David could be tempted to have unbelief like any of us. So he made the sacrifice of praise and turned it into the celebration of promise. His worship invited the answer of God and he was not disappointed.
Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Psalm 73:1-5
God is good to Israel but David was letting his faith slip away. When he saw evil men living in wealth and comfort, it was easy to be jealous. These are the people who have time and money to join the gym and stay tanned and fit. They don’t get pulled over for traffic stops if they drive through a ritzy neighborhood. Even if they commit a crime there is bail money, lawyers, and affordable elected officials to slip them out of jail. The bankers and politicians make laws to expedite their own prosperity.
Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. Psalm 73:6-10
The wealthy can kill others and get off with a slap or less. They have materials deliberately chosen to upstage the slightly less wealthy. They have no morals and talk above other people. They let their words run against man and God with impunity. They tempt others to join their sin and offer them the cup of their poison even as the people of Jonestown were given.
And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. Psalm 73:11-15
How does God know what evil is done? These people acknowledge that God is alive and yet assume he is ignorant of their larceny. David wants none of this stolen gain, and pays by being among the oppressed. If he is tempted to rail against the oppressors he could cause others to stumble into that same sin.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 1 Corinthians 5:11
We are to trust God for judgment, and not to usurp his authority to reward evil. To become vigilantes to help God is to display unbelief.
When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. Psalm 73:16-20
Living with the knowledge of the prosperity of evil nearly overwhelmed David. But when he entered the sanctuary of praise God revealed his preparations for the workers of inequity. The kings of the hill will find the slope dropping off under their feet when God awakens to his mission.
Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. Psalm 73:21-25
David was prodded to emotion like a horse with a bur in the saddle. God had a hand on the reins to keep him calm in the face of great offense. I am amazed at the ability of dogs and horses to trust us, and so we should also be at ease with God’s counsel. Who else shelters and feeds us and leads us in safe ways?
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. Psalm 73:26-28
Human nature is weak enough to need supernatural help. Flesh is drawn to bad conclusions and fears while faith in God delivers special understanding of our circumstances. For those who hate God that revelation is missing and leads to destruction. Wealth from deceit does not bring life but moving close to God allows David to rebuild his faith and to tell the world of a good God.
O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt. Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary. Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs. Psalm 74:1-4
David thought his world was abandoned. He asks God to remember his covenant with Israel. He asks God to stomp on the evil works of these cockroaches. The enemies of God are waving their flag on the sanctuary. Is there anger from heaven against America? I wonder how it looks when we form alliances with the devil in foreign policy. Do our “friends” deal in drugs and cruelty?
A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees. But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers. They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling place of thy name to the ground. They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land. We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long. O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever? Psalm 74:5-10
If men were anointed to sculpture as a work unto the Lord should the heathen tear their testimony down? The temple is built on the testimony of faithful generations and the unfaithful fully intend to tear down the house and the name of God. David wants to know how long God will be quiet. Perhaps our generation will be a witness.
Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck it out of thy bosom. For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers. Psalm 74:11-15
David calls on God to draw his right hand into action. He speaks of God as his King, even as David has talked of this king in earlier Psalms. He knows that this king is the creator and the destroyer. This is the king that puts nature under authority. By now we know who this king is.
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Acts 2:32-36
Is there any question that a storm is gathering? And if Israel is charged with crucifying their own messiah, is the world any less guilty today? They exalt their version of good against the word of God and demolish the works of generations of faith. Our leaders have turned away from the hope of Israel.
The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter. Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O LORD, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name. O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever. Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. Psalm 74:16-20
Nothing is beyond the power of God who moved the creation of the universe. David asks God to remember the insults of his enemies. David asks God not to leave the righteous under oppression and poverty. He reminds God of the cruelty hiding in dark places.
O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise thy name. Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily. Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually. Psalm 74:121-23
If the prayers of a righteous man are heard, those of a man after God’s own heart have weight. If David has asked God to remember his own honor and to fulfill his own will then this will be. God already ordained this, and David only offers a reminder, but the timing belongs to God. We already know what Daniel and John wrote about these coming events. Now we know that we may witness the deliverance of the oppressed faithful, perhaps in our time.