up wrath against the day of wrath. But if you’re a child of God, God will chasten you right now. The Psalmist says, “Every morning if you need it.”
He had a cleansed life, he had a chastened life; but he also had a confused life. Verse 15 says, “If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.”
He says, “I can’t even stand up in church and tell people how I feel about these fat cats who don’t serve God and yet they prosper, because if I did, I would offend them. Verse 16 says, “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me.” In other words, “I just can’t figure it out.”
First, there is the prosperity of the sinner. Secondly, there are the problems of the saints. Thirdly, he saw the perspective of the sanctuary. Verses 16-17 say, “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.” You should circle the word “until.”
Look at verses 18-20. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.” When he goes to church he gets a new perspective.
Do you know what’s wrong with this man? He’s been missing the worship services. Hebrews 10:25 tells us that we’re not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, and so much the more as we see the day of the Lord approaching. The closer we get to the Second Coming of Jesus, the more we need one another.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve preached messages that I knew would help someone in the congregation, but they allowed the devil to keep them out of the worship service that day, so they missed their help.
This man had been missing church and had been away from the presence of the Lord. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
You are richer, stronger and more full of faith for just having been here this morning. You are better just because you’ve heard the singing, and seen the smiles, and gotten the hugs, and felt the glory of God. There’s something about the perspective of the sanctuary that’s wonderful.
The Psalmist said, “When I went to church, I saw how things come out in the end.” “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.”
After he’s seen the perspective of the sanctuary, he realizes how foolish he’s been. Look at verse 21. “Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.” In other words, “I’m ashamed of myself for thinking this way about God.”
Look at verse 22. “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.” In other words, “God, what a dumb donkey I was! Here I am like a dumb beast envying fools!”
When life doesn’t seem fair, you might look around and see the prosperity of the sinners and the problems of the saints: but if you get the perspective of the sanctuary it will end with you rejoicing in the presence of the Sovereign.
This man begins to think about what he has. Look at verse 23. “Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.”
There’s the continual presence of God. What would it mean for you and me not to have the presence of Jesus? Jesus says, “Lo, I am with you always.”
But not only is there the personal presence of Jesus; there is the power of God. Verse 23 says, “Thou hast holden me by my right hand.”
I have been preaching the Gospel for close to 40 years and God has never failed me yet. He’s brought me through some incredible things.
Next, there is the purpose of God. Verse 24 says, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel…” We aren’t like a ship without a sail on a dark and stormy night. “All the way my Savior leads me, what have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercies, who through life had been my guide? Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell, I know what ere befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.”
There is the presence, the power and the purpose of God, but there is also the promise of God. Verse 24 says, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”
Were going to Heaven! These others we’ve been jealous of are going to Hell! Why envy sinners? Just think of what we have in the Lord Jesus Christ! It will be worth it all when we see Jesus….the One who’s with us continually, the One who holds us by the right hand, the One who guides us by His counsel, and the One who receives us into glory.
The Psalmist comes to the conclusion in verses 25-28. “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.”
Friend, it pays to serve Jesus. Don’t let the devil get you to thinking negatively about God. Take your eyes off these hell-bound sinners and never be envious of them. “Though the pathway to Jesus may sometimes seem dre’er, it pays to serve Jesus each day.”
Would you give your life to Him and begin to serve Him today?