Lost Perspective and the Importance of Remembrance to Keep us on the Right Path
The following is a study of Psalm 73 and while I have included the entire chapter here, my focus of the study was on verses 1-3 and 13-28. Psalm 73:26 has been one of my key verses in this season that God is taking me through, but when I went back to study the entire Psalm, I gained an even better perspective on its meaning and how beneficial that insight was to me right now. I hope that as you read this Psalm and this study, it will encourage you, as it has me; to regain a proper perspective through remembrance of who God is and His faithfulness to those who trust Him.
Psalm 73 (New Living Translation)
1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure.
2. But as for me, I came so close to the edge of the cliff! My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
3. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
4.They seem to live such a painless life; their bodies are so healthy and strong.
5. They aren’t troubled like other people or plagued with problems like everyone else.
6. They wear pride like a jeweled necklace, and their clothing is woven of cruelty.
7. These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for!
8. They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others.
9. They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth.
10. And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words.
11. “Does God realize what is going on?” they ask. “Is the Most High even aware of what is happening?”
12. Look at these arrogant people - enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13. Was it for nothing that I kept my heart pure and kept myself from doing wrong?
14. All I get is trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.
15. If I had really spoken this way, I would have been a traitor to your people.
16. So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper: but what a difficult task it is!
17. Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I thought about the destiny of the wicked.
18. Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19. In an instant they are destroyed, swept away by terrors.
20. Their present life is only a dream that is gone when they awake. When you arise, O Lord, you will make them vanish from this life.
21. Then I realized how bitter I had become, how pained I had been by all I had seen.
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 are holding my right hand.
24. You will keep on guiding 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. But 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.
As I thought about this Psalm, I wondered about a few things? Who was Asaph, other than the writer of this Psalm, and is there anything in Scripture about what his life was like? We know a lot about David; he was very famous, but Asaph not so much. I searched online and found out, through Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/A/ASAPH/) that Asaph was one of David’s three chief musicians. It doesn’t get into the kind of life he had or what troubles he endured, but from reading this passage of scripture it is clear that life was not at all easy for him. However, the fact that he was chosen to be in such an esteemed position under David’s rule says a lot. I’m sure he also learned a lot from witnessing David’s life and his relationship with God.
Asaph was a man who was honest with God about his feelings and his disappointments, much like David. He seemed to always face challenges that brought pain to his heart and discouragement. He also seemed to have reached the point where he’d gotten tired of the struggle, tired of always trying to do the right thing and, to him; it appeared that it was not getting him anywhere good. Meanwhile, as he compared his life to the wicked, he really began to get despondent and lose perspective. The more he looked at the wicked, who seemed to have it good (prospering); the more he wanted that instead. He was tired and ready to fall away. He was reaching the end with possibly no hope of coming back. As he continued to reflect, he was able to be honest and admit his envy and bitterness and he only shared that with God, because he know how bad it would sound to others, like he was ready to go to the other side. What’s important is that he could admit to himself and to God where he was at and what was really going on in his heart.
Sometimes it is necessary to come close to the edge with life, because that is where you’re more inclined to take a good, hard look at what is going on in your life. It is important to look inward in order to find your way out. Asaph did this and he came to a few very important conclusions, and this happened when he went to a safe place…the sanctuary…the house of God. There he reflected on what was true about the plight of the wicked. He remembered that God would rise up at some point and deliver justice to the wicked. Another important realization he made was that he had become bitter by looking at the surface of things. By looking only at the way the situation seemed on the outside, he lost perspective and began to compare his life to the wicked and he lost sight of the greater truth.
As he finally turned his eyes back to where they belonged, looking to God, and beyond this present existence; his focus was brought back in line. He recognized his flawed thinking, remembered that God hadn’t left him and that God was actually holding him up and sustaining him. He also remembered that God was, in fact, guiding him and leading him to a very important and “glorious destiny”. He regained his perspective and along with that, hope and a recognition of his deepest desire…that God was all he really wanted and needed in this life. Nothing else could take God’s place in his life.
He also recognized that, yes, in this present life the body may deteriorate beyond what one expects and it can be easy to be weakened at heart when this happens; however, his strength and ability to endure come from God alone! AND, more importantly, that God is his forever. So, no matter what else comes and goes in his life, no matter how much his body fails him and no matter how much pain he experiences, physically and otherwise; God is still there to hold him up and He always will be.
Those are some significant realizations, and if we, as God’s children, choose to remember that ourselves and take it to heart; we can overcome our own challenges in life and not end up falling away from God when things seem too tough. Having this realization helps us to remember good things about God; His love, His mercy, His faithfulness and His desire to bring us to our destiny and bless us. In this way, God becomes our place of safety and we can depend on Him to protect us, provide for us and to finish the work of transformation He started in us.
Finally, when we come to this realization and we choose to remember who God is, what our place is with Him and that He is working in our lives to bring us to our destiny; then we can go through our days with hope and joy. We can then share with others this hope we have and what God has done in our lives. This is extremely encouraging to me. It lets me know that no matter how far off the deep end I feel I’m getting sometimes, when I lose perspective and start to focus on the problems, the pain and begin to think that it is never going to change; I can always find my way back. If I look to God and depend on Him to be my all, my sight can become clear again. The discipline of refocusing through reflection and remembrance, is something that no one can take away from me. Thanks be to God for the powerful gift of remembrance.