corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
Psalms 73



Verses 1-28

Psalm 73:1-28

Psalm 73:1-28 begins with an affirmation of a basic foundational truth concerning God.

Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart ( Psalm 73:1 ).

It is important that we have basic foundational truths that are undergirding us. Because we, all of us, are going to face experiences of life that we will not understand. Hard, painful experiences. Experiences that will challenge God"s goodness and God"s love. If God is good, then why did God allow this tragedy to happen to me? If God loves me, then why would He allow me to have to experience this heartache? I do not understand all of the things that happen to me in life. And I have made it a practice, whenever I am faced with a situation that I cannot understand, I fall back on what I do understand. There are certain foundational truths upon which I fall back when I am faced with circumstances that I cannot understand in my life. And what I do understand is that God is good, that God loves me, and that all things are working together for good to those who love God. And thus, by faith I accept my adverse circumstances. Though I don"t understand them, I accept them, knowing that it is God that has brought these circumstances. It is God who is in the control of my life. For I have committed my life to Him. And I know that God is working in these circumstances. Though they may seem bitter and adverse, yet God is working a good and perfect plan in my life. And I just live with it. I just accept, "Oh Lord, I"ll just leave this with You, that You will bring out of this Your good purpose and Your good plan for me." If I did not have the basic foundations underneath, then when the troubles come, when I get into these kind of circumstances, I would be totally wiped out.

And you do see people that they seem to be really going great in their walk with the Lord, and then adversity arises, and they just can"t seem to handle the adversity. The reason is that they have not really had a solid foundation in scriptural truth. These people who are being encouraged to believe God for healing in all circumstances, that give no place for any sickness, when sickness does come, or when death does come, they are not able to handle it, because they don"t have a proper foundation in God"s Word and in the truth. And thus, when the superstructure is shaken, they have got nothing to fall back on.

Jesus said, "A foolish man built his house upon the sand. A wise man built his house upon the rock. And the rain came and the floods rose, the house that was built upon the sand perished, but the house that was built upon the rock stood." Luke"s gospel tells us that, "The wise man dug deep and built his house upon the rock." And it is important that we lay a good foundation for our relationship with God, and that good foundation has to be based upon proper concepts of God that are brought to us through the Word of God.

So, God is good. I know that. I must remember that. Because that truth will be challenged by the experiences of my life. But underneath, I know that God is good. So the psalmist begins with that basic foundation. I know that God is good,

But as for me [different story], my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped ( Psalm 73:2 ).

I"d almost had it. I was almost nigh wiped out. I was slipping. I was going under.

For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked ( Psalm 73:3 ).

We are told in the law not to covet. In the New Testament we are told that envy is one of the works of the flesh. It is easy if I get my eyes off of God and onto people to become envious at the prosperity of the wicked.

It would be exciting to have your own personal jet. It would be exciting to have a yacht all equipped and ready to go any time you went down to the dock. They would salute you and bring out your chair, you know, and you would say, "I want to go to Catalina this weekend, or let"s go to Baja, or something." And just to have the whole thing where you had that kind of power and possessions. To have a beautiful estate with manicured grounds. And you see these kind of things. And when we have a hard time paying our rent, we think, "It"s not fair that those people can spend two million dollars for a stupid painting, and I can"t buy a Big Mac." And we begin to be envious of the prosperity of the wicked. "Here I am, Lord. I love You. I go to church faithfully. I pray. I pay my vows. I am obedient. And yet, I have this hardship. Yet, I seem to always be in trouble. Financial problems. My kids are sick. And here are these people; they don"t even think about You. They blaspheme Your name. They are ungodly. They are unrighteous. And yet, they are blessed. They are prosperous. They have more than their heart could wish." And you start looking around at the iniquities within the world, and it is difficult to handle. It would seem that if God is good, He would bless good people and smite the wicked.

"I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." And then he begins to express the things that he was observing. Yet, it must be recognized and admitted that the things that he is saying about the wicked are not always true. But Satan has a way of putting and planting a thought in our minds and then building on it. And as he begins to build this thought in our minds, he begins to exaggerate the thing. So we begin to make rash statements of generalization that aren"t really true. But I don"t want you to tell me they"re not true. I don"t want you to tell me I am generalizing, because I am upset and I want to just blow the thing, you know, blow it up bigger than it really is. And we do have a tendency when we are upset to blow the situation to a greater degree than is actually true. But that"s just one of the games that Satan plays in our minds.

There are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued as other men ( Psalm 73:4-5 ).

Now, this is not true. Wicked people have weakness; they become sick. They become infirmed just like everybody else. Look at Howard Hughes. Now, I don"t mean to infer that he is wicked, but he didn"t have any real testimony that I ever heard of real faith in trusting God. There were bands in his death. There were years of drugs addiction. He did have troubles; he was plagued. And yet, you pick out isolated cases and then you exaggerate that.

Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; and violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than their heart could wish. And yet these men are corrupt, they speak wickedly: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens [they speak against God], and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: waters of a full cup are wrung out to them ( Psalm 73:6-10 ).

They"ve got all they could ever wish, but yet people are always bringing them gifts and catering to them.

And they say, How doth God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High? ( Psalm 73:11 )

In other words, they deny the existence of God.

Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; and they increase with riches ( Psalm 73:12 ).

Now the psalmist, upon looking at this and upon building this case in his mind, was led to false conclusions. And that, of course, is always the purpose that Satan has in building up in your mind situations like this. The purpose is to lead you to false conclusions. The false conclusion that the psalmist was led to is,

Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain ( Psalm 73:13 ),

Or, it doesn"t pay to try to live the right kind of a life. It doesn"t pay to be good. It doesn"t pay to seek to be righteous. The wicked are the ones that get all the breaks. The wicked are the ones that have it made. It doesn"t really pay to try to live right.

I have washed my hands in innocency. For all day long I am plagued, I am chastened every morning ( Psalm 73:13-14 ).

I"ve got problems surrounding me all the time.

Now if I say, I speak thus; then I would offend against the generation of thy children. And when I sought to know this, it was too painful for me ( Psalm 73:15-16 );

Life does have painful experiences. And there are some things that are so painful we don"t like to think about them. In fact, there are some things that are so painful we"ve got to somehow put them out of our minds. "When I sought to know this, when I sought to understand the things in my life, it was just too painful. I couldn"t do it."

It is wrong to think that you are going to understand everything that happens in your life. Why it happened. We always seek and search for the rationale. Why God allowed a Christian lady to be raped and murdered in her own home. And so we try to rationalize. You can"t. There is no way we can understand that. We know that God is good. Why God would allow that, we don"t know. We can"t understand that. There is no sense of trying to pretend that we do. There are many experiences that we will face in life that we do not understand. The ways of God, or the whys of God.

And so often a person comes up and says to me, "Chuck, I don"t know why God... " And I say, "Don"t go any further. I don"t either." I don"t know the whys of God. I am not God. I can"t tell you why God allows certain things. When I was first in the ministry I was under a heavy, heavy burden, because I felt I had to have an answer for everybody, because I was young. I had people ask me questions, and I had to have an answer, even if I didn"t know one. I had to figure one out, frame one. Under all kinds of pressure to give answers. I was trying to answer why God was doing various things. Thank God now that I am older people don"t expect me to know everything anymore. So I have a lot of questions that people ask me and I just flatly answer, "I don"t know." And it has been so comfortable since I have matured to the place where I can answer honestly and say, "I don"t know." I don"t know all of the answers. Far from it. I do not know the whys of God. It"s very hard, because I do represent God to people as a minister of Jesus Christ; I seek to represent Him. And people say, "But why did God allow this to happen to my little girl? Why did God allow this to happen to my wife?" I don"t know. Painful. I seek to understand it. It is too painful for me.

And so the psalmist, his foot was slipping. He was almost gone. As his mind was dealing with these things, it just about wiped him out.

Until I went into the sanctuary of God; and then I saw their end ( Psalm 73:17 ).

Going into the sanctuary of God gave to him a broadened perspective, and that is always the chief value of coming into the house of God. The chief value of gathering together with the Word of God is that we come into the consciousness of the eternal and our perspective is broadened. Because my problem in trying to deal with the issues of my life is that I am always looking at them in the narrow perspective of today, tomorrow and next week. The present discomfort that I feel. The present sorrow that I experience. The present hardship that I am going through. And I am always interested in immediate relief from this present situation. From the pain or the grief or the hurt. Whereas, when God is dealing in my life, He is dealing with the eternal in view. God is looking down into eternity, and He is looking at the eternal values. And it is better for me to go through life maimed and enter eternity with Him than to go through life whole and to go to hell. And because God is dealing with eternity in view, sometimes He has to take away from me that which I count dear, that which I hold precious, in order that He might work in my life His eternal purpose and plan. But I am always looking at just the fact that I have lost it. I don"t want to lose it, you know. I wanted that. "Oh God, why did You take it away?" And God could see what it was doing in detracting me from my walk and fellowship with Him, and thus, He removed it. Because He was interested in my eternal well being.

And when I come into the sanctuary of God, coming into the consciousness of the eternal, then I see things in a clearer perspective. Where I see them now in the eternal. As Paul said, "We look not at the things which are seen; they are temporal. We look at the things which are not seen, because they are eternal. And the present sufferings then are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is going to be revealed in us. Even Jesus, who for the joy, the eternal joy that was set before Him endured the cross, even though He despised the shame." And sometimes I am given a cross that I despise. I don"t want to carry it. Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. I don"t want to go through this experience. I don"t want to suffer this loss. And yet, God lays it upon me, because He is looking down to the glory that shall be revealed. He is looking down the line to the eternal benefit and welfare that He has in mind for me in His eternal kingdom.

And so the psalmist almost tripped up, until he went into the sanctuary of God and then he got the broader view.

Surely you did set them in slippery places: you cast them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors ( Psalm 73:18-19 ).

This is a portion of the text that Jonathan Edwards used in his sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Perhaps one of the most powerful sermons that has ever been preached on the American continent, by old Jonathan Edwards, a puritan. He was nearsighted, and he had written the sermon out and he had to read it just right up close, because he was nearsighted. But that sermon was so powerful, before he was finished, sinners were crawling down the isles, crying out in agony, begging God for mercy. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." He took this, "Surely though has set them in slippery places," and he likened to sinners as walking on an icy plank over the pit of hell with nothing to hold on to. At any moment your foot is going to slip and you will be plunged on into destruction. God is under no obligation to keep you alive. God is under no obligation to hold you up.

So the psalmist saw the end of the life of wickedness. It"s not so good. It"s not so pleasant. Oh, how foolish to envy them. Look what their destiny is. How foolish to be jealous of them. Look what is in store. "They are consumed with terrors."

As a dream when one awakes; so, O Lord, when you awake, you will despise their image. Thus my heart was grieved ( Psalm 73:20-21 ),

I was grieved with my own stupidity, with my own folly. Imagine about to be tripped up over something like that.

O my how foolish I was, and ignorant: I was like a beast before you ( Psalm 73:22 ).

That is, without reasoning capacities, without logic. I was just like an animal with no reasoning capacities.

For nevertheless [here I was envious of them, but they are devoid of you,] I am with you continually: you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and at the end you"re going to receive me into glory ( Psalm 73:23-24 ).

Oh, what a wonderful life I really have. God is with me, holding me by the right hand, guiding me with His counsel. And when I get to the end of the road, He is going to receive me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? There is none on earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart fails: 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"s good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in Jehovah God, that I may declare all thy works ( Psalm 73:25-28 ).

The psalmist almost slipped, but he discovered that the wicked was the one who was really in slippery places. Not him. "


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.

Bibliography Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 73:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology