Psalms 73

* The psalmist's temptation. (1-14) How he gained a victory over

it. (15-20) How he profited by it. (21-28)1-14 The psalmist was strongly tempted to envy the prosperity

of the wicked; a common temptation, which has tried the graces

of many saints. But he lays down the great principle by which he

resolved to abide. It is the goodness of God. This is a truth

which cannot be shaken. Good thoughts of God will fortify

against Satan's temptations. The faith even of strong believers

may be sorely shaken, and ready to fail. There are storms that

will try the firmest anchors. Foolish and wicked people have

sometimes a great share of outward prosperity. They seem to have

the least share of the troubles of this life; and they seem to

have the greatest share of its comforts. They live without the

fear of God, yet they prosper, and get on in the world. Wicked

men often spend their lives without much sickness, and end them

without great pain; while many godly persons scarcely know what

health is, and die with great sufferings. Often the wicked are

not frightened, either by the remembrance of their sins, or the

prospect of their misery, but they die without terror. We cannot

judge men's state beyond death, by what passes at their death.

He looked abroad, and saw many of God's people greatly at a

loss. Because the wicked are so very daring, therefore his

people return hither; they know not what to say to it, and the

rather, because they drink deep of the bitter cup of affliction.

He spoke feelingly when he spoke of his own troubles; there is

no disputing against sense, except by faith. From all this arose

a strong temptation to cast off religion. But let us learn that

the true course of sanctification consists in cleansing a man

from all pollution both of soul and body. The heart is cleansed

by the blood of Christ laid hold upon by faith; and by the begun

works of the Lord's Spirit, manifested in the hearty resolution,

purpose, and study of holiness, and a blameless course of life

and actions, the hands are cleansed. It is not in vain to serve

God 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 for

God's people, and with that he restrained himself from speaking

what he had thought amiss. It is a sign that we repent of the

evil thoughts of the heart, if we suppress them. Nothing gives

more offence to God's children, than to say it is vain to serve

God; for there is nothing more contrary to their universal

experience. He prayed to God to make this matter plain to him;

and he understood the wretched end of wicked people; even in the

height of their prosperity they were but ripening for ruin. The

sanctuary must be the resort of a tempted soul. The righteous

man's afflictions end in peace, therefore he is happy; the

wicked man's enjoyments end in destruction, therefore he is

miserable. The prosperity of the wicked is short and uncertain,

slippery places. See what their prosperity is; it is but a vain

show, it is only a corrupt imagination, not substance, but a

mere shadow; it is as a dream, which may please us a little

while we are slumbering, yet even then it disturbs our repose.
21-28 God would not suffer his people to be tempted, if his

grace were not sufficient, not only to save them from harm, but

to make them gainers by it. This temptation, the working of envy

and discontent, is very painful. In reflecting upon it, the

psalmist owns it was his folly and ignorance thus to vex

himself. If good men, at any time, through the surprise and

strength of temptation, think, or speak, or act amiss, they will

reflect upon it with sorrow and shame. We must ascribe our

safety in temptation, and our victory, not to our own wisdom,

but to the gracious presence of God with us, and Christ's

intercession for us. All who commit themselves to God, shall be

guided with the counsel both of his word and of his Spirit, the

best counsellors here, and shall be received to his glory in

another world; the believing hopes and prospects of which will

reconcile us to all dark providences. And the psalmist was

hereby quickened to cleave the closer to God. Heaven itself

could not make us happy without the presence and love of our

God. The world and all its glory vanishes. The body will fail by

sickness, age, and death; when the flesh fails, the conduct,

courage, and comfort fail. But Christ Jesus, our Lord, offers to

be all in all to every poor sinner, who renounces all other

portions and confidences. By sin we are all far from God. And a

profession Christ, if we go on in sin, will increase our

condemnation. May we draw near, and keep near, to our God, by

faith and prayer, and find it good to do so. Those that with an

upright heart put their trust in God, shall never want matter

for thanksgiving to him. Blessed Lord, who hast so graciously

promised to become our portion in the next world, prevent us

from choosing any other in this
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