Mark Fairweather Tall
Looking towards Sunday...
This Sunday we are looking at Psalm 73 – a psalm written by a man called Asaph. In the Psalm he admits that he is struggling to keep his faith. He goes on to say what the cause is of him nearly giving up: “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” V3 The ‘wicked’, as he calls them, don’t have the same struggles and they just seem to get richer and richer. As we read the Psalm, we will see how his outlook changed and his faith became strengthened once more.
Envy and dissatisfaction are at the heart of his problem. So often in our society we are encouraged to be dissatisfied. Consumerism relies on the principle of unlimited wants: no matter how much we have, we will always want a little bit more. Borrowing is commonplace. Taking out a loan seems to be so easy. I regularly receive junk mail encouraging me that I can afford what I know I can’t. As we cultivate an attitude of wanting more it can so easily spill over into dissatisfaction with what we do have. If we had the same job as someone else, or if we had their marriage partner, or if we had their health, or money, or if we had had their advantages in life, we would be better off and happier as a result. It is so easy to feel like the grass is greener on the other side.
As we continue to read the Psalm, we discover that Asaph has a complete reorientation in his thinking. First he changes his view on how rich those who don’t know God really are. He realises that whilst things might be good for them now, everything can change very suddenly because of life’s uncertainty and he knows that they don’t have the assurance of life beyond death. Secondly his attitude is changed. He understands that the complaints he was uttering and the dissatisfaction he was feeling were out of place before God. Thirdly, he has a changed view of God’s presence. He knows that God is with him every step in his life. By the end of the Psalm he has reaffirmed his faith and declares that he will tell others of God’s great deeds.
How does this change happen? The answer is clear in v17 – he was transformed in the sanctuary of God. It was in this context of prayer and worship that his outlook and understanding were shaped. As he worshipped he was open to the leading of God.
I wonder how many of us need a reorientation in our thinking? Do we suffer from dissatisfaction and ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome? Perhaps we too can discover transformation as we bring our worship to God.