Psalm 73-The Problem of Evil psalm

Psalm 73

BOOK THREE
God Is My Strength and Portion Forever
A Psalm of(A) Asaph.

1Truly God is good to(B) Israel,
to those who are(C) pure in heart.
2But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
3(D) For I was(E) envious of the arrogant
when I saw the(F) prosperity of the wicked. 4For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
5They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not(G) stricken like the rest of mankind.
6Therefore pride is(H) their necklace;
violence covers them as(I) a garment.
7Their(J) eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
8They scoff and(K) speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
9They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
10Therefore his people turn back to them,
and find(L) no fault in them.[a]
11And they say,(M) “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12Behold, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they(N) increase in riches.
13All in vain have I(O) kept my heart clean
and(P) washed my hands in innocence.
14For all the day long I have been(Q) stricken
and(R) rebuked(S) every morning.
15If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed(T) the generation of your children.

16But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me(U) a wearisome task,
17until I went into(V) the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their(W) end.

18Truly you set them in(X) slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
19How they are destroyed(Y) in a moment,
swept away utterly by(Z) terrors!
20Like(AA) a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when(AB) you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
21When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22I was(AC) brutish and ignorant;
I was like(AD) a beast toward you.

23Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you(AE) hold my right hand.
24You(AF) guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will(AG) receive me to glory.
25(AH) Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26(AI) My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is(AJ) the strength[b] of my heart and my(AK) portion(AL) forever.

27For behold, those who are(AM) far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is(AN) unfaithful to you.
28But for me it is good to(AO) be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my(AP) refuge,
that I may(AQ) tell of all your works.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 73:10 Probable reading; Hebrew the waters of a full cup are drained by them
  2. Psalm 73:26 Hebrew rock

3 Responses to Psalm 73-The Problem of Evil psalm

  1. Daniel says:

    Hmm, so God is just and merciful for those who come to him. Great psalm!

    Can you elaborate on your thoughts of why it’s a problem of evil psalm?

  2. Clinton says:

    Let me say this: I don’t think that this Psalm gives a full rebuttal to the skeptic concerning the problem of evil. But, I couldn’t think of a better title for this post. Following are my reasons why I make a connection between the problem of evil and this psalm:

    1) Clearly, the psalmist is looking around him and identifying injustice in the world. The wicked prosper, they are “fat and sleek,” they are “not stricken like the rest of mankind,” and they “increase in riches.” Moreover, they are prideful, violent, wicked, and yet they live in “ease.”

    2) The psalmists says that in his pursuit to understand this dilemma (the fact that the evil of these people who “set their mouths against heaven” go unchecked while he suffers), he realizes it to be a “wearisome task.” In other words, it doesn’t make sense that the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer.

    3) The wicked say, “How can God know? Is their knowledge in the Most High?” This is a direct attack by the wicked on Yahweh. It sounds a lot like contemporary provocations. “Where is your all-powerful, all-good God?”

    The Psalm does not give a full-blown theodicy. However, I find great relief in v. 17. God’s kingdom is about value reversals (“the last shall be first and the first, last.”). Though we (or at least I) often envy complete pagans who often have things easier in life than myself, I recognize that this is the wrong attitude. What pagans have in temporal, fleeting joys of materialism, power, etc., are not to be envied. We should mourn for their state. For they are in eternal danger given their present relationship to the divine. For us, true joy and glory and peace comes when we recognize the truth that the psalmist declares:

    “For me it is good to be near God.” This is so true!

  3. Daniel says:

    Great thoughts, I echo them!

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