Why do the Righteous Suffer and the Wicked Prosper? (Psalm 73)
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
We hardly ever do a Sunday evening post, but in response to a couple of very good questions by readers of the post on Psalm 11 that we did this morning, I wanted to perhaps help by pointing everyone to Psalm 73. Psalm 11 says that the Lord loves the righteous and rains fire down on the wicked. But it doesn’t often look that way in this life, does it? Some of you are suffering right now, and YOU are the Christian, while your unrepentant abuser is partying on. Well, rest assured that you are not the first to ask this question of the Lord, and it is quite right to ask it of Him. The Psalms are filled with honest heart cries of the righteous — “Lord, why? When are you going to act here? Do you see the plight I am in?”
Here is the Psalmist’s own record of this very kind of struggle in his own life. Notice that he almost caved in and turned away from the Lord — until…— and there is the key word. Until. Until he considered their end. Listen to him and take heart. It only LOOKS like the wicked are prospering:
Psa 73:1-28 A Psalm of Asaph.
Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them.
And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.
All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.