Songs of Summer: Psalm 73 - A Song About Rule Breakers Prospering

There are moments where we survey the world around us and see that things are the opposite of what we believe they should be.  The wicked are prospering while the faithful are struggling. How do we make sense of this? And how do we not fall into the trap of being overcome by bitterness in the face of this madness?

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Scripture Reading - Psalm 73

1 Truly God is good to Israel,
    to those whose hearts are pure.
2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
    My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
3 For I envied the proud
    when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
4 They seem to live such painless lives;
    their bodies are so healthy and strong.
5 They don’t have troubles like other people;
    they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.
6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace
    and clothe themselves with cruelty.
7 These fat cats have everything
    their hearts could ever wish for!
8 They scoff and speak only evil;
    in their pride they seek to crush others.
9 They boast against the very heavens,
    and their words strut throughout the earth.
10 And so the people are dismayed and confused,
    drinking in all their words.
11 “What does God know?” they ask.
    “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”
12 Look at these wicked people—
    enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
    Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;
    every morning brings me pain.
15 If I had really spoken this way to others,
    I would have been a traitor to your people.
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
    But what a difficult task it is!
17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
    and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
    and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors.
20 When you arise, O Lord,
    you will laugh at their silly ideas
    as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
    and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.
27 Those who desert him will perish,
    for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
    and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

SERMON NOTES

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Haley Courtney, a member of our worship team shares her favorite psalm(s)

Here are some additional resources we recommend as we reflect on the Psalms this summer:

The Gospel In A Pluralist Society by Leslie Newbigin. How does the gospel relate to a pluralist society? What is the Christian message in a society marked by religious pluralism, ethnic diversity, and cultural relativism? Should Christians encountering today's pluralist society concentrate on evangelism or on dialogue? How does the prevailing climate of opinion affect, perhaps infect, Christians' faith?

This thoughtful book is written by a thoughtful and compassionate Anglican pastor who served 30 years as a missionary in India. A provocative book written way ahead of its time.

The Next Christendom and The New Faces of Christianity, both by Philip Jenkins, look at the impact of the new reality: the center of the Christian faith is no longer north of the equator and represented in the "West". It has moved to the global south (of the equator). What will be the impact worldwide when Africa may emerge as the largest Christian continent? Already churches south of the equator are now the largest "sending" churches in the world.

Reflections on the Psalms by C. S. Lewis. This little gem "makes clear their significance in our daily lives, and reminds us of their power to illuminate moments of grace as they teach us about God, Scripture, and the significance of faith." Also available as an audible book. 

A Long Obedience In the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson. This book looks at the Psalms 120-134 -- known as the Psalms of Ascents. This grouping of songs were song as people made their way to Jerusalem for the great festivals. Peterson's exposition is moving, theological, and substantial.  Also available as an audible book.

Perseverance: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction is a bible-study based on Psalms 120-134 and Peterson's book. You could use this alone or with others for a summer "Songs of Summer" study/daily devotions.

31 Days to Get the Message: Psalms and Proverbs by Eugene Peterson. The books of Psalms and Proverbs are presented in a thirty-one day audible devotional format. The readings are taken from Peterson's dynamic translation of the Psalms and Proverbs. This might help jumpstart or refresh your devotional habits.

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