“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26).
Psalm 73 is at first a song of discontent. The psalmist, Asaph, can’t help but be envious when he looks at the wicked and contrasts their lives of ease to his apparently troubled one. He voices the age-old question: Why do the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer? He is honest in his complaints, but he doesn’t remain in them long. By the end of the psalm, he is rejoicing in God.
But how did he get there from his original state of depression? The first clue is in the opening verse of the psalm: “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart” (v. 1). Asaph is aware that God is good to those who love Him and obey His commands. Yet he cannot keep from examining the lives of his wicked neighbors and wondering how God can let them continue to prosper. “They are not in trouble as others are,” he complains; “they are not stricken like the rest of mankind” (v. 5). He knows God is righteous and that He sees the evil all across the earth. Why then does He do nothing?
Asaph at last turns to intense prayer, entering into the sanctuary of God to voice his complaints. When he does, he suddenly gains understanding. “Truly you set them in slippery places,” he realizes; “you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!” (vv. 18-19). God has not forgotten the evildoers. He is not blind to their deeds. Rather, He is waiting for the right moment to enact justice. Though they think their steps are secure, they are really hovering over the edge of a precipice. At any moment, they could fall.
For those who love and obey God, however, the opposite is true. “Nevertheless, I am continually with you,” Asaph marvels; “you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory” (vv.23-24). God walks with His children, holding our hand as He guides us through the path He has set out for us. It may not be as pleasant to the sight as the way in which the wicked walk, but at its end is glory—the glory of God.
“For behold,” Asaph concludes, “those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works” (vv.27-28). And so he has departed from his envy and turned to rejoicing, knowing that his lot is forever blessed, because he walks with God Himself. How could anyone ever ask for anything better?