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