When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was [like] a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven [but You?]
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:21-28 (NASB)
Hymn: "Rejoice, the Lord is King" Charles Wesley, John Darwall
My wife got a new job, she's been there about two months now, and it is the first time in my life I've been above the poverty line. We own our own house now, which I never thought would happen, on a decent little portion of land. I'm writing this from my office now, which is a little mind-blowing. But I was poor for a very long time, and there's a part of me that wants to be bitter about all that I experienced leading up to this point, especially now that we're in a community apparently full of the economic class that both contributed to some of my problems and judged me for them.
Psalm 73 begins with Asaph making confession for his envy toward those who were more secure in this world than he was, especially the wicked among them. He describes the pleasures they enjoy, in contrast to himself, until he comes to the temple. It is here, encountering God, that he is reminded of the folly of seeking after riches, of the end that awaits those who put their stock in this world rather than in God. He talks about destruction and judgment, and sees that those who throw their lot in with this present world will perish with it. The psalm closes with him considering the lesson learned from this, the personal lesson. The lesson at the end is not a condemnation of the rich for their riches, though that happens elsewhere in scripture, but another confession and serious consideration of his own heart in light of what he's seen.
Judgment does await those who put their hope in riches, but this psalm calls on all of us to examine our hearts. There is always someone with more of what you value. There is always someone who seems further ahead. Are we bitter toward them? Psalm 73 says our bitterness makes us senseless, ignorant, "like a beast before" God. In the statement "whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth," we get to the core of the solution. God is our portion. He is not only all we need, but all we really have. Everything is from Him, everything is to be devoted to Him. He is to be the fullness of our joy, the highest pursuit of our lives. If we will keep this in mind, if we will fix our eyes on Him and not things of this earth, not only will we know we truly have all that we desire, but we will not be tempted to be bitter toward others.
O Lord, let us not be bitter when we see those with more than us, and let us not grow selfish with what we have. Let us always remember, in abundance or in poverty, that we have You, and that You are everything.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation