The Cure for Self Pity

Posted on January 4, 2012


Psalms 73

If you are living right, if you are living like you ought to. It seems like life should be easy. We ought to be able to compare our lives to those of lost sinners and say. Yes, this is why you should follow the Lord. At times, this is just simply not the case though. God is not a welfare program. Sometimes Christians have horrible lives. Sometimes lost people go their entire lives and never have a truly horrible day to speak of. At least this is how it seems. It lends itself to the question, what exactly is the point here? We will answer this, but first let me ask a question. What is your focus here?

II Corinthians 4:18 – While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Christ is not a free ride into the afterlife. You take your eyes off of the eternal, and you will probably be a fairly discontented Christian. Are you a discontented Christian? Let us be careful to not mistake desires we have for goals that have been given to us.

II Timothy 4:7 – I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

This is truly what it is about. What are you about? Don’t spend all of you time looking around at what others have or what they seem to have, or their level of enjoyment they may seem to be deriving out of life. You may end up with you feet in slippery places.

A Universal Understanding  – Verses 1-3

Psalms 73:1 – Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

And all God’s people said, amen. Who was Israel? What is the personal application of who this was written about? This is a very general statement. General statements are perhaps very true, but they have very limited personal application. More important that the fact that God is good to everyone, is the fact that God is good to ME!

Psalms 73:2 – But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.

This almost seem like an ‘in spite of’ statement. Such as this, while verse one is true in general….this is where I am at personally. Thus, my statement about general statements doing very little personal good. There is an important point to make here however. There are a couple of important words, ‘Almost’ and ‘Well nigh.’ It is one thing to be close, it is another entire thing to be completely gone. You will probably not live your entire life and not, at times, feel like you are standing on the edge. While a very horrible place to be in, it is better than being over the edge.

Psalms 73:3 – For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

It is all about focus You will notice, he is no longer looking at the goodness of God He is looking at the success of the wicked That is a good way to be envious of things you have no business desiring. There was a direct correlation between looking at the wicked and the foolish and his feet almost slipping Spend a lot of time looking where you ought not to be, and you will find your feet where they ought not be Be careful about general statements without a heavy dose of personal application to go with

A Worldly Wisdom – Verses 4-8                                                                                                                         

Psalms 73:4 – For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.

Death does not cause fear. Death is not a concern. Death does not cause second thoughts. Death does not give cause for pause. They die, and that is it, there is nothing that gives cause for concern on their part. The strength of the wicked is unabated. Their ability is unchecked There is nothing standing in their way. They live the life of a reckless fool, and they have nothing that causes guilt or worry on their part.

The question must be asked Is this observation technically true? I would contend no, it is not an accurate representation of the reality. What it is, is an accurate representation of the façade that men attempt to put on. Anyone can put on a fake face. It is called hypocrisy. Christians are often accused of it, the lost world is often guilty of it.  This is the game the foolish and wicked must play. The reason they must play it is because of the reality of their situation That is their slippery place. Not a slippery place like the writer was concerned that he was in.

Psalms 73:5 – They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.

Remember, we are discussing the lost and men of wicked tendencies. The psalmist opinion was that the wicked have no problems. David circle of association was with the Lord’s people So he was, I am sure, acutely aware of the issues that can consume the lives of those that love the Lord. And he looked at the wicked and proclaimed, they don’t have to deal with any of this. If we are not very careful, we can have the same attitude. It is a case of, ‘I try hard to do right, and have problems, these people, don’t care, and their life is a bed of roses’ Bad things never happen to bad people is the mantra. It is easy to think and to say, regardless of whether or not we know it is true.

Psalms 73:6 – Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.

As a result of this, some things are true. It emboldens the wicked. It makes them all the more confident in their wickedness. When nothing bad ever happens it tends to solidify the course that you have taken. I mean think about it, if what I am doing is bad…..bad things would happen. Doesn’t that really only makes sense? Not only are they emboldened and arrogant in their chosen paths, its make them aggressive to continue their dominance. There is nothing to stop them, or so it seems, and so they do not stop. Their violent acts are as obvious as the clothes they are wearing on their backs.

Psalms 73:7 – Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.

They do well. They have a lot.  They are satisfied. They are happy. They are successful. They have everything they need. They get everything they want. They want everything they see. Ever have someone give you an arrogant look? And to top it all off, they are arrogant and condescending in the mean time.

Psalms 73:8 – They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 

They are bold and arrogant and loud about their position. They are not  ashamed. They are not embarrassed. On the contrary, they are loud and proud and set in their ways. They count their position as a thing to be bragged about…and who wouldn’t? Success is often bragged about, even ill-gotten success.

An Optimistic Opinion – Verses 9-12                                                                                                                           

Psalms 73:9 – They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.These are people who make no attempt to hide their wickedness 

Even to the point of speaking against God in the process. This is the extent that their arrogance has taken them. Their basic claim is that there is no God, I mean after all, if their truly was, they could not be getting away with all that they are getting away with. Their mouth and their speech spares not, small and great, rich and poor, all are the recipients and victims of their asinine attitude.

Psalms 73:10 – Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.

It can make the people of God go back to their “previous place.” After all, with the unbridled success of the wicked, what is the point in living righteous. For all the stress and the headaches caused by living right, and in the process observing the success of the wicked…it causes distress and sorrow and tears. And the righteous throw their hands up, forsake the right, and return to their previous estate.

Psalms 73:11 – And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?

On the face of it, this question makes sense. Why? If there is a God? Can I get away with all of this? It does seem to beg the bigger question, are you truly getting away with anything? The question is easily asked by those who are foolish and wicked. They mistake the longsuffering of God, with the absence of a God. If we are not careful we can make the same mistake. In this instance we find them at least acknowledging the presence but questioning the wisdom of God. If he does know, he does not care.

Psalms 73:12 – Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.

They have it all. No problems. Everything goes their way. The end does not scare them. God is not stopping them. They have unbridled success. They have the best of all worlds. And it just continues to get better and better for them. Notice the slight qualifier, ‘in the world’ What about in their souls? What about AFTER this world? Outward smiles can cover a frowning and distressed soul quite easily.

A Discouraging Dilemma – Verses 13-16                                                                                                                   

Psalms 73:13 – Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.

Verily – surely. Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever felt the sensation, ‘no matter how hard I try to do right, it just doesn’t really seem to matter?’ It is an unpleasant feeling to have done right, and no ‘good’ come from it, while others do wrong around you, and prosper greatly. Notice the emphasis on what ‘I’ have done. I would question what exactly the purpose is for doing these things? Is it for an easy life?  Is it for a life filled with temporal success? Or is it, because we are passionate about obeying God? We need to be doing things for the correct reason.

Psalms 73:14 – For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.

Continuing with his thought… I do right, I have problems… I live pure, I have problems… I love God, I have problems… I am committed to the Lord….and it is all for naught.

Psalms 73:15,16 – If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;

Life is not all rainbows, butterflies and puppy dogs I know that, I am aware of that. Some things that we can think about are just flat painful So, it is time for an intellectual exercise. Find the positive. Look up and read the story of Pollyanna. Not ignoring the bad, but looking for the good. Anyone can see the positive in eating rice and beans for a couple of meals because money is a little tight, can you see the positive if the Lord decides to take your family in a catastrophic event? Attempting to see things from God’s perspective is very much the key. If you just cannot see the circumstance from God’s perspective. Think about something else. You will worry yourself into an unnecessary, early grave worrying about things that are distressing. It’s not escapism, it is obeying the biblical principle of controlling what you think about.  What exactly was he trying to know? How to reconcile the prosperity of the wicked, with the problems of the righteous, to the righteousness of God, and his wise oversight of the world, without consulting the word of God, and what God had to say about everyone and their place. This, is indeed a tough thing to know.

An Efficacious Event – Verse 17                                                                                                                                

Psalms 73:17 – Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

Whose end? Well, the end of the wicked. What end do they have to look forward to? Have you read the back of the book? Don’t get so caught up with what you see, that you forget what you know. He had a readjustment of his mentality when he spent some time with God. Is it possible, if you have a negative attitude, that you are not spending enough time with the Lord? Something about spending time in God’s presence can tend to make us reevaluate they way we perceive everything around us. What happens in the house of God? Bible is read, prayer is offered, we are focused upon God, we have fellowship with the saved. Don’t be so downcast that you forsake the assembling at the house of God. What all did he understand? He understood not only the end of the wicked, but also the end of the righteous. Keep all things in context. This is verse is the key to understanding the entire chapter.

A Precarious Position – Verse 18-20                                                                                                                             

Psalms 73:18 – Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.

What we see here, is who truly has their feet in slippery places. If you remember that the wicked have their feet here, you will be less likely to have your feet here. It is a purposeful place that the Lord has put the wicked. This is not always a destruction that waits till eternity. Do you remember the story of  Nebuchadnezzar?

Psalms 73:19 – How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.

They may seem as though they have no bands in their death. They may seem as though they are wildly successful. They may seem as though everything is fine. But, it is not fine. And to whatever extent it may appear fine, it will all be over in an instant. Remember the story of the  Rich man and Lazarus?

Luke 16:22,23 – And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

The rich man died, what is the next phrase? AND IN HELL….as in a moment.

Sodom and Gomorrah

Pharaoh and his army

Korah and his company

All of these people had their end come suddenly with, little to no advance warning.

Psalms 73:20 – As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.

How many men faired sumptuously in this life, and awoke, as if a dream, in hell, when they died? Then, the Lord assuredly despises their image.

A Self-effacing Statement – Verse 21-23                                                                                                                      

Psalms 73:21 – Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.

Why was his heart grieved?  Because he understood the ignorant mentality he had held in the first part of this chapter. He understood the lack of focus that he was entertaining. He understood that he was not looking at God, but rather on his temporal circumstance. And he felt bad. He felt guilt. He felt conviction. All of which are emotions we will fill standing before the Lord.

Psalms 73:22 – So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.

How did he view himself? As a dumb animal. As a fool. Because he should have known better. The self-pity he was wallowing in like swine, was inexcusable on his part.

Psalms 73:23 – Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.

He put into perspective everything. And in doing so, he remembered who exactly was holding him. It was not possessions or money. Or the wicked. It was the Lord.

A Persevering Position – Verse 24-28                                                                                                                         

Psalms 73:24  – Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

He had read, he truly understood the end. This is what we must remember. No matter what happens, we go to heaven when we die.

Psalms 73:25 – Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

This recognition on our part will change our desire. Everything that everyone else has, it will not longer matter. Why? Because we have Christ. And there is simply no substitute for that. There is not cheap imitation that will suffice.

Psalms 73:26 – My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

No matter what is going on around us. We are staying focused, we are staying mindful of the needful parts of our lives.

Psalms 73:27 – For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.

We understand, we are not the ones responsible for other people. We are not the ones keeping count. God is the one keeping track, and he doesn’t need our help.

Psalms 73:28 – But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.

So, are you wallowing in self-pity? If so, you need to remember what is good, FOR YOU. And that is, to draw near to God. To trust God. To know who God is, and what he has done. If you read this chapter, what made the difference in his attitude? Did the wicked and foolish man change? Did the wicked and foolish man position in life change? Did God change? Did God’s response to the wicked change? Did God’s response to the righteous change? Or did the Psalmist change? You see…here is the important thing. You can’t change the wicked. God doesn’t need to change. So if there is a problem….CHANGE YOU!!