Psalm 73:1–5, 12–20, 25–28comment (0)
October 22, 2009
By Douglas Wilson
Related Scripture: Psalm 73:1–5, 12–20, 25–28
Explore the Bible
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
WHEN I HAVE DOUBTS
Psalm 73:1–5, 12–20, 25–28
Book Three in the songbook of Israel begins with Psalm 73. This section has recurring names mentioned in the superscriptions, including Asaph and the sons of Korah, as well as singular compositions by Heman and Ethan. These were musicians from the tribe of Levi in the time of King David as indicated by Exodus 6:18–24 and 1 Chronicles 15:19 and 25:1. This week’s lesson is from Psalm 73, and it addresses the issue of doubts.
College students are often challenged about faith issues. They have often been brought up to know some Scripture, some church teaching and some practices of their denomination. They may know what they believe, but they do not really know why. Their lack of knowledge often leads to doubt and sometimes to denial of the faith. Whether you are a student at a university, a Bible teacher or a passing reader of this article, you need to know that God is not threatened by your doubts. You may see inconsistencies between what church members say and do, or you may be confronted with individuals who are convinced that the Bible is full of errors and is untrustworthy. God’s Word is true and when you know the truth, the truth will make you free.
Admit Your Doubts (1–5, 12)
The psalmist confessed the goodness of God, a quality that sets Him apart from everything and everyone else. He continued by confessing his envy of those who choose wickedness. After all, they seemed to do anything they wanted without consequences. Israel, on the other hand, had trouble everywhere it turned. Like Tevye, the main character in “Fiddler on the Roof,” who laments the suffering that the Jews face for being God’s chosen people, the psalmist seems to be saying, “Once in awhile, can’t you choose someone else?”
Doubts arise when the foundations of our reality are shaken. We seek to witness to an intellectual atheist, an apathetic agnostic, a Buddhist or a Muslim who offers objections at every turn. Sometimes believers read the Bible and face honest questions about the meaning or application of Scripture. These raise doubts in their minds about what is true, right and real. Why should believers continue to follow Jesus while unbelievers seem to have all the fun, fortune and fame? Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Jesus was so poor that He did not have a pillow upon which to lay His head. Jesus was so famous that He was tried at night, publicly beaten and humiliated and murdered between two men sentenced for capital crimes.
Adjust Your Perspective (13–20)
The composer of this song was set apart as a gifted musician, a minister for God by virtue of being born into the tribe of Levi and an heir of the Abrahamic covenant. He had responsibilities and access to the tabernacle, where the sacrifices were presented to the Lord as substitutionary atonement for the sins of the people. He did not go through ceremonial cleansing for nothing. He did not serve as an ambassador for Yahweh God in vain. He recognized that Israel was not hopeless but only after he “entered God’s sanctuary” (17).
So often, we who follow Jesus approach life from our own perspective rather than God’s. Like looking into the wrong end of a telescope, we think that what we face is looming large. When we look to God, however, we see Him as too small to meet our needs. Like looking at the underside of a cross-stitch design, sometimes we see only knots and loose ends, rather than a masterpiece in the making. When we begin looking at life from above, we see things as they are. Like this Levite composer, our understanding will change when we see that God is in control.
Acknowledge God’s Faithfulness (25–28)
The psalmist closed this song with a simple message: God is all I need. Nothing in the heavens compares, and no one on earth measures up. He is everything I need: my desire, strength, portion, good and refuge. When I cannot stand, God is my strength. When I have no more supplies, He is my Provider and my provision. Because I can run to Him, I am safe to tell others of God’s faithfulness.