In Matthew 18, Jesus took time to quell the bickering of the disciples using the illustration of a child’s humility. He also gave them a stern warning to not be a stumbling block for ones who are new in their faith or just beginning to grow. Today we meet a man who long ago faced this same struggle. The musician and seer Asaph wisely teaches us how to handle temptations to be a stumbling block which is one of the enemy’s tools. This is one of the wisdom psalms from which we learn practical points of life.
Asaph begins with extolling God for His goodness and purity of motives. But, he is struggling as he sees those who are wicked who are prosperous, proud, and popular. We too face that struggle when we look about us rather than looking at God. Asaph personalizes his struggles with his perspective on life for us and in it teaches us some wise principles.
Life is not fair. Asaph as a paid religious worker in Temple worship just didn’t seem to cut it. It is not fair. Others are materially prosperous also are proud and pompous, while I am poor and suffer adversity. They lack for nothing and live life with a “God owes me this” mentality. I am a man of integrity and yet like Job or Joseph I am facing problems. Where is my material prosperity God? Why do I face problems? If you are God why am I suffering? Today we see and hear the same refrain. It seems that this is a point that is ages old. The problem is failing to see life through the lens of the eternal perspective.
There are three keys we want to note: vs 3 “I envied” Envy is a sin that began in the Garden of Eden and is alive and well today. Secondly, notice how Asaph pondered what to do: 73:15 “If I had publicized these thoughts, I would have betrayed your loyal followers.” Translation: I would become a stumbling block! Today: How often do we share via prayer requests our struggles without considering what those might do to a young believer’s faith? Thirdly, 73:17 Then I entered the precincts of God’s temple, Asaph came to the sobering reality that first he harbored the sin of envy for which he needed cleansing. Secondly, Asaph pondered the consequences of being a stumbling block to others so wisely he sought the counsel of God. Lastly in God’s presence he saw the reality: We are here for one purpose: to behold His beauty and to worship Him in all of His fullness. I think Lazarus might have had that perspective right and the rich man had the “God owes me mentality” in Luke 16. In the end, who was really blessed? Asaph comes to this same conclusion.
There is a praise hymn which seems to sum up our thoughts for today: “In the presence of Jehovah, God Almighty, Prince of Peace, Troubles vanish, hearts are mended, in the Presence of the King. Through His love the Lord provided….
That is the key. It is in the presence of Jehovah we find all our answers to life’s problems.