August 4 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” ~Psalm 73:2-3

OLD TESTAMENT

Psalm 73

Why do the wicked have it so good while God’s people struggle? Asaph, one of the temple worship leaders under David, broods aloud over this age-old question.[1] He, his associates, and their successors (presumably people Asaph mentored) wrote many of the songs found in Book 3 and these are referred to as Asaphite psalms. In Psalm 73, he expresses his frustration with the prosperity of sinful people. “I had nearly lost my foothold,” he writes of his intense reaction (v. 2).

The primary message of the psalm is that God is in fact good to His people and the wicked do in fact face divine judgment. For a time, Asaph is guilty of judging a book based on one event in one chapter instead looking for and seeing the entire story. It’s a common mistake, one we all make. However, if we “read” (wait) long enough, what we will see is the goodness of God and His divine judgment on those who oppose Him. Rather than getting mired in exaggerated frustration—“they have no struggles” (v. 4)—we will break forth in extravagant praise when we realize the truth. The prosperity of the wicked is only temporary, but those who worship God will enjoy the presence of God now and forever. Do not lose heart when it seems sinners are doing so well. Remain devoted to the Lord your God, and rejoice that you have Him and His promised blessing forever. Wait and see, God is good to His people.

Psalm 74

This Asaphite psalm is grouped with others of a common theme, the “apparent” prosperity of the wicked. God’s people have been defeated by their enemies and their city overrun. By example, the psalmist teaches us that when we feel defeated, we can and should cry out to God in our pain. “Why have you rejected us forever O God? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?” (v. 1). The language is similar to Psalm 22, a psalm Jesus quoted while on the cross. It is a lament: God, why are You letting this happen to us? Why are You acting as though You are mad at us? The lament is followed by a prayer: “Remember the people you purchased of old” (v. 2).

When you feel you have been defeated or have been neglected by God, go ahead and express your pain. Cry out to Him in faith, and boldly ask Him to come to your aid. Remind Him of what He already knows: you are His child living your life for His glory so your cause and His cause are one and the same. “Rise up, O God, and defend your cause” (v. 22).

[1] Psalm 73 is written using what scholars of biblical literature call inclusio, the literary practice of beginning and ending with the same theme. Asaph begins the psalm with the statement “Surely God is good to Israel,” and ends the psalm with exclamations about His goodness. In between, his poetry describes how he arrived at this conclusion after a difficult struggle.

NEW TESTAMENT

The great church planter is writing to the church at Rome explaining that because of sin, people were enemies of God, but because of Christ, they can have peace with God. Paul’s writings emphasize the great doctrine of salvation through faith in Christ alone.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.