“But for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”
I love Psalm 73. I remember distinctly when I was in college hearing this chapter preached and the impact it had on me. So from the very beginning of the Psalm, the Psalmist is saying, “I almost fell away from God. My faith almost faltered.” To use his exact words in Psalm 73, verse two, “As for me, my feet had almost stumbled. My steps had nearly slipped.” Why? Verse three, “Because I was envious of the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
Our hope is not in our comfort or wealth but in God.
In other words, the Psalmist says, “I looked around me in the world and I saw people prospering who were defying God, who were living in evil and wickedness and they were prospering.” And basically the Psalmist is saying, “I don’t get it. I’m struggling. They’re prospering and I’m the one trusting in God. I’m the one trying to live for righteousness and I see those who are living for wickedness seem to be doing well in so many different ways.” And that’s the wrestling that goes on throughout the Psalm. And he’s tired. He’s tired of the struggle. He’s tired of seeing others prosper while he doesn’t, when he’s trusting in God. He just kind of goes right at it, the idea in the Psalm that, okay, if you trust in God, everything will go well for you in this world. You’ll have your best life now and a sense of prosperity in this world.
And Psalm 73 is saying it’s not true. It’s not true. In fact, you’ll find yourself weary and tired and even questioning. If that’s where you’ve banked your faith, that through trust in God, everything will go well for you in this world, then you’re going to find yourself very empty and faltering and your feet almost slipping. But that’s what I love about the verse we just came to. And there’s some great verses before this, as the Psalmist remembers that even though he may not have prosperity in this world, he has something better. You know what that something is, more appropriately, someone is? The Psalmist has God.
Verse 23 says, “Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You hold my right hand.” I love that phrase. Just to feel the wonder of that in our lives, who know God through faith in Jesus, he is continually with us and he holds our right hand. God holds your right hand today. He guides us. Verse 23 says, “You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” What a statement!
Yes. God, bring us to this realization in our lives, we pray, that there is nothing this world can offer to us that is anywhere close, that is cumulatively close. Everything in this world put together does not compare with having you, “that you are our portion forever,” Psalm 73 verse 26, that we might say even amidst the prosperity of the wicked in the world and struggles in our lives, that we might say with the Psalmist in Psalm 73, verse 28, “As for me, it is good to be near God.”
Oh God, we say that together right now, across all the different people listening to this podcast prayer right now, we say to you from our hearts: As for us, it’s good to be near you. We praise you for nearness to you. We praise you for the privilege of relationship with you. We say we have made you our refuge and we are glad in you. You hold us by your right hand, you will guide us with your counsel and you will receive us into glory. There is nothing on earth that can do that. We have nothing on earth that we desire beside you. We make you our refuge and we pray that you’d help us to tell of your works then, would help us to tell this good news to people around us today, that they can experience nearness to God in a way that nothing, money, possession, sex, success, anything this world offers can not compare to being near to you. God, help us to lead people to be near to you, to have refuge in you, to be received into glory by you, to know that you’re better than everything else this world offers.
God, we pray for that right around us. Help us to tell of your works for that far from us. God, we pray for South Asians in Yemen, these South Asians who came to Yemen at one time for jobs and now find themselves in the middle of a war zone. God, we pray for the spread of the gospel among them. God, we pray for the spread of the good news that they can be near you, that when they see the prosperity of the wicked around them in the middle of war, God, that they can have refuge in you. God, we pray for your refuge, the refuge of Jesus to be known in Yemen.
God, we pray, Lord, we praise you for Psalm 73. We praise you for the reality that we can be near to you and this is good. This is better than anything this world offers us. Jesus, we pray all of this in your name, for you have made nearness to God a reality for us now and forever. In your name we pray Psalm 73.
View the 2021 McLean Bible Church Reading Plan here.