Have you ever wished you were rich and famous like some of the celebrities in Hollywood? Today's verse is for you:
“For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches.” (Psa. 73:3, 12)
Psalm 73 was composed by Asaph, one of David’s chief musicians. He had a real problem trying to figure out why ungodly people were prospering while he, a faithful servant of the Lord, was “plagued” by financial stress every day. He readily admits that he was envious of those wicked men who boasted in their riches. He even began to wonder whether serving the Lord was worth it. Basically, Asaph had come to think life was unfair.
In this Psalm we have a good description of the lives of the rich and famous. Note the following observations made by Asaph of their lifestyle:
•“There are no pangs in their death”—because they leave massive wealth to their heirs. (vs.4)
•“They are not in trouble as other men”—because they never have any financial worries. (vs.5)
•“Violence covers them like a garment”—because they buy their way out of criminal charges. (vs.6)
•“They have more than their heart could wish”—because they purchase luxurious things. (vs.7) On top of all this, they scoff and mock those who are believers in God, because they have the philosophy that they don’t need God. (vs.8-9)
We are compelled to agree with Asaph’s description of the rich and famous. We see it illustrated in the lives of Hollywood celebrities, corporate executives, and professional sports figures. And it is easy to become enamored by their success and envious of their obscene wealth. We may even say with Asaph, “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence.” (vs.13)
He just couldn’t deal with the injustice of it all, stating: “When I thought to understand this, it was too painful for me.” (vs.16) But before you conclude that life is unfair—that the rich are getting richer and you are suffering needlessly—think for a moment about their end. Verse 17 is the turning point in this chapter. “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.” All the money in the world cannot mitigate their eternal suffering in hell. Jesus teaches us this truth in the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. The rich man “fared sumptuously” every day, while poor Lazarus was a beggar who ate scraps from his table. But oh how the roles were reversed after they died! Lazarus was comforted in paradise while the rich man begged for a drop of water to cool his tongue.
So be careful you don't fall into the trap, like Asaph, of envying the rich and famous. And be careful you don’t measure “success” or “riches” in terms of one’s earthly life and the mere accumulation of material things. Measure it the way God does--in terms of eternity.