Faith Amidst the World's Injustices
In this Bible study, we'll explore Psalm 73, a vivid passage that grapples with the age-old question: why do the wicked seem to prosper while the righteous suffer? We'll analyze it in three sections, always keeping our eyes focused on the New Covenant and the hope we find in Christ.
Section 1: Doubting Divine Justice (vs 1-14)
"Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong...This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence."
The Psalmist's struggle with doubt and envy when he saw the prosperity of the wicked.
His feelings of disillusionment and a perceived lack of reward for his own righteousness.
His crisis of faith, as he questions the fairness of God's providence.
Paul, too, in Romans 3:5, questions God's righteousness in the face of human wickedness. However, he concludes that God's justice is not ours to question. He also reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 that our temporary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory.
Have you ever found yourself doubting God's justice like the Psalmist? How did you deal with those feelings?
How do you reconcile the reality of wicked people prospering and righteous people suffering?
How can Paul's words in the New Testament comfort and assure us when we share the Psalmist's feelings of disillusionment?
Section 2: Divine Perspective (vs 15-22)
"When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin... When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you."
The Psalmist's enlightenment when he entered the sanctuary of God, understanding the final destiny of the wicked.
The revelation of divine justice - God's providence transcends our understanding.
His confession of his own ignorance and understanding of his bitterness.
Paul's teachings in 1 Corinthians 2:14 suggest that spiritual truths can only be discerned spiritually. In the book of Revelation, John also gives us a glimpse into the final destiny of the wicked (Revelation 20:11-15).
How does entering God's sanctuary (whether physical or spiritual) change our perspective on life's injustices?
What does it mean to you that God's providence transcends our understanding?
How does understanding the final destiny of the wicked provide comfort amidst earthly injustices?
Section 3: Assurance in God's Presence (vs 23-28)
"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you... But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds."
The Psalmist's assurance of God's presence and guidance.
The longing for God and heaven, rather than earthly desires.
The proclamation of faith - making God his refuge and testifying of His deeds.
In John 14:16-17, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to guide us and be with us forever. Paul also, in Philippians 3:20-21, declares that our true citizenship is in heaven.
How can we find assurance of God's presence in our lives like the Psalmist?
How can we develop a longing for God and heaven over earthly desires?
How can we make God our refuge and proclaim His deeds to those around us?
Through our study of Psalm 73, we see a shift from questioning God's justice to understanding His divine providence.
The Psalmist's journey is an echo of our own struggles and revelations. In the New Covenant, we find Christ who justifies us and overcomes the world's injustice (Romans 3:24-26, John 16:33).
We also have the promise of the Holy Spirit who guides and comforts us, regardless of the circumstances (John 14:16-17).
Lastly, as believers, our true desire and citizenship is not in this world but in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21), enabling us to look beyond earthly injustices to eternal glory.
Thus, in Christ, we find the answers to the struggle the Psalmist faced, giving us peace in the face of life's seeming unfairness.