Miles to go...

I have miles to go... please pray each day for the next leg of my Biblical journey!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 42: Why Do Bad People Win?

Father & Child, by Woders777  (

Psalm 73:1-5

New Living Translation (NLT)

Book Three (Psalms 73–89)

Psalm 73

A psalm of Asaph.

Truly God is good to Israel,
    to those whose hearts are pure.
But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
    My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
For I envied the proud
    when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
They seem to live such painless lives;
    their bodies are so healthy and strong.
They don’t have troubles like other people;
    they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.


Have you ever known someone who was very accomplished, and whose work was well known, but who had a name that was easily forgotten? That's Asaph. He was a very important person in Biblical history, although when thinking of all the important people of the Bible, he doesn't usually come to mind.

He was the brother of the prophet Zechariah, and was appointed as Chief Musician by King David, as the superior "officer" over the other music directors. In all likelihood he probably composed all the music for David's many lyrics. So it's no wonder that he wrote a few songs of his own.   

His position lasted throughout the rein of Solomon, and he witnessed first-hand how the wisest man on earth spiraled out of control and became a wicked king whose actions brought on the division of the nation of Israel.

So why has he captured my attention? Because he's so human! It never ceases to amaze me just how similar we are to all our ancient ancestors. Our basic nature just never really changes, does it? Asaph was a Levite, and he took his commitment to God very seriously. And yet, just as most of us have at some point or other, he questioned why God would allow bad people to prosper, and why He didn't seem to punish them the way He chastises His own children.

From the very beginning of the first psalm recorded as his writing, Psalm 73, Asaph admitted he had become a bit obsessed with this question, and had grown envious of people who could care less about God, and yet who never seemed to get what they deserved.  He spoke bitterly of how they were rich, proud, and heartless people who got everything handed to them on a silver platter. 

He questions whether he had spent his entire life serving God faithfully for nothing. He complains that if he had behaved the way other people do, he would have been considered a hypocritical fraud! Try as he might, he just couldn't grasp why such a just God would sit idly by and do nothing about it.

But Asaph knew that such a line of reasoning was wrong. He came right out and said that he almost lost his footing, and had begun a slippery descent that was almost his undoing.  But he finally spent some time with God, and figured out the answer to his question.

If you're like me, you've probably asked the same question about a million times. So far, if God has answered me, there's been too much other background noise going on for me to hear. so I'll just take Asaph's word for it as to the reason. He said that he realized that the destiny of the wicked was that God had put them on a slippery path, and that eventually they'd slide right off the edge of the cliff. Basically God was giving them the rope to hang themselves, and that inevitably, they were going to be destroyed. They would be eternally separated from God. In that day, he said, God will laugh at their foolishness the way we laugh off a bad dream. 

That's nice to know, right? But do you know what is even more important to Asaph than finally having his question answered? It was the realization that he'd come so close to slipping over that cliff's edge, too!  His attitude had gotten pretty rotten, and he had nearly turned his back on God because he had let envy and bitterness eat away at him like a cancer. He must have marveled at God's patience, His willingness to reveal the answer to his questions, because he finished the psalm with these thoughts:

Psalm 73:21-28

New Living Translation (NLT)
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
    and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.
27 Those who desert him will perish,
    for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
    and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

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