Psalm 73 Study Question 4

Sycamore Presbyterian Church Friday Men’s Bible Study Psalm 73 (see notes)

4. Verses 15-20. What are the next three steps or things that occur that help him to “get his foothold” back?

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!
20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.

Verse 15 is interesting: the psalmist confesses his complaint to us lyrically, but implies that he kept his thoughts to himself until composing this song. He stopped short of verbally complaining; but he used his mental complaint to instruct us. We know that there are levels of sin: thought, word and deed. The psalmist was beset by envious and bitter thoughts but did not take the next step of becoming a notorious and public complainer, followed by a dramatic exit state left from the church. He knew that this kind of drama would cause others to stumble, especially children, who can be so sensitive to the travails, foibles and failures of their elders. So the first step is his choice to keep it to himself.

Note how, in verse 16, he gives up on understanding how injustice and evil prosper. I discussed this in an earlier post. The summary is that the power of human reason is unequal to understanding this problem, so it’s best to quit wasting time on it. The second step is his choice to stop relying on human reason.

It’s clear that when he returned to the sanctuary, he listened to the word of God there, and learned (or, more likely, relearned) that God has reserved vengeance to Himself (Psalm 94:1.) (Interesting that a writer of the psalms would use another psalm as divine instruction – did Old Testament writers understand their work to be inspired by God?) We learn here that the preaching there was good. We learn that the psalmist listened to it and was willing to be encouraged in his walk by it. In the New Testament, two writers (Paul and the writer of Hebrews) chose to quote this verse. The third step is his choice to depend on the word of God for discernment.

Notes:
Using Praying the Psalms Group Study Product
All Bible quotes ESV

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