The human heart is prone to wander…the desires of the heart are often difficult to discern…our affections are so fickle. We want what we want and we want it now. However what we want at any given moment can turn on a dime. The heart has an uncanny ability to transition quickly to the next fleeting desire. It’s almost as though our hearts are on a mission to test everything under the Sun to see what, if anything, can satisfy it.
In Psalm 73, Asaph is feeling tossed about by the seas of his fleeting heart. He knows that God is good to those who are pure in heart. He also has correctly diagnosed his heart as being full of impurity because he envies the wicked, who seem to prosper in the midst of all of their wicked pursuits. He openly questions the wisdom of pursuing a pure heart before God. He is embittered and in danger of slipping and falling into the raging sea of dissatisfaction. When we come to verse 16 he is at his wits end. He writes, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task…” He’s tired and worn out from trying to wrestle with the envious desires of his heart…trying to understand why the wicked seem to prosper and why he should continue to pursue the purity of his own heart.
Have you been there? I remember being invited by a friend to go out on his boat on Lake Michigan one afternoon. We got out on the Lake and the waves were choppy and I began to feel sick to my stomach. With every wave that rocked the boat, my stomach seemed to rock the other direction causing a, not-so-good, stirring in my gut. I just wanted relief from the disturbances of the lake. With every wave of discontent that crashes up against our hearts, which are seeking peace and contentment with God, there is a disturbance that causes our soul to turn a little bitter. We see the rebellious having their way, getting their gain, living in peace with the world and we may openly wonder, “Why am I seeking a pure heart again?” We don’t have a try very hard to relate to Asaph. It’s easy to track with him. Like him, we realize that something has to change. We can’t live with this queasiness and instability for very long.
WE NEED AN ENCOUNTER
Something does change for him. By the time Asaph writes verse 17 he’s weary and worn out. He knows the complexities of his own heart. He knows the complexities of trying to understand why the wicked seem to prosper. His weary heart is about to pivot in a new direction. He says, “…it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their (the wicked’s) end.” Answers come to him in the sanctuary where he encounters the God who created the human heart and discerns every heart correctly. Asaph looked at the wicked and he longed for what seemed like their prosperity, what looked like their happiness, and for what appeared to be their peace. When God sheds the light of His eternal reality on the situation all of what appeared to be prosperity, happiness, and peace was exposed. In the sanctuary of God, the Lord unveils what is underneath the surface, what is behind the curtain, the destruction that is coming on the children of disobedience.
This is one of the reasons why we must come to the church house and why we must get into the Word of God every day. Our hearts are seeking the Lord in this world, but we are swimming upstream against the current of a world that quickly tosses us off-center. We need to be reminded. We need to have our hearts refocused on the Lord. We are still prone to be rocked by the waves of our discontented hearts. We still are prone to seek satisfaction and fulfillment in the stuff of this world that promises so much and delivers so little. When we meet the Lord in the sanctuary and the light of His Word shines upon our understanding we can then be reshaped and reoriented to eternal realities that we quickly lose sight of otherwise. When we encounter the Lord in the sanctuary our floundering hearts are set on a steady and fixed course once again. We become anchored to the rock of our refuge.
WE SEE WITH A NEW CLARITY OF VISION (Psalm 73:18-20)
The wicked appear to be stable in the moment, but underneath the surface of what appears to be their prosperity, they are balancing on slippery places and at any moment they will fall to their our ruin and destruction.
WE OPENLY CONFESS OUR SIN OF WANDERING (Psalm 73:21-22)
We are able to see the bitterness of our own soul. We sense our ingratitude before God. Our conscience is pricked by the Spirit who convicts of sin. We see our shortsightedness and we confess it before God.
WE CONSECRATE OUR DIRECTION BACK TO GOD (Psalm 73:23-24)
We recommit our hearts back to God. We recognize His wise counsel and guidance and we once again take his hand and trust his heart to lead us to a glory that goes beyond this world.
WE CORRECT THE DESIRES OF OUR HEARTS (Psalm 73:25-28)
We once again see and savor God as the chief desire of our heart and we set our affections upon him and him alone. We recognize that there is none like him. Nothing can satisfy our hearts like God. He is our portion and our strength. This is the pure heart and God is good to those who are pure in heart.
WE BECOME CONFESSORS OF THAT WHICH IS PURE (Psalm 73:28)
The wicked can have their slippery rock of worldly peace, worldly prosperity, and worldly happiness. It’s all a sham. Underneath the surface of their so-called peace there is a storm swelling that is going to throw them off kilter and destroy them unless they have an encounter with the living God.
“But for me it is good to be near to God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”
Psalm 73 ultimately points us to Jesus, who is pure in heart and perfect in righteousness. He is our purity and perfection. He is the satisfier of our hearts desires. He is the anchor of our souls. May we trust him will all of our heart.