In eternity, the rich and arrogant will have a terrible destiny. But pure happiness comes not from wealth but from being close to the LORD God.
A Psalm by Asaph.
VERSE 1. Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
Surely God is good. Do you believe that God is good?
those who are pure in heart. This reminds us of something the Lord Jesus said:
Matthew 5:8. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
VERSE 2. But as for me, my feet were almost gone. My steps had nearly slipped.
my feet were almost gone. That is, the author had almost lost his footing.
VERSE 3. For I was envious of the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
I was envious of the arrogant. In these days, the rich and arrogant are given honorific titles such as “job creators” and are held up as role models for us all to emulate.
VERSE 4. For there are no struggles in their death, but their strength is firm.
VERSE 5. They are free from burdens of men, neither are they plagued like other men.
VERSE 6. Therefore pride is like a chain around their neck. Violence covers them like a garment.
Violence covers them like a garment. That is, they “clothe themselves with cruelty” (NLT translation).
VERSE 7. Their eyes bulge with fat. Their minds pass the limits of conceit.
Their eyes bulge with fat. Mammals have a pocket of fat behind their eyes:
- During times of abundance, this fat grows larger and the eyes appear to bulge.
- During times of scarcity, this fat diminishes and the eyes appear to sag into their sockets.
VERSE 8. They scoff and speak with malice. In arrogance, they threaten oppression.
VERSE 9. They have set their mouth in the heavens. Their tongue walks through the earth.
VERSE 10. Therefore their people return to them, and they drink up waters of abundance.
they drink up waters of abundance. People drink up the words of the rich and arrogant.
VERSE 11. They say, “How does God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Is there knowledge in the Most High. People wonder if God even knows what is happening.
VERSE 12. Behold, these are the wicked. Being always at ease, they increase in riches.
VERSE 13. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence,
I have cleansed my heart in vain. Have you kept your heart pure? Does it ever feel like a wasted effort? It is not.
VERSE 14. For all day long I have been plagued, and punished every morning.
VERSE 15. If I had said, “I will speak thus”; behold, I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
VERSE 16. When I tried to understand this, it was too painful for me;
I tried to understand this. The author tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
it was too painful. That is, trying to understand why the wicked prosper was too difficult.
VERSE 17. Until I entered God’s sanctuary, and considered their latter end.
considered their latter end. It was in God’s sanctuary that the insight arrived. There, the author finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
VERSE 18. Surely you set them in slippery places. You throw them down to destruction.
in slippery places. The wicked are on a slippery slope.
throw them down to destruction. The wicked will slide over the cliff to their own destruction.
VERSE 19. How they are suddenly destroyed! They are completely swept away with terrors.
VERSE 20. As a dream when one wakes up, so, Lord, when you awake, you will despise their fantasies.
when you awake. The author imagines that the LORD has been sleeping. This notion that God must be awoken has a parallel in the Japanese religion of Shinto. People go to a temple and ring a bell. They ring the bell in order to wake up the 神 (“Kami”), or local spirit.
you will despise their fantasies. The LORD will laugh at the silly notions of the rich and arrogant.
VERSE 21. For my soul was grieved. I was embittered in my heart.
VERSE 22. I was so senseless and ignorant. I was a brute beast before you.
right hand. The Bible often mentions “the right hand” of God. That is a position of power and honor. We believe it refers to Jesus Christ. More verses about the right hand.
VERSE 24. You will guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
This verse is cited by Thomas Raymond Kelly in his famous book “A Testament of Devotion.” Read more »
no one … I desire besides you. This is our ideal. We want God and God alone. Nothing else will suffice; he alone fulfills.
VERSE 26. My flesh and my heart fails, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
VERSE 27. For, behold, those who are far from you shall perish. You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to you.
it is good .. to come close to God. Our greatest happiness comes from being near God.
I have made the Lord the LORD my refuge. Have YOU made the Sovereign Lord YOUR refuge?
tell of all your works. Do you tell people about the LORD God?
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.