Tuesday, June 06, 2023

2023.06.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 73:23–28

Read Psalm 73:23–28

Questions from the Scripture text: At what times does Asaph believe the Lord has been with him (Psalm 73:23a)? What has the Lord been doing (verse 23b)? What will the Lord continue to do (Psalm 73:24a)? And then what (Psalm 73:24b)? Who will receive Asaph to glory? What does Asaph ask, about what place, in verse Psalm 73:25a? What is the implied answer? What does he declare about what place in verse 25b? What is the condition of his physical strength (Psalm 73:26a)? What is the condition of his spiritual strength? What is his heart’s rock of strength (verse 26b)? What else is God to him? For how long? What will happen to whom (Psalm 73:27a)? Who does this to them (verse 27b)? What have they done to the Lord? What does Asaph now define as good (Psalm 73:28a)? What has Asaph done (verseb28b)? To be able to do what (verse 28c)?

What does worship lead a believer to conclude about his life? Psalm 73:23–28 looks forward to the public reading of Scripture in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when worship reminds the believer that God has all blessedness in Himself, the believer realizes that any good in him has already come from God, and that having God Himself means that the believer already has all blessedness in this life and the next.  

One of the benefits of beholding God’s holiness in worship (Psalm 73:17) is the realization that He is just as holy, and He is just as present, even when we don’t perceive Him. When we add to that the fact that we have been foolish and beastly toward Him (Psalm 73:22), but that He has still granted that we would perceive His holiness (Psalm 73:17), we realize how great His mercy and patience toward us have been. This presents a very different view of ourselves and our circumstances than Asaph had in Psalm 73:13-14.

A reassessment of our past and presentPsalm 73:23-24a. Previously, Asaph spoke as if he had washed his own heart and hands (Psalm 73:13). Now, his explanation for why his foolishness and beastliness (Psalm 73:22) were not complete (cf. Psalm 73:2) is that the Lord was with him (Psalm 73:23a), holding him by the right hand (verse 23b). He has gone from thinking of himself as a good man (Psalm 73:13) being undeservedly punished (Psalm 73:14) to seeing himself as a sinful man (Psalm 73:21-22) being undeservedly helped and blessed (Psalm 73:23-24a).

What a wonderful word “nevertheless” can be. The believer may bring it into every circumstance: “Nevertheless, I am with You.” Note how much more personal “You” is than “Him” or “the Lord.” He’s not just thinking about the Lord. He’s interacting with the Lord. The believer can add to every failing: “Nevertheless, You hold me by my right hand.” The believer can add to every foolishness: “Nevertheless, You guide me with Your counsel.” May the Spirit train our hearts to say, “Nevertheless, You…”

A personal definition of heavenPsalm 73:24-28. When we say “personal” definition of heaven, we do not mean that every person gets to make their own definition of goodness (Psalm 73:28a), but that the proper definition of goodness or blessing is that it is found in a Person: God Himself. 

When the believer is received into glory (Psalm 73:24b), he finds that the One Who receives him there is the One Who has been with him all along (cf. Psalm 73:23-24a). And having glimpsed God’s holiness in worship (Psalm 73:17), the believer has come to see that whatever else there is in heaven cannot make it any more glorious than God’s display of Himself has made it (Psalm 73:25a).

The wonderful corollary to this is that if God Himself is all of the heavenliness of heaven, then a believer already has heaven on earth (Psalm 73:25b). His failings (Psalm 73:26a) cannot take away what the believer has in the Lord Himself (verse 26b). And when he “fails” in the ultimate sense of expiring from this world (verse 26a), the believer finds that he still has the Lord Himself forever (verse 26b).

What, then, do the wicked have? Certainly not enviable prosperity like Asaph had foolishly thought (Psalm 73:4-12). Rather, they have death and destruction (Psalm 73:27). They had boasted in themselves, but a proper definition of goodness brings the believer to the conclusion that even more than the enjoyment of God, his purpose is to glorify God. No longer is he drawing near to God to obtain something else as a blessing, but in order to declare the great works of God (Psalm 73:28c) Who has in Himself all blessedness!

When is the Lord with you? When is He helping you? What are you looking forward to in heaven? What things do you desire that compete with a desire for the Lord Himself? What is your purpose?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we are continually with You. You hold us by the right hand, and You guide us with Your counsel. It is You Yourself Who will receive us to glory, and You Yourself are all the gloriousness of heaven. Make us to know Your presence with us as a heaven on earth. Don’t let our hearts go after anything apart from You. Grant that You would be our strength and portion, even now. So, when our flesh and heart fail, we will still have You Yourself. Grant to us to enjoy You and trust You and praise You, now and forever, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord, with Thee”

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