You ever find yourself wondering,
“What’s the point”?
“Why do I even get up?”
“Why do I even do any of this?”
“Every week it’s the same routine, the same people, and nothing changes.”
I give everything I am and everything I have and nothing matters. I don’t even know why I believe this stuff.
It’s a kind of lost, depressed, disappointed, or frustrated feeling. It’s just a step away from throwing your hands up and screaming “Forget it, I’m done. No More.”
You know that feeling?
In Psalm 73, we meet a guy named Asaph who is drowning in this. Asaph is a guy in some deep turmoil you see… Asaph is a worship leader. Not just a worship leader, he is “THE” worship leader for all of Isreal. He was handpicked by King David to lead all the bands that lead worship for his kingdom. We are talking about hundreds of musicians playing for thousands and thousands of people.
Asaph not only lead the bands, but he was the lead singer of the band that worshiped in the temple in the Kings city, in front of the king and all the bigwigs. This would be like singing with the band that played at the white house in front of the President and all the senators and congressmen.
But even with being as influential and successful as he was, Asaph struggled with the same stuff we do today. He is frustrated and confused and doesn’t understand why he needs to do things “The Right Way.”
You know what… let’s just jump in and see what he is feeling.
A Psalm of Asaph.
Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” This is what the wicked are like – always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Wow not quite what you expect from THE worship leader. With these 12 verses we get a little insight into struggle that I think a lot of us know. Asaph is looking at the world around him and seeing all of his friends, probably some of his family, and other folks he knows, just doing what they want.
If they want to party they do it, they want to sleep around they do it, they want to sleep in Sunday mornings or watch cartoons they do it, they cuss, they are cocky, they are having fun and dang it why can’t Asaph?
Psalm 73:3, “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
Asaph is looking at them thinking man that looks fun, they seem to have everything they want and are loving life. I want what they have, but I feel so guilty if I give in.
Psalm 73:4-5, “They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.”
Basically, Asaph is thinking, I have gone to church forever, I have gone through every age group and ministry there ever was, I have practically lived in church. I have been told my whole life, “Sin is bad! If you do bad things bad things happen to you!”
But look at these guys, they do what they want and they don’t feel guilty like I do. They don’t have the plague. They aren’t falling apart. Where is the bad stuff I have been avoiding my whole life? How come they are living it up and feeling fine. But I am saying no and feel horrible?
You know that feeling? Like you want to do the right thing but you don’t know why. You have so many people in your life doing anything they want and they are living a happy life.
They drink but they aren’t alcoholics, they smoke weed but they aren’t addicts, they hook up with all sorts of people but they don’t have STDs, they cheat and don’t get caught, they lie and it doesn’t matter. They are fine. Where is all this fear I have been avoiding?
Asaph is asking that same question. So far, he doesn’t have any answers. He doesn’t understand why life is the way it is. Why am I the one doing the right thing and I am the one who is unhappy?
Now in verse 13 Asaph starts to look hard at what he does and what he believes and it just makes him more angry. He goes from being jealous of everyone else to almost mad at himself and God.
Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me
Asaph is saying I want to do it, but I can’t. God, you have made me so stinking guilty and afraid I can’t even live how I want. Day and night and night and day I struggle with these feelings and I hate it. But if I give in, if I finally do what I want then I let down God and betray his kids, his followers. I would hate to think what the other Christians would think.
I just don’t understand and the more I try, the less I do.
Can you relate? Have you felt that?
A little angry and confused? Why do I go to church? Why do I sing these songs, why do I read this bible? Is it really because I believe it, or am I just scared and guilty? Am I afraid of what everyone else will think?
This is a very familiar spot for me. Uh oh, the pastor said he gets frustrated with being a Christian. But honestly, I find myself in this place of frustration and anger pretty often. And I try so hard to make myself feel like I think I should. I think I should smile more or laugh more or be more passionate about God. I start thinking if I can fake it or if I just do Christian things, it will all work.
But the more I fake it, the less I even want to try. And then I find myself not opening my bible, not getting on my knees to pray. I end up talking more to my friends about sports and music instead of God or my spiritual life.
It’s a dry disappointing feeling. And it affects everything I am.
I can relate to Asaph on everything he was written down so far. I think the only reason I can be honest and share that with you, shoot the only reason I am a follower of Jesus, is because Asaph writes another 11 verses that change everything.
Till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
In the middle of this dry, angry feeling Asaph goes to a place where he connects with God and it starts to make sense.
Psalm 73:17, “till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.”
Right here everything changes. This is the most important part of this whole chapter. Asaph realizes this Christian life doesn’t make any sense unless you are doing it with God. This Christian life was designed by God, for us to do with God. And the only way we will get fulfillment out of our walk is if we are focusing on God more than we focus on the world.
If all we do is think about what we are missing out on, yea, we will feel like we are being robbed. But if we turn our eyes towards what God is giving us, then we feel the abundance that we have. We see that we have an eternal perspective.
Psalm 73:20, “As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.”
As a dream… this means something different to each of us depending on where you put your faith.
If you put your faith and hope in Christ when this dream is over, when we die we will awake in heaven. And in this life, all the frustrations and pains will be like a bad dream and our real life will begin.
But if you put your faith in this world, this is as good as it will ever get. And when the dream is over you will wish you had one more moment on earth to make one more choice. But it will be too late.
Asaph realizes this is just a dream, and for some of us this is the closest thing to heaven we will ever feel, and for others we are just waiting to wake up in paradise.
Asaph realizes that this life isn’t just about the here and now. And once he starts to get some clarity on this, he realizes he isn’t facing this alone.
One of the greatest parts of this Psalm are these next 2 verses:
Psalm 73:21-22, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.”
In the original Greek and Hebrew text it says… I am such an idiot. Now I get it God. I was basically a brute beast, a “fat cow” only eating and eating to get fat. Just focusing on my desires, me-me-me. I didn’t pull my head out of the grass to look around and see what was really going on.
How many times have you looked in the mirror and thought… I am an idiot? I think it’s a weekly occurrence for me. I’m lucky because the days I forget that I’m an idiot, I have a wife to remind me.
No really though, how many times have you been frustrated, confused, angry, you felt like giving up and giving in and then you connect with God? Maybe you open the Bible and a verse jumps out, you come to a time of worship and a song hits you in the chest, you talk to a friend and something they say blindsides you. How many times has God shown up and puts everything in perspective?
When we have a clear understanding of who we are and why we live the way we do, it totally changes our perspective on life and our view of God. This is why Asaph closes out Psalm 73 totally different from how he opened it.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
This is where it starts to sound like a worship leader wrote this. Here is Asaph completely turned around from where he started. He went from being angry and confused and almost calling out God to now worshiping God.
Psalm 73:23, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”
Even when we mess up and forget that this is Gods plan, even when we look more at what we don’t have versus what we do have, even when we are idiots… God is right there listening, watching and just waiting for us to calm down enough to look at him so he can say “Child you are right here with me, I am always with you.”
Guys, sometimes we come together and we focus on issues or problems. We spend a lot of time focusing on what this Christian life should look like. We talk a lot about do’s and don’t’s.
And I’m not saying that is wrong or bad. I am saying, if all we focus on is the rules or the guidelines we are going to end up frustrated.
The first 16 verses of this Psalm were written by a guy who only saw the do’s and don’ts. By a guy who only saw life as things he was missing out on. By a guy who spent to much time at church and not enough time with God. And that left him bitter and angry.
If we get too caught up in being Christians instead of loving God and being loved by God, we have totally missed out.
In Verse 17, Asaph connects with God and everything changes. We don’t know how he connects, it doesn’t say he sang a song, or wrote a poem, or read the bible, or did a prayer walk, it simply says he entered the sanctuary of God.
I think the reason why we don’t get specifics on what this looks like is because the how is not as important as the fact he did it. How we connect with God is not as important as the fact that connect with God. That we take time out of our lives and say here now is the time I am going to connect with God.
When we stop and connect with God it starts to put things straight in our lives. It helps us remember that God is God and we are just His children.
He has given us so much and we are fulfilled only by Him.