v19 It will take just a moment to destroy them!
Great *fear will sweep them away completely.
v20 It will be *like when you wake up from a dream.
*Lord, when you get up, you will forget that they were there!
v21 When my heart hurt me and my stomach was painful...
v22 ...I was *stupid and I knew nothing.
I was as an angry animal with you!
v23 But really I was always with you.
(Now) you hold me by my right hand.
v24 What you say to me will be my guide.
And then you will take me to *glory.
v25 I know nobody in *heaven except you.
And, with you, there is nothing (else) on earth that I want.
v26 My heart and my body may fail,
but God will always make me strong.
He is all that I will ever need.
v27 I am sure that people far from you will die.
You will destroy everybody that does not obey you.
v28 But it is good for me to be near to God.
I have made the master and *LORD my safe place.
I will tell (people) about the good things that you do.
The Story of Psalm 73
This is a psalm by *Asaph, or one that somebody wrote for him or his music group. You can read about *Asaph at the end of this psalm.
The *psalmist had a problem. Bad people had plenty of money and things. Good people did not. Why? Would it be better for him to be bad? Then he went into God’s house. There he understood that bad people would die, but good people would always live with God!
In this psalm, we have translated "bad people" as "*godless". This meant:
· before 500 BC, people who were not *Israelites
· after 500 BC, people who did not obey God and fought against him; it did not matter who they were
BC means years Before Christ came to live on the earth. About 500 BC was when many *Israelites returned home from the *exile. They came from Babylon.
So the *psalmist starts with what he had learned: God is good to the people whose hearts are clean.
What Psalm 73 means
The psalm is in three parts. They all start with the same word in *Hebrew: ak. It means "surely". We have translated it "I am sure" in verse 1 and "I was sure" in verses 13 and 18.
Verses 1 – 12: The *psalmist (maybe *Asaph) starts with what he thinks is true. "God is good to Israel", verse 1. He then says whom he means by Israel. It is not everyone that lives in that land. It is only those "whose hearts are clean". This means the people that love and obey God. There are other people in Israel that do not love and obey God. He calls these "the *godless", verse 3. The *godless had plenty of money and things. God did not seem to *punish them. This made *Asaph angry! He also wanted plenty of things. He almost stopped loving and obeying God. That is what "my feet nearly *slipped and I almost fell over" means, verse 2. The important words are "nearly" and "almost". God did not let the *psalmist fall. God was with the *psalmist, even if the *psalmist did not believe it.
Then *Asaph tells us more about the *godless:
· they have plenty to eat and drink so they are fat (or *healthy), verse 4
· when they die they do not have a lot of pain like some people, verse 4
· they make everyone see that they think that they are important, verse 6 (*necklace and clothes are what people see)
· they are *proud (which means they think that they are important), verse 7 and they *oppress people (or are not kind to them), verse 8
· they say that everything in *heaven and earth belongs to them, verse 9
All this makes "his people turn to them", verse 10. The *Hebrew Bible does not say who "his people" are, or "them". Many Bible students think that it means this: God’s people (whose hearts are clean) want to be *like the *godless. They want this so that they too can have plenty of money and things. They "drink everything", verse 10, or "do everything the *godless do". Then they ask each other if God knows what they have done, verse 11. The answer is God does know because he is with his people.
Some Bible students think that it is the *godless that ask the questions in verse 11. The *Hebrew Bible only reads "they". But the answer is the same: God knows about them also! This part of the psalm finishes with "the *godless have no trouble and plenty of money", verse 12.
Verses 13 – 17: Now *Asaph tells us his thoughts. He "almost fell over", verse 2, but he did not really fall over. As he says in verse 23, "I was always with you (God)". But he did want what the *godless had. We say that they "*tempted" him. He even wrote in verse 13 that "his heart was clean for no good purpose". This means that it was a waste of time being a good *Israelite! But he did not *slip and fall over, verse 2, for several reasons:
· when the *godless *tempted him, he felt bad, verse 14
· he would have hurt the good *Israelites (or "let them down"), verse 15
· he wanted to understand why it happened, verse 16
So he went to the house of God. Maybe this was the *temple in Jerusalem. We know *Asaph went there, 2 Chronicles 5:12. Maybe it was another house of God. It does not matter where it was, or when. The *psalmist saw what would happen to the *godless. He tells us in the last part of the psalm.
Verses 18 – 28: God would surprise the *godless, verses 18-20 and 27. In a moment, God would destroy them. One minute they would be there, the next minute they would not! It would be *like a dream. When you wake up, it has gone, verse 20. The verse says that it is God that wakes up to find them gone. It is true for God’s people also.
The *psalmist was sorry, verses 21-22. He knew nothing! He was *stupid! He was *like a wild animal! His heart (thoughts) and his stomach (body) had hurt him, but it was all his fault! (Fault means "doing wrong".) God was with him all the time and that was the most important thing in life, verses 23-26. Look at what he wrote about it:
· God would hold his hand and be his guide, verses 23-24
· God would take him to *glory, verse 24
· God would give him everything on earth he needed, verses 25-26
· God would make him strong, verse 26
Christians believe that "take me to *glory" in verse 24 means "take me to *heaven". This is because only God has *real *glory and God’s home is *heaven. The word "*glory" means "something that shines very much".
So the *psalmist made God his "safe place", verse 28. Another word for "safe place" is "*refuge". It is a place where you can find shelter. In a storm, a shelter will keep the wind and rain off you. In the storms of life (the bad things that happen) God will keep you safe. This is what the *psalmist believed. It is better to be "near to God" than to have plenty of money and things. In a moment they will all be gone, but God will always be with us!