Often in the darkest of places the Christian wonders why the good, natural graces of God seem to fall upon the wicked and not upon the righteous. The power and prosperity of the world is given most freely to those who would use it for their own pleasure, while the truly good people of the world falter and suffer deep oppression.The good guys never get the girl, so to say. The nice guys never win. Psalm 73 finds Asaph with similar thoughts. Where is God? Why does he seem so silent? Asaph is ready to give up, believing that his striving for uprightness is “all in vain”. Yet in his questioning he finds profound answers. God is not silent. By the end of his lament, Asaph realizes the unwavering fortitude of being found with God. The God who appears to bless the wicked with prosperity has blessed Asaph with so much more: the gift of his holy presence. It seems that God is all that Asaph has, and suddenly he realizes that is all he needs. And so he pens one of the most beautiful and striking passages in all of the Psalter:
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Asaph is no longer concerned with the prosperity of the wicked. He has found his satisfaction in God’s presence, ever abiding always with him. The sonnet below is a reflection on the sweetness of Asaph’s song. I wrote it during a time of darkness, where I was able to feel Asaph’s lament. My hope is that you can use it to further glimpse the heart-warming truth of Psalm 73: God is ever present, and always enough.
Psalm 73: A Sonnet
Wicked men of worldly passion never wept,
Where is God when blessed saints suffer best?
Each day grows my stricken, envious breast,
But all is vain: why stay clean, pure, heart kept?
Wretches, God-scoffers still peaceful, well slept,
Yet those who pray long left restless, oppressed.
Who may know this secret kept by The Blessed!
Weary question: How close my Rock well cleft?
Close, constant close, right hand held by Him who
Guides, and whom have I on Earth or besides?
Fleshly heart may fail and die, but still true
My strength of heart, my part, with Him abides;
More near than self, close by, please God: renew
As fit my feeble faith and faithless pride!