One of the first Bibles I ever owned was the Harper Study Bible. Yes, it’s the RSV (Revised Standard Version). It was very handy in my formative years as a Christian. I still have it. In fact, while sorting belongings lately, I came across that Bible. I opened it and the page it opened to was Psalm 73.
Asaph, the writer of this psalm, was a noted whiner. He was “envious of the arrogant, when [he] saw the prosperity of the wicked.” As I looked at the page, I saw a section circled (by me). It was these verses:
10 Therefore the people turn and praise 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. 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 chastened every morning.
The note in the margin (again, written in by me) reads this way:
Read over and over and over again.
Introspection – pathetic self-centeredness.
I needed that reminder. I need that reminder. I have felt the same way as Asaph on numerous occasions. I feel that way now. So, I must keep reading. In verses 21and 22 Asaph describes us (him and me) like this: “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was stupid and ignorant, I was like a beast toward thee.” Yup.
But, I need to keep reading. Brother Asaph finished the Psalm in a better frame of mind, writing:
27 For lo, those who are far from thee shall perish; thou dost put an end to those who are false to thee. 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 thy works.
That’s the important part! That’s what I need to read often. That’s what I offer to you, too. It is good to be near God.
I actually preached on this psalm as my final sermon when I was at Covenant Seminary. I compared the psalmist to the blues singer. Asaph had the blues, it’s true. Unlike the bluesman, however, he also knew the answer for the blues. He knew that it is good to be near God. He is our only refuge.