Today’s devotion: Psalm 73 – A Psalm for Today
Psalm 73:6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. (NIV)
If you’ve never read Psalm 73 in its entirety, then I recommend that you do so. It relates the experience of a faithful worshipper who is driven to despair because of the threats, arrogance, and violence of the wicked. He has served God all of His life, so he expects things to be fair and just. All around him, however, powerful people are using their positions of authority to suppress the faithful; they are callous and hard-hearted; they do not care about those beneath them and they publicly proclaim their brazen and haughty ways.
This causes the psalmist to question his faith in God. If so many unrepentant people are permitted to control the community, then why doesn’t God do something about it? Have the wicked won and the violent been given victory? Is there any point in believing in goodness or seeking justice? Have the scoffers manipulated the people with their malice? Have the thugs cowered the community into silence because of their threats? Those are the questions that the psalmist ponders and makes him wonder if God has lost control.
I guess we all know those feelings and have asked very similar questions. Those who resort to violence and make threats against their opponents, who are unrepentant and seek to subdue others with iron fists and loaded rifles seem to have gained the upper hand. They even use Christ and faith to justify their hostile and antagonistic ways. Anyone who opposes them is deemed less than human; everyone who does not follow their ways becomes a target. This, however, is inhumane and the complete opposite of what Christ called His followers to apply and live by each day. His personal command for Christians to love God by loving one another is ignored by the wicked and is replaced with ‘God takes care of those who take care of themselves.’
Toward the end of Psalm 73, the psalmist realizes that those who are hateful, violent, and wicked will eventually destroy themselves. God will judge them for every careless and callous word and they will be condemned for their wickedness. As the psalmist states in verse eighteen: Surely you (God) place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
The psalmist’s faith has returned to him after wrestling with God and these questions. He understands that God sees, hears, and knows everything, so there will be no defense for those who persist in being callous, hostile, and wicked. Their violence will their own undoing; their faithlessness will condemn them forever. Psalm 73 closes with these grave words:
27-28 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
May God help and guide us to understand His ways and lead us away from self-righteous and uncompassionate words and deeds. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
If you would like to read all of Psalm 73, here is a link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+73&version=NIV