Psalm 73 is about someone who struggles with the question of what is good. The psalmist looks at others–at people who don’t care for God–and determines that they have what is good and he doesn’t. This realization brings him to the brink of despair. We end up in the same place when our lives are not centered on worship to God. The psalmist is particularly discouraged by the prosperity of the wicked (vs. 3). Psalm 1:3-4 says it is the righteous who should prosper and wicked are the ones that should suffer. So the psalmist trusts his own understanding and begins to doubt. That doubt turns into envy and bitterness. You can almost hear his cry of anguish:
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. Psalm 73:13-14
Sometimes Christians feel this way. Why are my kids the ones with issues? I try harder than almost everyone else yet I can’t seem to get anywhere. It is so easy for them. Why is it so hard for me? And then the focus turns to those who are in the world and really aren’t concerned with God. They appear to prosper. The thoughts come–it is not fair. It is not supposed to be this way. Why does good come to others and not to me?
This is a matter of faith and trust. The Bible says that God has lavished his riches on you. (Ephesians 1:8) Even if you lose sight of this truth it doesn’t change reality. God has given you riches beyond measure, riches that will not evaporate in the ups and downs of your life. Thus, it becomes a matter of defining good the way God defines good. Like Paul, we must become content in all circumstances, whether good or bad. We must trust God’s view of reality over our own.
Parents, your children need this level of stability from you. If you are constantly up and down, confused that things don’t appear to be better, then perhaps your personal definition of good is in need of some biblical insight. If God is constant–if his love doesn’t waver, if his plans are good and do not change – then we can know that he is good, even if the wicked appear to flourish.
So, it is true, you can say with the psalmist that the nearness of God is your good!