Faithlife Sermons

Psalm 73: "A Thanksgiving Portion from God"

Notes
Transcript

Introduction

This Thanksgiving weekend where are you on the scale of thanksgiving?
Are you the type of person who is full of thanksgiving because as you look around you there is much to be thankful for in your world?
Is your world today seem hard and you are looking to God and you know you are to be thankful, yet the worries of the world and the circumstance you find yourself in today, it seems hard to be thankful.
Does true thanksgiving come from a person’s temperament?
We define two different types of people, optimist and a pessimist.
I have to tell you this story, it gives you a clear picture of thanksgiving. I went walking with a friend in the early part of the morning and as he met up with me, he stated, “You won’t believe how God blessed me today.” He then showed me that he had found a $20 bill on the ground. As he was feeling rather blessed, he then stated, I think God gave this to me today so that I can bless someone with it who needs it. I paused for a moment, then said, “Thank-you” We laughed and continued walking.
At the end of our walk, he reached into his pocket only to find that the $20 was gone. He lost it. We retraced some of our walk hoping that pulling out his phone a few paces back was when he lost it, but we did not find it. The response. “Well, I guess God is going to bless someone else with finding it, and not through me giving it.”
Do we approach blessings from God in this way? The funny thing is, my friend is a true optimist.
The next day we went for the same walk and the whole time he was looking for the bill, and stated, “Wouldn’t it be great if we saw that $20, maybe we will find it again.”
How do we view thanksgiving?
Is our view affected by our circumstance, our personality, or is true thankful heart come from God.
Is our Thanksgiving a portion from God?
This morning we are going to begin looking into book three of the Psalms.
As you recall, I have been showing you a different way to look at the Psalms, through a different lens. Book one, if you recall are a collection of Psalms about the rise and establishment of the King in the lives of the people. Psalms from David, about David and the hint that a King will be coming one day that will be far better than any earthly king.
Book Two has Psalms arranged around the theme of the Failing of the Kingship. The hopes and dreams that people had as they cried out to God that they wanted a King and now it is not working as they had hoped.
Remember this new lens of the arrangement of the Psalms will helps us retrace the lives of the people of God.
But now,
We are now entering into Book three in the collection of Psalms. This section is much smaller than the others, and its a good thing.
You see this section is dealing with the time in the people’s lives where they were in Exile from their promised land and in some of their lives, exile from God’s presence.
What a great way to celebrate thanksgiving.
Apparent Doom and Gloom.
Before we continue and look into God’s Word,
Let’s Pray
Turn with me if you would to Psalm 73
This morning we are going to be reading the Psalm in sections. With Thanksgiving upon us, I want to take us through the concept of prosperity from the Psalmist’s eyes.
When you read these verses, I want for you to have in the back of your mind, a proper view of prosperity as the Psalmist speaks God’s Words this morning and we will discover what it means to have a thanksgiving portion from God
Psalm 73:1–3 ESV
1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Prosperity in Life

The Psalmist, opens up his verse with a strong recognition of both God and of himself. Its an honest account of how he is feeling at that moment in time.
One person wrote by saying:
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 5: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs Psalm 73: The Suffering of God’s Children and the Goodness of God

This psalm is a moving autobiographical reflection on the suffering of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked

Have you ever reflected on the concept of the apparent prosperity of the wicked.
I know that many of us, in comparison to the world are quite rich, but there are those in this side of the country that are exceedingly rich.
They seem to have in all in place when we look at the wealth they have acquired and for a moment in time we can begin to identify with this Psalmist as he reflects and gives an honest answer to God.
“I was envious of the arrogant.”
folks, we don’t have to look vary far around us to discover people in whom we can become envious.
If we are truly honest with ourselves, has there been a time in your life when you looked upon someone good fortune and had a tiny bit of envy?
Here we find the Psalmist at one point in his life,
was envious of the arrogant.
He knew in comparison to God they can’t stand, yet he had in that moment, he recognized a slipping to their side.
Proverbs 23:17 ESV
17 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.
This would have been ringing in his ear as he was drawn to those thoughts and they are a reminder to us, by the honesty of the Psalmist
when we feel like the Psalmist,in those moments, that we too can look to God’s Word for our help and our strength
As the Psalmist continues, we find this
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 5: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Psalm 73: The Suffering of God’s Children and the Goodness of God)
The psalmist struggles within himself as to the appropriate response to evil and injustice in the world. His vivid description of the wicked moves him to greater despair until he reflects on his God.
Remember Jeremiah
Jeremiah 12:1 ESV
1 Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
So now the Psalmist begins to outline the prosperity in life and contrast the two different ways. The two ways are the righteous life and the wicked’s life

Wicked’s Life

The Psalmist after acknowledging to God his offense with the almighty, by being envious of the prosperity of the wicked, he then begins to describe what their prosperity looks like.
Look at the next verses.
Psalm 73:4–7 ESV
4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. 7 Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies.
They have no pangs. Some of the translations call these struggles with the bodies.
These verses are written to remind us that these are all external appearances of the wicked’s life, as we can see them.
If you are going down the road like the Psalmist did, those external appearance can be deceiving.
On the outside, the prosperity of the wicked’s life may look good, desiring and even tempting to wish we had,
it is at that moment the Psalmist begins to describe from our viewpoint, followers of God. You see we now see their actions.
It moves from an outward appearance to an inward desires of the heart.
ps 73:8-12
Psalm 73:8–12 ESV
8 They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. 9 They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. 10 Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. 11 And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.
It is truly amazing how quickly arrogance can slip into one’s life. You see the Psalmist now moves from a description that he sees them as to how the prosperity of the wicked begin to proclaim the goodness themselves.
The prosperity of the wicked becomes a reality for them and they begin to take credit for themselves.
They use their current prosperity to cast a loftiness or downcast look upon others.
I love the description, “Their tongues strut through the earth”
We really don’t have to look very far to see this in the world, do we.
Just turn to the news and you will find someone, somewhere who feels they are superior to others because of their prosperity.
The Psalmist continues to describe their influence. People turn to them.
It is truly amazing that time and time again, we fall into this trap. Looking for prosperity and turn to that as a cure for what we need.
Do you sometimes feel, “If I only had......”
better health
better job
Better ...... you fill in the blanks
The key point that the Psalmist is telling us, comes in the central purpose of prosperity of the wicked.
They want it to be about them.
Think about that for a moment.
The wicked’s prosperity is about them. They talk about themselves. They boast about themselves.
People are drawn to them for their appearance of success.
Before we get too lofty in our describing people out there. Those wicked people in the world, we need to stop for a moment and begin to look at followers of Christ.
Stop for a moment, in our thanksgiving do we celebrate what we have done.
When we take credit for the many blessings God has given us or the gifts and talents he has placed on our lives and we run with them.
You don’t have to look very far in the world of believers to see this happen. Godly people who at the beginning are out serving God, soon take that prosperity and turn it upon themselves.
They take the credit. They have followers.
People find no fault in them.
In other words, there is a lack of accountability in their lives.
Can we slip into the prosperity life of the wicked, yes,
The Psalmist is writing these out for us not only for a description of who
THEY are, but what WE could become.
Without a true thanksgiving portion from God, we can be like the psalmist and begin to slip.
We must stop for a moment and pause, Are we on this path?
If we recognize that we are on this path, how do we stop.
Here is how
Do we have people in our lives that are willing to come to us and tell us when we are flirting with this type of behaviour.
Are you in a cord of three, a group that prays together to encourage one another together, to hold you accountable. Are you open to let people speak into your life?
Honestly, if your sitting here this morning and you are thinking, that is for someone else, I don’t need people in my life, God deals with me, I listen to his Word, His speaking in my life.
Be careful.
God does do that, but an accountability friend, who you allow to step into your life and is willing to hold you accountable, will keep you from every walking down that Prosperity of the wicked.

Righteous’ life

So knowing that, what does the Psalmist say about the prosperity of the righteous life?
The Psalmist began by saying he almost was there. My steps nearly stumbled, I nearly slipped.
I almost went to the dark side. It’s a warning, begging us not to go there.
One person has been known to say.
“Doubt is to unbelief what temptation is to sin. A test, but not yet a surrender”- Clements pg 74
The best defense to staying on the road of Prosperity in Life of the righteous life is to fully understand what it looks like.
Look at this description
Psalm 73:13–15 ESV
13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
It all begins with a heart that is pure.
A heart that is willing to go before God and allowing God to clean that heart.
To remove anything that is lofty.
To remove those thoughts, actions, that drive us to feel we need to be in the prosperity life of the wicked.
Yet, the Psalmist at this point is still wondering.
Still asking Why.
Why do they , the wicked, seem to be prosperous in life.
as one person said, “he was puzzled that God seems to prosper the wicked and punish the righteous” - Bible Knowledge commentary.
If you had that as a question, you are in good company.
The psalmist had that thought as well,
and then continued by saying this.
Psalm 73:16–17 ESV
16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.

Prosperity in the End

Which leads us to the prosperity in the end.
The Psalmist took the concern to the presence of God. His Sanctuary.
This weekend, a weekend where many of us would gather with friends and family and I hope the you spend some time celebrating all that you are prospering with in this world.
We take once a year to celebrate a heart of thanksgiving, but as we see with the Psalmist, this began a journey for his whole life.
You see he began to put the issue of prosperity in perspective.
Psalm 73:18–22 ESV
18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. 21 When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.

The Destination of the Wicked

The prosperity in life is short lived and the because we see the prosperity in the end. Specifically the wicked.
You see the slippery slope they hare heading on. The begin to build confidence in the wrong things.
Their confidence is in self and what they have accomplished, but the Psalmist reminds us,
that will one day be gone.
There is coming a day in which those things of the earth will fade away and only God will be there.
They will stand in the presence and be held accountable for their actions.
One commentary writes,

Rather than seeing the success of the wicked, God shows the psalmist their horrible end. While he thought that he was slipping (see v. 2), it was really the wicked who were on “slippery places,” since they will be “cast down” to “destruction,” literally, to “deceptive ground.” In other words, their foundation is insecure. They are building on the sand, and the storms will level them (see Matt. 7:24–27). Moreover, this catastrophe will happen “in a moment” (v. 19): “Here today, gone tomorrow.” Then the wicked will be “utterly consumed” or literally, “they have been completed”; “they have been ended.” But what are the “terrors” that bring this about? One possibility is human evil; another is demonic attack (see Job 18:14). Whatever the means of their destruction, however, the ultimate cause is divine judgment. Thus in verse 20 it is God who “awakes”; that is, He now acts and despises either the image of the wicked or the image of their idols.

The message is clear. Death will reveal the true condition of those who “speak loftily” and “set their mouth against the heavens” (vv. 8–9). God, not humankind, has the last word. It is in His temple where the ultimate truth will be told. Likewise, today, if we don’t hear the truth in our churches, where will we hear it? Understanding comes in sub mission to His Word and will.

Fortunately for us, the Psalmist doesn’t leave us in this moment.
Psalm 73:23–26 ESV
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

The Destination of the Righteous

Nevertheless, God does not treat the psalmist according to his own feelings.
Rather, as he is with the Lord, he is held by His right hand
This is also shown in the Psalms the picture of God’s ability to have everything in control.
Psalm 63:8 ESV
8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
He is also guided by divine “counsel,” receiving direction.
Where do you go when you are struggling with issues. Divine council is found directly in the very Word of God.
God’s Word should be our fist stop in seeking to deal with life and how we should respond.
And he will find his end in “glory,” receiving exaltation. All of this is in sharp contrast to the wicked, whose future is destruction (see v. 18). In the final end, “eschatologically,” theory and practice become one.
One person wrote,
Before the ultimate issues of life and death, the psalmist recognizes that all that he has is God (vv. 25–26). Heaven is heaven because God is there. As the old retired pastor said at my grandmother’s funeral, “I don’t know much about heaven. But heaven is where Jesus is and that’s enough.” Earth also finds its meaning in the presence of God: “There is none upon earth that I desire besides You.” The verb desire means “to delight in, to have pleasure in.” God is the object of the psalmist’s passion. Although his humanity (“my flesh and my heart”) fails or has been “consumed” or “spent,” it is God who is his “strength” (literally, “the rock of my heart”) and “portion [“share”, “provision,” that is, “life”] forever.” Thus he is held in both time and eternity by the eternal God who alone satisfies. As Peter replied to Jesus when asked if he too would follow the offended crowd and go away: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). ---Williams, D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1989). Psalms 73–150 (Vol. 14, pp. 20–21). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.

Prosperity of Life

So how then should we live our lives? Is our life about having a thanksgiving only once a year or is there more?
What is the prosperity of Life?
Proverbs tells us,
Proverbs 23:17 ESV
17 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.
The Psalmist concluded with the prosperity of our life.
Psalm 73:27–28 ESV
27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
A thankful heart comes when we have a clear understanding of God, our portion is from HIM.
Stated this way

73:27–28. Asaph concluded that those who are far from God and are unfaithful will be destroyed, but that those who are near God find joy and safety. Though he had nearly slipped in his confidence in God (cf. v. 2) he now was reassured that God was keeping him secure. God was his Refuge (maḥseh, “shelter from danger”; cf. 14:6; 46:1; 61:3; 62:7–8; 71:7; 91:2, 9). Nearness to God always helps believers maintain a balanced perspective on material things and on the wicked.

Conclusion

As the worship team comes forward to lead us in a response to worship in the word, let me ask you this.
Are you seeking a Thanksgiving portion from God today?
Have you turned your life over to the one who delivers and provides true thanksgiving. To be eternally with Him.
are you thoughts the same as the Psalmist as he states:
ps 73:28 “28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”
Today, during the song or after, if you are wanting to have prayer, feel to make your way to the front, and I would be happy to spend a few moments with you.

Response to Worship

Benediction

2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
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