The Goodness of God (Part 2)
Psalm 73: 15-28
Today we continue with the second part of Psalm 73 and I will quickly give a summary of the first section we considered. This was under the heading of THE WORLD’S INFLUENCE UPON ASAPH.
1. God’s goodness
2. Asaph’s confession that he had nearly lost his foothold in the Lord
3. Asaph’s description of what worldliness consists of, ie, Envy, Pride, scoffing, malice, arrogance, covertesness , blasphemy, godlessness and idle speech.
4. Asaph’s conclusion that the wicked are carefree and that they increase in wealth.
5. We saw that Asaph was like many of us as he also underwent a period of doubting, whether there really was a Living God or not. He learnt that he had to trust the promises of God in the Scriptures.
6. We saw that even in his backslidden condition his conscience plagued him. He could not get Adonai out of his mind even when he had left the protection and covenant of God.
Asaph was in a way similar to the Prodical son who had left his father’s house to seek his fortune in the world. Like the Prodical son Asaph came to a stage where he could not go on any longer in the ways of the world. Having been once under the blessing of his Father, Asaph reflected over his past and came back to God. We are not told the actual circumstances and just how he came out of his backslidden condition, but we do know that Adonai once again became his Saviour. This then was the world’s influence upon Asaph. We will now look into the second section which consists of verses 15 to 28, namely:
B. GOD’S INFLUENCE UPON ASAPH
1. ASAPH’S LIFE IS CHANGED (verses 15-17)
Even during the time that he was backslidden his conscience told him that certain things he was doing were not according to the will of God. From verse 15it would seem to me that one of the things he just could not get over his heart to do was to talk against the children of Israel, and by the children of Israel he was not talking of the whole of Israel as a nation, but only of those who really served the Lord with all their heart and soul, and not just with lip talk.
The Apostle Paul once said that “They are not all Israel which are of Israel.” In the same sense we can also say “They are not all Christians that are of Christianity.” So many claim Christianity yet they do not qualify for reason of the fact that they have not yet Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord of their life.
When did Asaph’s life change for the best again? It happened when he decided to enter the sanctuary of God! He came back to his first love. If you are one who is longing to come back to Jesus and do not quite know how, then I suggest you do like Asaph did. Go back into the house of the Lord; come close to those who serve Jesus with enthusiasm; let their love for Jesus penetrate your heart, so that through the Spirit your heart may again be warmed up.
2. ASAPH’S GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE (verses 18-19)
When Asaph entered the sanctuary, God gave him a glimpse of what the destiny was of those who continued to live in sin and in wickedness. This included all those who were out of God’s will, even though they were doing good works. Good works on their own never earned salvation. One’s heart HAS to be given over to Jesus before salvation can be credited. God showed him how the wicked and the unbeliever were on a roller-coaster ride, away from eternity in heaven with Christ. Asaph was shown a greased slide, as it were, where once on the move down the slope it is extremely difficult to get off or climb back up again. One can still stay alive on the slide but what happens at the end of the slide? Here there is no special pool of water to soften the blow and slow one down. Verse 19 gives the answer; “How suddenly they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!” The end of the slide ends with sudden death, a spiritual death, away from the presence of God. Rom. 6:23 tells us that, “the wages of sin is death”
The Apostle Paul then gives us the opposite to the negative. On the positive side he gives the wonderful news, the lifebuoy to those sinking in the wild sea of the world; “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This gift is still available to you today and will still be available until the rapture takes place, just before the Tribulation begins. You may think that this is still far away and that you have plenty of time to make up your mind. That may possibly be true, we do not know, but, more importantly, will YOU still have time tomorrow?
3. ASAPH’S EYES OPENED TO GOD’S INVISIBLE PRESENCE (verse 20)
“As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.” What Asaph is saying here is that in his sinful and backslidden condition he was like one walking around in a dream world – Dreaming that he was safe and sound and out of danger. In a dream one imagines all sorts of things. Fantasies float before one’s eyes and they all seem to be really happening. So are they who are without Jesus in their lives. They fantasize that they are safe and sound in the world and that nothing serious can happen to them.
Asaph woke out of those dreams with a bump! He recovered and understood what and who God really is and what would happen to him if he did not come back into the protection of the Lord. God may be a Spirit, He may be invisible, but His presence is felt by all who come to Him.
4. ASAPH’S REVIVAL (verses 21-22)
In these few verses we have the secret of revival. Revival simply means the state of coming back from an almost dead spiritless condition into a living, active and joyous reunion with the Saviour. Asaph admitted that he had fallen into a dishonourable and shameful conduct. Unless the seeker concludes that he is a sinner in need of Someone to help him out of the pit of hell, he seeks in vain. The seeker who wants God, yet still wants to be independent from God, will not be found of God until he releases his stand and surrenders his will unto the will of God.
5. ASAPH EXPERIENCES GOD’S COMPASSION (verses 23-24)
Asaph rediscovered that God is full of compassion. King David knew what God was like when he wrote verse 15 of Psalm 86 from personal experience, “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” We can also experience God’s compassion by letting Jesus into our life, and by this I don’t just mean as Saviour, but in our obedience to Him. When we start obeying the Lord’s commands we start being led by the Holy Spirit. As we start walking in the Spirit so God starts acting in our lives, so Jesus, in His wonderful compassion, changes us into an acceptable sacrifice unto the Father.
6. ASAPH’S DEPENDENCE AND RELIANCE ON GOD (verses 25-26)
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” Finally Asaph comes to the realization that the best Friend he can ever have is his God Adonai. He understood the meaning of Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” We are now living in God’s New Covenant time, and His Son Jesus Christ is the Friend today that sticks closer than a brother. I wonder just how many of you realize just how close He can be to you if you let Him? John, that Apostle of love who was very close to Jesus, knew just what Jesus was explaining when Jesus said in John 15:4, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” Jesus also said that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him.
If you have Jesus in you then you also have the Father in you too. Have you fully realized this wonderful fact? The believer is never alone: he has the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in him and with Him. No wonder Asaph, in verse 26 rejoiced, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.”
Listener, let Jesus be your strength, and even if you are going through awfully bad times, remember these words just given you. Be encouraged to go through till the end. Our life is a marathon and as such is never easy. There are many hills and valleys to go through before the finish line appears. Only those who cross the finishing line receive the medal; be it a gold, bronze or silver! I encourage you to keep at it as there are many angels cheering you and waving you on to the finishing line to the prize of the crown of righteousness and of everlasting life!
ASAPH’S CONCLUSION (verses 27-28)
Asaph again rejoiced in the nearness of his God. He again made God his refuge. Make sure Jesus is your Rock and your Refuge as He is the greatest Life Assurance you can ever get. Anchor yourself to Jesus. Let His Words penetrate your heart. Let Him guide you through the perils of life, and as you do so you will understand why Asaph said in verse 1, “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.”