Psalm 73:1-13 “Truly God Is Good to Israel…”

Psalm 73:1-12 “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart”

This Psalm explores the pulls that the world has on the heart of the elect as we “come out of her my people” (Jer 51:45, Rev 18:4), and how God is the one who demonstrates His Sovereignty in our lives by trying us with much tribulation, diverse trials (Jas 1:2), persecution (2Ti 3:12), and whatever has been written in our books, including the symbolic seven times we fall in the wilderness (Pro 24:16) for the perfecting of the saints today.

Act 14:22 ConfirmingG1991 the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

We are confirmedG1991 and strengthened through those trials, and are received as sons and daughters who are being purified in a fiery relationship that we are called unto today (Joh 6:44, Mat 22:14, Heb 12:6) in advance of the rest of humanity.

It is such a blessing to have our hearts cleansed ‘today’, even though it is hard on the flesh. The promise is that “God is good to Israel”, the Israel of God who we are, because we are His workmanship being worked with and judged today as we go through this process of sanctification first for the rest of the world which will follow.

Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. [Eze 36:26]
Gal 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

As we walk according to this rule of knowing that we are becoming a new creation [Col 1:27, 1Jn 3:3], we are blessed with the fruit of that new creation, which is a peace that passes all understanding (Php 4:7). We are no longer envious of the world around us but rather say with Paul “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal 6:14, Col 1:24).

We come together as the body of Christ (Heb 10:25, Mal_3:16) to be reminded of our high calling where we find ourselves confirmingG1991 each other of this race that we are running together (1Co 9:24, Gal 3:16, Act 20:28, Jud 1:21, 1Co 9:27), becoming established in the Lord, helping each other in this perfecting process (Eph 4:12), so that having done all we can stand together and not be envious of a dying world that prospers only in the flesh and not having the stay of bread and water with which God has blessed us so that we can be quickened today with His spirit (Eph 6:13, Php 1:6, Joh_6:63).

con·firmed (adjective) dictionary definition
(of a person) firmly established in a particular habit, belief, or way of life and unlikely to change: “a confirmed bachelor”; synonyms: established, long-standing, committed,

dyed-in-the-wool, through and through;
G1991 strengthening , confirming , confirmed
– Original: εu787 πu953 σu964 ηu961 ιu769 ζu969 – Transliteration: Episterizo
– Phonetic: ep-ee-stay-rid’-zo
– Definition:
1. to establish besides, strengthen more 2. to render more firm, confirm
– Origin: from G1909 and G4741
– TDNT entry: 17:53,1
– Part(s) of speech: Verb
– Strong’s: From G1909 and G4741; to support further that is reestablish: – confirm strengthen.
Total KJV Occurrences: 4
•confirmed, 1 Act_15:32
•confirming – 2 Act 14:22; Act 15:41
•strengthening – 1 Act 18:23

In order for us to have a “clean heart”, we need to go through much tribulation, and God shows us clearly in scripture how he will always prepare us for that tribulation: by confirming or strengthening us through the church by each member that supplies (Eph 4:16).

Psa 73:1 A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

If we are being cleansed today, God’s goodness is being shown to us (Rom 2:4). Truly this is God’s goodness to simply work with us as His first fruits. We will, God willing, be those powerful first-fruit seeds that will be used to convert the world. This is seen even in the very use of the name “Asaph” at the very start of this Psalm.

Asaph comes from the verb (asap), [that] means to gather or collect, and is most commonly either associated with the harvest or a gathering of men (Gen 29:22, Exo 3:16, Isa 10:14). It may also mean to gather up or remove (1Sa 14:19, Isa 57:1, Jdg 19:15). The familiar phrase “he was gathered to his people” as an interpretation of a person’s dying is also constructed through this verb (Gen 25:8, Deu 32:50). For a meaning of the name “Asaph”, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read Collector. BDB Theological Dictionary has Gatherer. (excerpt from http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Asaph.html#.VvFY0xg0OC0)

These verses come to mind, knowing that the Asaph of this psalm is a shadow of the elect in this regard:

Mat 9:37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;

1Co 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

Eph 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

With these verses we see that this is God’s goodness to gather His people together; and everyone who is dragged to Christ and His body are cleansed in the process or made to have a clean heart (Joh 6:44, Psa 1:5).

Psa 73:2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.
Psa 73:3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

God shows us what is in our heart, how we naturally want those things which are not good for us, even when we know to do what is right. God shows us that we can never win this conflict over sin unless the Lord sets us free and delivers us (Rom 7:19, Isa 63:17, Joh 8:36).

We get the sense with this language in verses 2 and 3 that sin is at the door (Gen 4:7) and that our feet and our steps can easily be drawn into the foolishness or wickedness of this world except for the grace and faith of God. A simple search of the Strongs numbers for “feet”H7272 and “slipped”H8210 tells us just how serious it is:

Psa 73:2 But as for me, my feetH7272 were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slippedH8210.

Pro 1:16 For their feetH7272 run to evil, and make haste to shedH8210 blood.

Isa 59:7 Their feetH7272 run to evil, and they make haste to shedH8210 innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.

Looking at all three verses here side by side, we see clearly that the Lord is telling us that we only go forward in His righteousness (Mar 10:18) “by the grace of God” (1Co 15:10).

Psa 73:4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
Psa 73:5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
Psa 73:6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.
Psa 73:7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
Psa 73:8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.
Psa 73:9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.

These few verses talk about the condition that God has always allowed men to have in the flesh, a condition that causes us to think that “there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm“. There is a sense of power and control that, if we are not given to judge correctly, will blind us as well, causing us to have a false sense of security and purity “not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.”

Men press into the kingdom with the wisdom of man (God; and that spirit really does make us think we are rich and increased with goods described in these terms in this psalm “eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish” (Rev 3:17, 1Co 2:5).

There are important lessons for us in these verses about the wicked of this world who we are not to be envious of:

”there are no “bands”H2784 in their death [no fetter as there was in Joseph’s life, no affliction, persecution or tribulation as we discussed in the first verse. In other words God is not working with them to put off the first man Adam’ – Rom 5:12, 1Co 15:50].

“They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men” [they do not have much tribulation as we are required, neither do they have to endure the seven last plagues and consequently cannot have access to the altar that we eat at (Heb 13:10, Rev 15:8].

Pride and violence encompass our hearts when we are not being judged, and we wear them as a chain or like a garment [they are part of our natural beastly make up of the first man Adam that can only be loosed through judgment: see Isa 58:6 in comparison for bands of wickedness].

When we have too much, our eyes stand out with fatness obscuring our vision, and because our hearts have so much, we don’t see our spiritual poverty and need to cry out to God Rev 3:17). This greed is made manifest and is judged throughout scripture, and these are just three examples: Eze 34:3, Psa 119:70, Psa 17:10. 

At this point we are drunk spiritually and utter what we ‘want’ like a drunk (Pro 23:33, Rev 18:3). In our corrupt and wickedly oppressed state we speak loftily because we are of our father the devil (Isa 14:13-16, Eze 28:13, Oba 1:3, Psa 10:5-6).

So we can see the correlation of this corrupt heart that is as Satan’s. We “walketh through the earth” just as Satan does to this very day (Job 2:2) when we “set [our] mouth against the heavens”.

Psa 73:10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them
Psa 73:11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?
Psa 73:12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.

What we come to know is that the riches of the earth are for these “vain men”and are but fleeting (Pro 23:5, Mar 4:19). It is necessary to bring evil into the light and to show us what we are (Isa 45:7). This vain and darkened heart of man is an inseparable part of the teaching mechanism that God uses so that light can then come out of that darkness:

God does prosper the wicked and “waters of a full cup are wrung out to them“, and uses this prosperity to blind them and to remind us how blind we are when we first receive the true riches of God’s word, which we wrap around the idols of our hearts until the Lord burns that out of us (Eze 14:4, Jer 17:10).

”Is there knowledge in the most High?” Of course there is! We just don’t get it until we get it by the grace and faith of God. Then we say “how unsearchable” are those riches, and “what a blind fool I was!” (Rom 11:32-33)

Job 11:7 Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
Job 11:8 It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?
Job 11:9 The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.
Job 11:10 If he cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can hinder him?
Job 11:11 For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider it?
Job 11:12 For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.
Job 11:13 If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him;
Job 11:14 If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.
Job 11:15 For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear;

What we come to know is that the riches of the earth are for these “vain men”and are but fleeting (Pro 23:5, Mar 4:19). It is necessary to bring evil into the light and to show us what we are (Isa 45:7). This vain and darkened heart of man is an inseparable part of the teaching mechanism that God uses so that light can then come out of that darkness:

Job 35:13 Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it.

Job 36:22 Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?

Job 36:26 Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.

Job 40:19 He [Behemoth] is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. [meaning Amo 9:10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us].

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