Faith on Trial: When The Wicked Prosper
“Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Psalm 73:1-3
… a synopsis of the writing of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Oftentimes, perplexities in life are magnified when we compare our lives with the lives of others. In Psalm 73, the psalmist confesses that he was shaken and troubled, to the point of almost stumbling, because he was bewildered at God’s way of dealing with him: he was living a righteous life, yet everything seemed to be going wrong.
To make matters worse, when he looked at the lives of the wicked, he saw a striking contrast: they prosper in the world, are in good health, and not in trouble as other men. He described the ungodly as arrogant, deceitful, and full of blasphemy, yet having more than their hearts could wish for. The psalmist felt that he was living a godly life in vain.
Progressing through the verses, however, we learn that the writer managed to steady himself and eventually arrive at a firm position of faith through a series of small steps.
“If I had said, “I will speak thus, behold I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.” (v 15)
The first step he took was to control himself: he kept himself from saying what was at the tip of his tongue, recognizing the importance of never speaking hurriedly, never on impulse. The guiding principle we can glean from this is that our speech needs to be positive, and not hasty in expressing doubts and uncertainties. If we can say nothing that is helpful, we should say nothing at all.
Secondly, he deliberated upon what he was about to say: he looked at the problem again and examined it from different angles. The guiding principle here is not to be too quick in forming opinions based on one set of facts, but to look at the subject from other perspectives, and to consider its consequences and implications.
Thirdly, the psalmist held on to what he was certain of, and he held on at all costs. Having considered the matter again, he realized that if he were to say the words he was tempted to vocalize, he would have become a stumbling block to God’s people. Here we see the importance of having certain absolutes in life, that there are certain things deemed unthinkable, never to be considered. One of the absolutes in his life was to never inflict harm upon God’s cause and His people.
These were the steps the psalmist took that enabled him to gain a foothold to plant his feet securely, and to keep himself from slipping and falling.
Reference: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Faith on Trial, W. B. Erdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1965, pp. 11-31
*** Photography by Kevin Walker
what an amazing picture and a great visual that underlines your words of encouragement to us … to take steps to keep our feet from slipping
Thank you, Heidi. It is a blessing to share some insights into this precious psalm through Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ teaching. Blessings, Dee
I love this, Dee. I am reminded of two things I know for sure – I am not God – and we should do right for right’s sake (love as we’ve been commanded).
Maybe a year ago, our minister spoke of how there were religious groups who spoke of fire and brimstone such they frightened people. He went on to say, ‘we want people to do good because they want to get to heaven, not because they fear hell.’ It bothered me such that I spoke with him later. I expect from myself that I try to do right (and be loving) without the promise or threat of anything. The psalmist knows that the reward is not in love, but in loving. Our trials are many, but our comfort is light. Always we are loved. ~ As are you, my precious Dee. ~ Always, Bobbie
Thank you for this wonderful insight, Bobbie. That is so true, in our pursuit of loving, and of being loved, there must be no carrot or stick to lure or frighten. Love, Dee
Great post there, Dee! I’ve been blessed!
I am so glad you’ve been blessed by the thoughts on this psalm, Joseyphina! Thank you so much for your comment. Blessings, Dee
You have given us another well-written and insightful post, Dee. Thank you for sharing.
I can’t add to it but share a snippet – judge not, expect not, live true and leave the rest to Him.
Peace and blessings,
Splendid words to live by — to “judge not, expect not, live true and leave the rest to Him”. Thank you for sharing this snippet of wisdom, Eric, and for your heartwarming comments. Peace and blessings. Dee
Your words are very true and I cannot argue. I will confess, however, I’m too restless. I suppose being female a certain resentment builds when told to reflect like the psalmist above. I feel that way, I suppose because when I feel a slight, or feel my sisters in Christ are thwarted by a “pecking order,” I will not stand still nor will I remain silent. I know you do not mean an injustice – but that is the insidiousness of being a female and being Christian. So often women are praised for enduring – and I cannot go there. Yes, the greatest among us are servants – but the female is expected to take that role too often. So when the “wicked,” prosper – I do not worry, when those words above are twisted into a sort of slavery of religion, I’m afraid I shout.
Hi Sandra, thank you for the honesty of your words. This post presents some thoughts by Dr. Lloyd-Jones on Psalm 73, and I must admit I was essentially targeting the post for myself to ponder upon, because I, too, become restless and so quick to speak out when it comes to things that I perceive do not seem right and just. Being a female and a Christian brings some quandaries because of the “submissiveness expected of women” doctrines that have been propagated through the centuries, which may result in some sort of “slavery of religion”. And you are right, when words in the Bible are twisted to serve some political or social agenda, then that in itself is religion that enslaves, and it is indeed fitting and proper to stand and speak out the truth in love. Love, Dee
During my most difficult times of pain and suffering after surviving a semi-truck accident while riding as a passenger in a car listening to Max Mclean read Pslams was the most peaceful for me. GOD has given us exactly what we need to survive and thrive in our most darkest times of trial. GOD bless you for writing this blog to help others. Melody
Dear Melody, Thank you for sharing what you went through after surviving a semi-truck accident. Praise God for bringing you through all that difficult trial and for being with you every step of the way. It is a blessing to hear your words of experience that God gives us exactly what we need to survive and thrive in our most darkest times of trial. God bless you, too, for being an inspiration to others through your blog. Love, Dee
Thank you for sharing this teaching. Dr. Lloyd-Jones did a wonderful job handling this very controversial subject. Lord bless you and the ministry here.
Thank you, Pastor Rob. It is a blessing to be able to share the teaching of Dr. Lloyd-Jones. God bless you, too. Dee