Psalm 73 gives clear light on some of the deepest questions which meet mankind. It gives us the key to the present and future of the righteous and the wicked—of the man of faith and the man of unbelief. The notion of "do good and you will prosper" is challenged when the wicked seem to prosper more than the righteous in this life.
The key to the seeming enigma is found in this, that the man of God has God with him in time and in eternity, while the man of the world never knows God. That is the secret of the difference. It is having God with us and for us, knowing and loving and trusting Him; or it is the opposite, being wilfully ignorant of Him, that makes the immense difference, a difference as wide as heaven and hell. It is God known, loved, enjoyed, now and forever; or God rejected, hated, disowned, cast off, now and forever.
When we look at things as men look at them, we get into confusion. To see clearly, we need to see things in the light of God. When we consider the latter end of the wicked in the light of the Word, there will be no place left for being envious when we see the prosperity of the wicked. All their riches and earthly prosperity are but for a moment, as it were. But to live without God, and then to die and pass into eternity without Him—to be forever without Him, banished from Him—the awful darkness of it passes our comprehension. "Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places: Thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors" (Psalm 73:18,19). What a terrible contrast to their pride and satisfaction while on earth! The prosperity of the wicked is all around us. Men make a god of it; they seek after it, bend all their energies to secure it; and yet, when they get it, it destroys them.
How blessed the contrast: "I am continually with Thee: Thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever" (Psalm 73:23-26). Here is the secret of the matter. God is the portion of His people. To have Him with us and for us, to know His love, to know what Christ has done for us, to be guided by His counsel, and afterward received to glory—all this is true riches, durable riches; it is eternal prosperity. And to think that it is all the free gift of God, purchased for us by the death of Christ on the cross, given to whosoever will have it, without money or price. How sad that so many are losing all this blessing, spending their lives in vanity, laying up for themselves treasures of wrath and destruction!
Was the psalmist right in saying in verse 14, "All the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning"? No; his words are rather the result of his state of mind than actual experience. He was listening to the tempter, and it seemed this way to him at the time. If we turn to such scriptures as 1 Peter 1: 6,7; James 1:2-4; and Hebrews 12:11, we find that trials and chastening by no means fill up the believer's life. When we are conscious that God is holding our right hand, it makes a great difference in the effect of trials upon us. It is when a believer loses that consciousness, that everything looks bad and the soul is discouraged.
When there is a vivid consciousness that God is the strength of the heart, and our portion forever, then we can rejoice in tribulation. We must see this to get the real lesson of this precious psalm.
—From Help and Food
A busy merchant was offered a tract. He replied, "I have no time to think of such things." "Then God will give you eternity in which to think about them," was the crushing reply. We can either "think on these things" (Philippians 4:8) now, or "remember" (Luke 16:25) them for eternity.