Lesson Info:

Lesson 3 Summer Quarter
Lesson Text: Psalm 73:1-3, 12-13, 16-18, 21-26
Golden Text: Psalm 73:26

Listen to Today’s Lesson

Introduction

In our last two lessons, we have seen the call of Samuel and when Isaiah was commissioned to carry out the will of the Lord.  Our lesson this week does not take a look at the call of another scripture.  However, through Asaph, a psalmist (musician) who was also faithful, we will see the struggle that many believers face when it comes to being faithful.  This week’s lesson is being taught from Psalm 73:1-3, 12-13, 16-18, 21-26.

The Envy of the Wicked

As you have heard me speak about for the past month or so, the walk of faith for the believer is not an easy one at all.  There is so much that we deal with in life – our afflictions, infirmities – our troubles and our burdens.  Yet, there is something else that believers deal with that can be incredibly dangerous to us and this danger is more self-inflicting.

Not appreciative of God

Asaph, as a believer, recognized that the Lord truly is good as we see him say in the opening of this psalm, “truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart (v.1).”  Asaph, in speaking of the Lord being good in this verse, was speaking of the Lord’s faithfulness to those who love Him and who He loves.  As Moses said to the children of Israel, “know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments (Deut. 7:9).”

God is faithful, but Asaph in considering his faithfulness towards the Lord, realized that he was not nearly as faithful as he should have been.  He speaks of a time when he had almost stumbled (v.2).  What almost caused him to stumble?  Envy.

Asaph says, “I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (v.3).”  Envy, jealousy, is one of the greatest afflictions of the believer and we are constantly advised to put away envy.  To be envious is a sign of not being grateful for what the Lord has done; it’s a lack of appreciation for Him.

Believing the wicked have better blessings

Let us then consider that Asaph said he was envious of the “prosperity” of the wicked.  What was he envious of?  Asaph looked at the wicked and believed that they were always at ease and increased their riches (v.12).  Do you ever look at others, especially those who you believe are sinners, and think that they have it made?  That’s what Asaph got caught up in doing.

Some of us will look at the fancy cars, fancy houses, or clothes that they may have with a desire that we want those things too.  There are many people that will play on envy against the believer.  They will say things along the lines of, “why hasn’t God blessed you with this nice thing or that nice thing?”  

This kind of thought, and envy itself will play on the mind of the believer as we will begin to wonder why we don’t have such nice things.  Asaph, we will see said to himself, “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence (v.13).”  He is saying here what a lot of believers have said about their faith – that he believed for nothing.

I want to be clear about something – you don’t believe in the Lord because you desire to be rich.  Some people actually do believe that they should be rewarded with great riches because they have believed in the Lord.  In scripture, we see Simon, the magician, think this very way about believing in the Lord to only to be told to think otherwise.

There are many times when believers will look at what the wicked ones have and we will want what they have out of envy.  To be envious of what someone else has, again, is to not be appreciative of what the Lord has blessed you with.  To be envious of the wicked ones, speaks even louder volumes!  What many of those who are envious end up doing out of their envy is try to do what others have done to gain what they have.

We must push envy out of our system.  The reason why is because envy is most certainly a slippery slope that leads one into wickedness.  We should be faithful and happy with all that the Lord does for us – be content.

Recognizing the gifts of God

Therefore, we must learn to be thankful and appreciative of all that the Lord has done for us.  Personally, I don’t believe that this is an easy task to learn.  Asaph says this same thing as he reflected on this matter.  He said, “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me (v.16).”

I have had so many of the faith approach me and wonder why the Lord seemingly allows them to be “broke”.  They often question, “does God enjoy me being poor?”  Absolutely not!  God will certainly give to us the desires of our hearts and all that we require.  Yet, struggle can be so difficult for many of us that it pushes our faith to the limits.  Our faith should not break over the gaining of the riches of this world.

Asaph also had to come to this very understanding in his walk of faith.  He tells us that he went to the sanctuary of God and was able to understand the end of those he envied (v.17).  Asaph needed the Lord’s guidance in this matter, and I believe that many of us should also turn to the Lord especially when it comes to envying what others have.

You see, we must learn how to become content with what God has given to us, rather than look at what others have.  What God has given to you is unique and perfect – don’t make lightly of it by envying what others have, especially wicked ones!  The wicked ones, Asaph realized, may have some worldly riches today, but those riches are only temporary (v.18).

Treasure heaven

As we have seen and studied in the past, Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matt. 6:19-20).”

The greater riches that we should desire are the riches in the heavenly kingdom.  Something that you hear me often preach about is how we should always look ahead to the greater blessing of the Lord over the riches of this world.  At this realization, Asaph tells us that he was grieved in his heart (v.21).  In other words, he felt rather foolish to believe that those of wickedness had it so good compared to him.  He said, “I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You (God) (v.22).”

Though he felt foolish for envying the wicked, he said he would turn to the Lord (vss.23-26).  God, Asaph said, would guide him on his journey and afterward, would receive him to glory.  So, Asaph was moving past his envy and put his hope in receiving the heavenly treasures of God.  Asaph concluded, “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Why should we, the genuine believer, ever be envious of those who have a temporary treasure when our treasure is eternal?  Now, I do want to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring the “finer things” of life.  What is wrong is not appreciating what the Lord has done for us and blessed us with.  It is certainly wrong of us to be envious of others!

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