1 A psalm of Asaph.
Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” 12 This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. 13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20 As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterwards you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
A real problem solved
(Verse 1) An unshakable principle of God, and thus of the Bible, is that God is good, to Israel, to those who are pure in heart’. Israel is God’s special people. All those trusting Christ as personal Saviour are His spiritual Israel now. Jews must trust Christ to be saved. If they do, they are then ‘the Israel of God’ in both senses. (Galatians 6:6) To be ‘pure in heart’ you must confess the wickedness of your heart to God, thank Jesus that all your sin was borne and paid for by Him when He was nailed to the cross for you, repent from your sin, and ask Jesus to cleanse your heart and take control of it through His indwelling Holy Spirit. Is that true of you? It can be.
(Verses 2-16) Asaph’s problem here is shared by many today. Briefly, why do the wicked seem to prosper but godly folk suffer? Many are prosperous, carefree, healthy, not burdened, proud, violent, sin-hardened, evil-minded, hypocritical in speech, boasting, and openly irreverent about God. Asaph puts his case to God as a suffering godly man. He could not ‘get it’ till…
(Verse 17-20) Till what? Till he entered God’s sanctuary – the place of prayer and God’s word – and then ‘understood their final destiny.’ In Heaven, everything that Christians have suffered, however severe, seems light and worth it by comparison. In Hell, the wicked’s most pleasing things in life, however valuable and pleasing, are nothing compared to Hell’s eternal and inescapable punishment on their sins. Look long term very long term – forever!
(Verses 21-28) Asaph admits that his doubting grieving heart and bitter spirit were ‘senseless and ignorant’, like a ‘brute beast’. God is always with him, guides him now and will take him into Heaven’s glory to be with Him. When he weakens and when He dies, God is his strength and his ‘portion forever’. He belongs to God. The Sovereign LORD is his refuge. He will keep telling what his Saviour God has done!