The world’s reality is often so different from the faith’s reality. When Asaph looked around, he struggled with reconciling those realities. Psalm 73 traces his struggle. He even admitted that he nearly caved into a worldview devoid of God. He looked around to see how the wicked prospered. He saw they were rich and blessed with the benefits of the world. Even though they spoke against the God of heaven, they prospered. Asaph wondered if he had kept his heart in vain. What was the benefit of keeping a pure heart if this was the reality? Trying to reconcile it all simply wearied him. The struggle resolved when he went into the sanctuary, into the presence of God.
Asaph confessed that he had grown bitter against the Lord but in the sanctuary, he realized the precarious position of the wicked. He realized that in only a moment, God would bring his wrath upon them. He also confessed how close he was to joining that wicked assemblage. He admitted that the growing hardness of his heart had made him like a brutish, arrogant beast before the Lord.
Asaph came full circle. He remembered God’s presence with him. He realized again that God’s guidance was on him. I am sure he wondered inside, “What was I thinking?” Compared to God, there was no other choice. There was no one and nothing that was more desirable than the Lord. He was once again assured that at his death, the Lord will take him to glory. Now, in God’s presence, he sees the truth. The wicked will perish. Asaph affirmed this faith, “But as 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.” (Psalm 73:28 ESV)
Asaph saw that God was his refuge against discouragement and resentment. When the attacks come, God was his safe place. Notice the strategy of these attacks. He saw the apparently prosperous ways of the wicked. Their present prosperity hid their hopeless future from his sight. Their taunts of the one true God seemed to have a basis. Asaph’s thoughts were assailed. Regret and doubt grew in him. But the clear insight into eternity blew away his foggy thinking and he saw the truth.
Asaph’s experience was very much like our experiences too. The glitter attracts us even though we know that glitter isn’t always from gold. God is our refuge, too. When we reflect on Him, in the midst of his people (his people are his sanctuary), when we abide in the Word, when we seek to close the gap in our relationship with the Lord, we see the eternal perspective too. We live without fear or envy of the wicked. We can affirm with Asaph, “It is good to be near God.”