Psalm 73. Honest Confessions in the Presence of God.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 73. (MsgB)

No doubt about it! God is good— good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
But I nearly missed it, missed seeing His goodness.
I was looking the other way, looking up to the people at the top,
Envying the wicked who have it made, who have nothing to worry about,
Not a care in the whole wide world.

When I was beleaguered and bitter, totally consumed by envy,
I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox in Your very presence.
I’m still in Your presence, but You’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me, and then You bless me.

Psalm 73 has an interesting twist in it. One I’ve not seen before when it comes to talking about the presence of God.

As a contemplative pastor whose highest desire is to faithfully practice the presence of God in every aspect of my life, I must admit that my expectation in the past has been this…

Standing in the presence of God changes everything.

In other words, I’ve always believed that if I’m lonely and afraid, standing the presence of God can change those emotions inside me. If I’m sick or wounded, standing in the presence of God can bring me healing. If I’m full of sin and self, standing in the presence of God can set me free.

But Asaph, the composer of Psalm 73, presents an interesting dilemma here that I’ve not thought of before! Apparently, if I read his words carefully, there were times in Asaph’s life when he was found standing in the presence of God but his heart remained far from it. Note how he says that he experienced times when he was literally in the presence of the Lord; yet he felt as dumb as an ox and totally ignorant of God’s goodness. He states clearly that he felt that way because he was “beleaguered and bitter, and totally consumed by envy.” Asaph goes on to elaborate; confessing that he was basking in the goodness of God, but all the while he was focusing his eyes, not on God, but on people of influence around him.


How often, my friends, are you and I found in a similar place? We love God. We hunger for His presence. We bask in His goodness and enjoy His blessings. But yet, somehow, someway, we’re missing the moment because of that little thing called bitterness and envy inside our hearts?

Hmm. I wonder if that explains that emptiness I sometimes feel when I’ve just walked out of a wonderful worship service or a great prayer meeting but I still feel empty on the inside?

I’m wondering if I need to look a bit more seriously at that little voice inside me that whispers from time to time how God seems to like other people better than me? Or what about that little thought that says God reserves His best blessings for others while poor little ‘ole me gets left out in the cold.

Maybe I just need to do what Asaph said he did to remedy his envy problem?

I’m still in Your presence, but You’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me, and then You bless me.

Maybe the next time I find myself in God’s presence, I need to go one step further and let God take my hand and wisely and tenderly lead me where He wants to go rather than me refusing to be led and thinking I know better about life than God does?

Maybe I need to be just a bit more gut honest with myself and know that just because God’s presence is all around me that doesn’t automatically qualify me for heaven? Maybe a bit of confession just might be my ticket to more of God in my life? Confession of envy and bitterness, like Asaph did? Confession that I truly need a Savior to remove that ox yoke of envy off my shoulders; allowing His blessing of goodness to overpower my old self-consumed heart?

My prayer: Father, Asaph is right. Just because I’m found in Your presence, doesn’t mean that I’ve done something good to get me there. Give me the courage to confess my hidden sins even when I’m found directly in the center of your goodness. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: How have I misinterpreted the presence of God; assuming He was there because of my righteousness or goodness? How can I get back to the truth that it’s because of His goodness that God comes; and like Asaph, I allow Him to take my hand, wisely and tenderly leading me out of my old self and into the goodness only He can bless me with?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?

Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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