by Pr. Paddick Van Zyl
(Johannesburg, South Africa)
Pr's Paddick & Roelien Van Zyl LDMI
Sermon by Pr. Paddick Van Zyl
6 Oct , 2014
Title: The Mirage (Psalm 73)
A beggar standing on a street corner commented to his friends, “If only I had a hundred dollars, I would never complain again.” A businessman walking by overheard his statement and interrupted the conversation. “Excuse me,” the man said. “Did you say if you had a hundred dollars, you would never complain again?” The beggar replied, “You heard right, mister.” The man pulled out his wallet, handed him a hundred dollars, and said, “I’m glad I can have a small part in bringing happiness to the world.” After the man walked away, the beggar turned to his friends and remarked, “I wish I had asked for two hundred dollars!” Kent Crockett ###
Psalm 73:1-28 NKJV
We have all seen the comic strips in newspapers where the guy crawls through the desert- no food or water for days, then suddenly he sees this awesome green oasis with water and food in abundance - paradise, just to be disillusioned when he gets closer....that is what a mirage does...it plays tricks on the mind....it makes you believe in something that is not real.
Seven = Used 735 times (54 times in the book of Revelation alone), the number 7 is the foundation of God's word. Seven is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual). It derives much of its meaning from being tied directly to God’s creation of all things. #
Three = The number 3 is used 467 times in the Bible. It pictures completeness, though to a lesser degree than 7. . Three is the number of resurrection.
Psalm 73 was written by Asaph, the choir master, one of 3 musicians, of king David. His name means: gatherer or collector.
In short, Psalm 73 gives us a vivid picture of the way the wicked lives and what their future looks like compared to the righteous and what our future looks like.
Verse 2 states that Asaph's feet almost stumbled- he nearly slipped... was is very slippery where he stood writing this Psalm? Not at all...
Verse 3 states the reason- he was envious of the wicked, the proud, the boastful. Envy is the mirage, one of many in life, that causes us to stumble and loose our footing of faith. It is a major trap used by the enemy to get us to focus on unimportant things- it distracts us from God's Word,plan and purpose in our life...
Verses 4 through 12 explains how the wicked live. How easy they have it, verse 7 says 'their eyes bulge with abundance...'. Verse 9 says that they curse and speak evil, they say and think that God does not know what they do. Verse 12 says that they are always at ease, increasing in riches... And we all know people that we come across and live like this portion of Scripture explains.
As Ray Stedman says: 'They boast in their abilities and throw their weight around by threats and ostentatious displays of influence and connections in the "right" places.'##
They say and do what they want, no regard for anyone but themselves. The sad part is, many times Christians, envy what the ungodly and wicked have and do....
Asaph too was envious. He watched them day by day and began longing for what they have and started questioning his own relationship with God. So many times believers tend to do the same. The alluring luster and sparkle of sin attracks us, beckons to us to come closer and taste the good life.
Asasph had a real battle as can be seen in verses 13-16. He had a 'mind battle' about the life of the righteous. Ray Stedman comments as follows on the battle Asaph faced: 'What was bothering this man was the apparent contradiction between what he had been taught in the Scripture -- that God was good to the upright and to those who were pure in heart -- and his experience in life. He was envious, he said, of the arrogant, and disturbed by the prosperity of the wicked. That prosperity seemed to him to be a direct contradiction to what he had been taught about God. He had been told that if you are "upright and pure in heart," that is, you had learned to lay hold of the righteousness which God provides and were cleansed by his grace, then God would be good to you, take care of you, and watch over you.
But instead this man was finding his own situation to be difficult and very discouraging, but the wicked around him, the ungodly (and that is always the meaning of "wicked" in the psalms), were seeming to prosper and everything was going well with them. This bothered him greatly. He could not reconcile this. It troubled him so terribly that it created a deep resentment and envy in his heart. This in turn became such a threat to his faith that ultimately he found himself threatened with a complete loss of faith.' ## Asaph has a New Testament counterpart or friend in Demas, Paul's companion who forsook him and traded Paul for the world....2 Timothy 4:12 NKJV.
'There are many who feel this way. They say, "What's the use of being a Christian? There's no advantage to it. You read the Bible, go to church, and try to obey the Lord and seek fellowship with him, but what happens? Everything goes wrong. Nothing good happens at all." It is all made worse by the fact that those who have no concern for God at all seem to have few difficulties.' ##
And then verse 17 is the crux if this Psalm. It tells us how Asaph solved his problem and got an answer to his dilemma.
He saw in the temple, how God sees things. He received perspective. Very important word this- Perspective. It makes us zoom out of the detail, the tiny bit we see immediately in front of us and gives us a bird's view of how things really are from a distance away. A truck driver has a definite advantage over a motorist or cyclist. They may be faster to maneuver through traffic but the truck driver can see way ahead if there are any traffic jams or accidents to avoid, even though the truck may be way slower and more difficult to maneuver....
Verse 18 says God sets the wicked in slippery places, they are cast down to destruction and ruin: 'They seem to be getting along fine, outwardly, but inwardly it is quite a different story. This explains why we so frequently read of some prominent person, whom everyone is acclaiming, who suddenly and unexpectedly commits suicide. Movie stars have done this frequently. Why is this? It is because inside they had been set in slippery places. There was nothing to hold onto. Though outwardly they maintained a facade of happiness, inwardly they began to fall apart and at last they come to an end. They can no longer stand life; they can no longer stand themselves. We see this happening so frequently today; those who have maintained an outward facade of prosperity and carefree living are inwardly torn up, despairing, and suddenly come to an end.' ##
Asaph did the following to remedy his mind battle:
*He did not discourage others with his doubt/negative thinking and attitude, he watched his words and kept quiet v. 15-16
*He went to God v. 17
*He re-evalutaed himself, acknowledged that he was foolish, and went back to see how his thinking was corroded and changed the way he saw life v.21-22
* He realizes anew that God loves him, guides him and has a plan for his life and that his future is secure in God, he realizes what and who he is in God v.23-26
Asaph finally realizes that all he needs, all he is and all that will satisfy is God, to whom he already belongs: 'His conclusion is, God does keep his word. "The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine." God does exactly what he says he will do. He is good to those who are upright and to those who have found purity of heart in him. He keeps them. Those who are far from him shall perish; but those who draw nigh to God are established and kept. So his resolve is, "But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all thy works."'##
James 4:8 (Read)
'William Randolph Hearst, who built the great Hearst castle near Morro Bay, and searched the world for beautiful objects d'art to fill it with, had a standing rule that no guest in his home could ever mention the word death. Each night he was afraid to go to sleep because he was tormented by the fear of death. Let us remember this about the ungodly rich.' ##
Asaph first saw the end of the wicked: distress, uncertainty, eternity without God's love, the flames of hell, despair before he saw the end of the righteous in Christ: glory divine, rest, peace, joy, life eternally and eternity in God's loving presence....'Have you come to the place where you can say, "God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee."
Here is a man who has seen the utter adequacy of God. God can meet your need in loneliness, in despair, in frustration, in disappointment, in sorrow, in life and in death. In every situation or condition of life God is able to meet you and to supply all that you need. No one else can do this'##, only God through Christ Jesus...do not sucumb to envy, to what the world does and has to offer. It is fleeting and brings death....in Jesus alone is life, peace and blessings eternal.
##Ray C Stedman Expository studies. www.studylight.org
###Kent Crockett, I Once Was Blind But Now I Squint, Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2004, 25. www.kentcrockett.com