Psalm 73 is the story of a troubled soul who wonders about the goodness of God in the face of the apparent prosperity of people who openly mock God and delight in wickedness. As we have seen, the psalmist needed to redefine his concept of good, and he needed to stop seeing the actions of the wicked in light of a momentary perspective. Among other reasons, this psalm is recorded by the Holy Spirit because faithful servants of God throughout history face similar situations. All of us can identify with the theme of this psalm. It is painful to see the wicked prosper. We sometimes question whether it is worth it to keep trying–is it in vain that we have tried to be faithful to God? But God in is wisdom and mercy provided this psalm to keep our thinking clear. The final portion of this psalm, the verses that we are going to examine today, fits with the news headlines of the past few days. The deaths of celebrities have grabbed the spotlight. A prominent Christian governor has fallen prey to adultery. Some who have appeared to prosper in this life have now come face to face with the Lord of Creation. Their riches and accomplishments here on earth will have no bearing on the question that now must be answered–what basis is there for them to be accepted by a righteous and holy God? If anything other than the righteousness of Christ is offered, then there is no basis for acceptance. Only hell awaits. The psalmist alludes to this frightening moment of truth in verse 19:
How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
For the most part, the celebrities of modern culture fall into the arena that cares little for the living God. These stars are judged by how well they please their audiences. When the pleasing stops, the appreciation stops–scorn may even follow. Yet during their brief moment on the stage of this world’s culture, they appear as Psalm 73 depicts. They have no worries, and they seem to be in control and able to mock God and his ways without fear of consequence. They have followers who drink in all that they espouse as if it were some form of enchanted Kool-Aid (verse 10). But this vision of the prosperity of those who scoff at God is fleeting; it lasts but a moment. That is what overwhelmed the psalmist as he entered the sanctuary of the Lord:
When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin. Verses 16-18
Notice the clarity and insight of these words. If you try to understand the “prosperity” of the wicked without an eternal perspective, it will be oppressive. This is a vital truth that you must pass on to your children. The world paints a deceptive picture of disobedience. The allure of the world will lose its attraction as it is displayed in the light of eternity.
The stark reality of this psalm serves as a warning to your children of how attractive the world can appear. That is why it is essential that your parenting be based on one solid truth–the nearness of God is your good! The world will appeal to your children with the same force with which it appealed to the psalmist. God’s goodness must be real to you, so real that your life is dominated by it. The nearness of God–is it your good?
The world of the celebrity has dominated the news. Some have fallen. Others rise to take their turn. They, too, will appear to have it all together. Pray that God will give you joy in being near to him. Show your children how much God’s nearness means to you. Don’t mislead them by allowing other things to crowd between you and your God. If your children are struggling with various things, delight in them by working with them to value the nearness of God. The worth of your children is not determined by things that can be measured by the world’s standards. Don’t allow the performance of your children to become the barometer of what is good for you.
Remember, you do not want to take your children to where you are. You want to take your children to the same place you are longing for–the cross of Christ.