In magnetic theory, opposite poles attract, but as we looked at Psalm 73 this morning, we discovered that this is a psalm which deals with opposites and it matters very much which side we are attracted to!
1. Confusion and Clarity
The psalm begins with Asaph in confusion, feeling that he is stumbling and falling. Other psalms take the idea of walking and falling as a metaphor for our journey with God (Ps 37:23, Ps 119:105) and the feeling that we are stumbling because the wicked seem to flourish and have no problems is found in other parts of the Bible (see Job 21:7-16, Mal 3:13-15). When we see the unrighteous doing well, we can feel it’s futile to serve God, but clarity comes as we enter God’s sanctuary and come into His presence.
2. Permanent and Temporary
Asaph’s problem was he was focussed on the temporary success of the wicked, failing to see life in the light of eternity. Only when he realised the true destiny of the wicked did he find peace and hope. God’s promises are not temporary; we need to understand the permanent nature of our unchanging God and not be distracted by the temporary troubles we face (see also 2 Cor 4:16-18).
3. Time and Eternity
Asaph found that he needed to adjust his perspective. We dwell in time and therefore tend to view time as the only perspective, but God dwells in eternity and promises us so much when we can take that long view. God has promised to receive us in glory and to be our portion now and evermore. We have to take eternity into account and not view our ‘light and momentary troubles’ as permanent.
4. Judgment and Jewels
The purpose of God for the wicked is judgment, though He takes no delight in this, longing for people to repent and turn to Him. (2 Pet 3:9) Those who trust in Christ are promised a future with hope and without condemnation. In Mal 3:16-18, we read that God says His people will be His treasured possession, His jewels. We are promised a relationship with God and a reward. God views us as special; we can be spared from judgment and made to be something precious and valuable.
So often, what is required in life is the correct perspective. We need to see the ‘big picture’, not just the ‘little picture.’ When buying a house, we often focus on the house itself and what it looks like, but sometimes we need to draw back and consider the location (e.g. the street as well as the house and perhaps the whole area itself.) The only things which really matter in life are the things which are permanent, things which have eternal value. Asaph’s whole perspective was changed as He spent time in God’s presence. Ours can be too.