A Perplexing Problem, and Satisfactory Solution
Psalm 73:1-28
Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.…

I. A PERPLEXING PROBLEM. We live under the government of God, and His government extends to all persons, and all interests in every life. This is a fundamental fact. From what we know of the character of God as good and just, and seeing that He has power to carry out all His decisions, we might expect that in every instance virtue would be rewarded and vies would be punished. But, in observing the circumstances of men, this expectation is falsified. For a time, at least, some of the wicked prosper, and some of the righteous do not prosper, until bad men say, and good men are tempted to say in their depression and doubt, surely the sympathy of the Divine Ruler must be on the side of vies, the reins of government must have fallen out of His hands, and what ought to be an orderly creation is simply a chaos. Why is the life of many a good man embittered by the wickedness of his son, whilst the ungodly father in some instances is surrounded by the best children? Why is the breadwinner taken away when the family seem to need most the strength of his arm, the intelligence of his mind, and the influence of his example? Why is it that some of the beautiful and noble, full of intellectual and Christian promise, are out off in youth, whilst not a few of the stained and mean are allowed to drag their ignominy through a long, stained and dishonoured life? Why is it that sunshine and sorrow seem in so many eases to follow no rule of effort or desert? Ah! those are some of the dark riddles, the strange perplexities, of which many a life is full. Here we are confronted with a business problem. Now, nothing is more clear than that in worldly affairs the battle is not always to the strong. Whatever we may say in our conceit, worldly success does not always reflect commercial genius. It is surprising indeed with how little brains some business men succeed. They ought to succeed in business, for they exhaust themselves in the one supreme and strenuous effort of money-making, and have no time or taste for anything else. Some of the most shallow and superficial men I have met are men of this mould. Beecher said of such: "They resemble a pyramid, which is broad where it touches the ground, but grows narrower as it reaches the sky." In saying this I do not wish it to be understood that the righteous man is less fit and likely to succeed in temporal affairs than the unrighteous. No, religion helps a man to get on in the world. Other things being equal in the man, that man who is honest, industrious and persevering is more likely to succeed than his neighbour, who may have the same natural ability, but no Christian principle. Undoubtedly religion quickens and expands the whole man, and fertilizes the wide area of life. A man who is formed, reformed, and informed by religion will do far more effectual work than the same man without religion. Another fact must also be borne in mind. Some good men, whom we like to hear sing and pray in the "sanctuary," are not strong and smart at the "receipt of customs." Business is not their forte. They are estimable men in their home and Church relations, but they lack the keenness, suspicion, alertness, push, and enterprise so greatly necessary in these days of keen competition and quick movement. One can easily see why some easy, confiding, unsuspicious men who do not adapt themselves to certain changed conditions in business do not succeed. The wonder would be if they did. But baying said this, we all know worthy men who comply with the conditions Of worldly success, and are even then disadvantaged, kept down and back by the greedy, avaricious worldlings, with whom they do not and cannot compete in certain questionable and wicked practices. Some are too delicately fibred, too considerate of justice, generosity, handsome behaviour, too Scripturally conscientious to chord in practice with those who do not scruple at lying advertisements, fictitious capital, adulterated articles. And so they secretly and silently suffer in mind and state. They are beaten and baffled, not simply by the greedy and gigantic monopolies, which appear to be the order of the day, but by the positive wrong-doing of the unscrupulous, who will have gain by means fair or foul. And so it is in my pastoral round, I have seen the good man — a struggling tradesman "fretting" because of evil-doers, "envious" against the "workers of iniquity."

1. It tries his trust. It is easy to trust God when the "cup runneth over." But it is very hard for a man with an ill-stocked larder, and an ill-furnished wardrobe, to lean his whole weight upon God.

2. It proves his zeal. "Money is a defence." The rich man is protected by earthworks against much that beats pitilessly and cruelly upon the poor man.

3. It tests his humility. To retrench the pleasant superfluities of life, to abridge his sphere of usefulness, to curtail his gifts, to live in a smaller house, to miss his name from the subscription list, to rank among the unfortunates and be quiet — all this goes against the grain of a spirited, mettled man, who, although poor, is still a man of desire and ambition.

4. It taxes patience. Baffled and utterly bewildered, there are sad moments when the tempted Christian says he cannot understand the Divine dealings with him.

II. A SATISFACTORY SOLUTION. For a moment Asaph's conscience wavered, for a time giddiness seized him. How is it he did not fall into the abyss? Asaph believed in God. He could not after all believe in chance. That was the saving thought. Like a ship swinging at anchor, he swayed about by the ebb and the flow of the tide, but he did not drift from his moorings. What was it that wrought the vast change in the psalmist? It was going into the house of God. This is the Divinely-appointed place where God graciously answers those who are perplexed and pained, and who kneel, saying, "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." The judicial faculty to weigh things, to take a calm survey of the entire situation, needs stillness and retreat. It is here, in the sanctuary, we see the relationship of this brief and broken life on earth to the wide, boundless kingdom of the eternal. Wait calmly until the clouds roll by. Said Dr. Dixon, "It is in the nature of a cloud to pass away." Possess your soul in patience, and, amid the sweet silences and kindling visions of the sanctuary, you shall change your murmur to a psalm. Revelation reconciles, if it does not explain, by telling us that there is a magnificent future, veiled, but certain, for which present inequalities and seeming injustices are the necessary, the suitable, the merciful preparation. You are now moving in the twilight, but it is the morning twilight, to be followed by the glory of eternity, when all these tangled things shall be smoothed out, and the vexed things of earth made plain in the light of heaven.

(G. Woodcock.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {A Psalm of Asaph.} Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

WEB: Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

David as Psalmist
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