Psalms 73* The psalmist's temptation. (1-14) How he gained a victory overit. (15-20) How he profited by it. (21-28)1-14 The psalmist was strongly tempted to envy the prosperityof the wicked; a common temptation, which has tried the gracesof many saints. But he lays down the great principle by which heresolved to abide. It is the goodness of God. This is a truthwhich cannot be shaken. Good thoughts of God will fortifyagainst Satan's temptations. The faith even of strong believersmay be sorely shaken, and ready to fail. There are storms thatwill try the firmest anchors. Foolish and wicked people havesometimes a great share of outward prosperity. They seem to havethe least share of the troubles of this life; and they seem tohave the greatest share of its comforts. They live without thefear of God, yet they prosper, and get on in the world. Wickedmen often spend their lives without much sickness, and end themwithout great pain; while many godly persons scarcely know whathealth is, and die with great sufferings. Often the wicked arenot frightened, either by the remembrance of their sins, or theprospect of their misery, but they die without terror. We cannotjudge men's state beyond death, by what passes at their death.He looked abroad, and saw many of God's people greatly at aloss. Because the wicked are so very daring, therefore hispeople return hither; they know not what to say to it, and therather, because they drink deep of the bitter cup of affliction.He spoke feelingly when he spoke of his own troubles; there isno disputing against sense, except by faith. From all this arosea strong temptation to cast off religion. But let us learn thatthe true course of sanctification consists in cleansing a manfrom all pollution both of soul and body. The heart is cleansedby the blood of Christ laid hold upon by faith; and by the begunworks of the Lord's Spirit, manifested in the hearty resolution,purpose, and study of holiness, and a blameless course of lifeand actions, the hands are cleansed. It is not in vain to serveGod and keep his ordinances. 15-20 The psalmist having shown the progress of his temptation,shows how faith and grace prevailed. He kept up respect forGod's people, and with that he restrained himself from speakingwhat he had thought amiss. It is a sign that we repent of theevil thoughts of the heart, if we suppress them. Nothing givesmore offence to God's children, than to say it is vain to serveGod; for there is nothing more contrary to their universalexperience. He prayed to God to make this matter plain to him;and he understood the wretched end of wicked people; even in theheight of their prosperity they were but ripening for ruin. Thesanctuary must be the resort of a tempted soul. The righteousman's afflictions end in peace, therefore he is happy; thewicked man's enjoyments end in destruction, therefore he ismiserable. The prosperity of the wicked is short and uncertain,slippery places. See what their prosperity is; it is but a vainshow, it is only a corrupt imagination, not substance, but amere shadow; it is as a dream, which may please us a littlewhile we are slumbering, yet even then it disturbs our repose. 21-28 God would not suffer his people to be tempted, if hisgrace were not sufficient, not only to save them from harm, butto make them gainers by it. This temptation, the working of envyand discontent, is very painful. In reflecting upon it, thepsalmist owns it was his folly and ignorance thus to vexhimself. If good men, at any time, through the surprise andstrength of temptation, think, or speak, or act amiss, they willreflect upon it with sorrow and shame. We must ascribe oursafety in temptation, and our victory, not to our own wisdom,but to the gracious presence of God with us, and Christ'sintercession for us. All who commit themselves to God, shall beguided with the counsel both of his word and of his Spirit, thebest counsellors here, and shall be received to his glory inanother world; the believing hopes and prospects of which willreconcile us to all dark providences. And the psalmist washereby quickened to cleave the closer to God. Heaven itselfcould not make us happy without the presence and love of ourGod. The world and all its glory vanishes. The body will fail bysickness, age, and death; when the flesh fails, the conduct,courage, and comfort fail. But Christ Jesus, our Lord, offers tobe all in all to every poor sinner, who renounces all otherportions and confidences. By sin we are all far from God. And aprofession Christ, if we go on in sin, will increase ourcondemnation. May we draw near, and keep near, to our God, byfaith and prayer, and find it good to do so. Those that with anupright heart put their trust in God, shall never want matterfor thanksgiving to him. Blessed Lord, who hast so graciouslypromised to become our portion in the next world, prevent usfrom choosing any other in this
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