Psalm 73:5

That is the teaching of these verses, and of innumerable Scriptures besides (see Psalm 55:19; Jeremiah 48:11). Thus -


1. In his Word. See also Hebrews 12, and the biographies of God's people in all ages. The history of the Church as given in Scripture abundantly reveals God's merciful law of change.

2. By analogy. God suffers nothing to be without change. Even the rocks and hills, the solid globe, are all subject to change. The seasons alternate. Storm and tempest make pure the air which, as in the Swiss valleys, would otherwise become stagnant. The great sea is "troubled, that it can never be quiet." In plant life, "except a corn of wheat fall into," etc. The processes of change are varied and ever acting in the entire vegetable world. And so in animal life. Not to experience change would be death. And it is so with the mind. No change there is idiocy. It must be stirred by the incoming of fresh truth, and the readjustment of old. In social life -

"The old order changeth, giving place to new, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world." In ecclesiastical life. What was the Reformation but the tempest that rushed through the valleys of the Church life of that day, where the air had become so stagnant and corrupt that men could not live? And it is so in political and in moral life. Much peace is much peril. "Because men have no changes they fear not God." We cannot glide into the kingdom of God, nor, as the well known hymn mistakenly teaches that we may -

"Sit and sing ourselves away
To everlasting bliss."
Not so do we enter there, but "through much tribulation." So our Lord, and all experience, plainly declare.

II. BUT WHY IS ALL THIS? Because in our nature there are rooted evils, which can only be got rid of by the action of this law of change. Such as:

1. Self-will. See the stream come brawling noisily along, as it descends through the valley down from the hill. But, lying right in its way, lo! there is a huge rook. Down comes the stream full tilt towards it, as if it would say, "Just you get out of my way." But that is exactly what the rock does not do; and so the angry stream dashes against it. And oh, what rage and riot, what fret and fume, there at once arises! But if you wait a moment, and watch, you will see that the stream seems to be thinking what it had better do; for lo! it glides softly, smoothly, quietly round the rook, which still stands stubbornly and relentlessly just where it stood before. The stream seems to have learnt a lesson - it has become all at once so gentle and submissive. Now, that is one of the ten thousand natural parables with which the world is full. The stream of our self-will, determined to go its own way, rushes on its course; but the rock of God's law of change, sending adversity and trial, stands in its way, and will not move, and self-will is broken against it, as God intended it should be. Only so can this evil be cured.

2. Pride. Trouble and sorrow humble men, and bring down the haughty spirit.

3. Unbelief. The materialism and atheism of the day are shattered by this law. In the day of distress, the soul cannot keep from calling upon God.

4. Selfishness. Ease fosters this as it fosters so much more that is evil; but trial often teaches men to think of others as well as of themselves.

5. And so with indolence and the love of the world. To be "in trouble as other men are" has a salutary power to rouse men from the one and to loose them from the other. And what opportunity does this law of change give for bearing testimony to the sustaining power of God's grace! Trouble endured with patient God-given courage is a mighty argument for God, the force of which all feel.


1. Faint not; fret not; fear not.

2. Humble yourself beneath the mighty hand of God, so that you may secure the blessing your trouble is destined to bring. - S.C.

They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men.
In the first verse a fact is stated; in the second verse an inference is drawn; and our business will lie with the showing you that the inference is just, The stated fact is, that the wicked have less of trouble than other men — and this fact we shall assume without any endeavour to prove; the inference which the psalmist drew was, that on this account, on account of their comparative exemption from tribulation and the changes and chances of life, the wicked remain the wicked — "compassed with pride as a chain, and covered with violence as a garment." And here therefore is the principle, which we shall endeavour to exhibit and establish; — namely, that continuance in wickedness is a natural consequence of exemption from trouble. You have the same principle announced in other portions of Scripture; so that we shall not be building on a solitary passage, in laying before you an important topic (Jeremiah 48:11; Psalm 55:19). We are well aware, that so natural is the desire for prosperity, and the aversion from the trials and changes of life/ that we may expect to have prejudices and inclinations arrayed against us, as we attempt to make good the position derivable from our text; but nevertheless, the cases we shall have to describe are so common, and the reasons we shall have to advance so simple, that we may calculate on obtaining the assent of the understanding, if not on overcoming the repugnance of the heart.

I. And we shall perhaps best compass our design by endeavouring to show you, in the first place, THE TENDENCIES OF A STATE IN WHICH THERE ARE NO ADVERSE CHANGES. We may not hesitate be affirm of prosperity that it is far harder to bear than adversity. We may apply to it the remarkable words of Solomon in reference to praise: "As the fining-pot for silver, and the furnace for gold, so is a man to his praise." As though he had said, that praise as much tries a man, and detects what is in him, as the fire of the furnace the metals submitted to its alchemy. You will occasionally meet with cases in which there appear to have been few or none of the thwartings of what is called Fortune; whatsoever has been undertaken has succeeded, and the individuals have worn all the aspect of being the favourites of some overruling power, with whom it rested to dispense the good and the evil of life. And where there has not been from the first a course of unbroken prosperity, there will often set in a sudden tide of success, and the man is borne along year after year on the waters of this tide, with no storms to retard him, and no rocks to endanger. This is far enough from uncommon, especially in a commercial community. But with such men attachment to earthly things grows with their acquirement; and if not impossible it is a thing of extraordinary rareness and difficulty to have the affections fixed on things above whilst the hands are uninterruptedly busied with sweeping together perishable riches. The man who is never made uneasy upon earth, is naturally almost sure to take it as his home, and to settle himself down as though it were never to be left. Thus the reasons are plain and convincing, not to be easily overlooked nor controverted, which go to the proving of prosperity, that it has a tendency to keep men at a distance from God. Undoubtedly the grace of God, mighty at overcoming every obstacle to conversion and every impediment to piety, may enable a man, under circumstances the least favourable to religious improvement, to seek and to know "the things which belong to his peace"; but we now speak only of the natural and direct tendencies of prosperity, allowing that they may indeed be counteracted, though not perhaps without some more special assistances, than we are ordinarily warranted in expecting from above.

II. Now, in thus showing the dangerous tendencies of an unbroken prosperity, we have in a measure also shown you THE BENEFICIAL RESULTS OF CHANGE AND CALAMITY; but the advantageousness of "being in trouble as other men," of "being plagued like other men," is too important a truth to be dismissed as a mere inference from what we have already established. We wish, therefore, now, to give ourselves to the separate consideration of this second truth: the truth, that it is the direct tendency of adverse changes in our circumstances to make us more attentive to religious duties, and more earnest in seeking those things which God promises to His people. We remark, in the first place, that change admonishes us of the transitory nature of terrestrial good. Exactly in proportion as calamity is deferred, confidence is strengthened; and if evil be slow in coming, men easily persuade themselves that it will never come. If for many years there have been no eruption of the volcano, from whose outbreak the peasantry had fled with every demonstration of terror, cottages will again be built around the treacherous mountain, and the smiling gardens clustered on its side; but if the cottages were swept away year after year by fresh descents of the fiery flood, we may be sure that the peasants, however attached to the place, would be finally wrought up to the abandoning it altogether, and seeking a home in some more secure, if less lovely place. And it may be, that with some of you the chain still binds, and the garment is still worn, because "they are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other folk." Then may the Almighty God send them trouble! Come anything rather than indifference, and apathy, and carnal security; anything, rather than that settling down of the soul in earthly comforts and entanglements, in which there is no disturbance, till from it there is no escape.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Asaph, Psalmist
Afflicted, Burdens, Common, Fate, Free, Hardships, Human, Ills, Mankind, Misery, Mortals, Plagued, Stricken, Trouble, Unhappy
1. The prophet, prevailing in a temptation
2. Shows the occasion thereof, the prosperity of the wicked
13. The wound given thereby, diffidence
15. The victory over it, knowledge of God's purpose.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Psalm 73:2-11

     5896   irreverence

Psalm 73:2-14

     5360   justice, God

Psalm 73:3-5

     8744   faithlessness, as disobedience

Psalm 73:3-6

     8701   affluence

Psalm 73:3-8

     5956   strength, human
     8819   scoffing

Psalm 73:3-9

     5961   superiority

Psalm 73:3-11

     5350   injustice, hated by God

Psalm 73:3-12

     5793   arrogance

Psalm 73:3-14

     1075   God, justice of

Nearness to God the Key to Life's Puzzle
'It is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Thy works.'--PSALM lxxiii. 28. The old perplexity as to how it comes, if God is good and wise and strong, that bad men should prosper and good men should suffer, has been making the Psalmist's faith reel. He does not answer the question exactly as the New Testament would have done, but he does find a solution sufficient for himself in two thoughts, the transiency of that outward prosperity, and the
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Reasonable Rapture
'Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee. 26. My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.' --PSALM lxxiii. 25, 26. We have in this psalm the record of the Psalmist's struggle with the great standing difficulty of how to reconcile the unequal distribution of worldly prosperity with the wisdom and providence of God. That difficulty pressed more acutely upon men of the Old Dispensation than even upon us,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

"Let us Pray"
Nevertheless, prayer is the best used means of drawing near to God. You will excuse me, then, if in considering my text this morning, I confine myself entirely to the subject of prayer. It is in prayer mainly, that we draw near to God, and certainly it can be said emphatically of prayer, it is good for every man who knoweth how to practice that heavenly art, in it to draw near unto God. To assist your memories, that the sermon may abide with you in after days, I shall divide my discourse this morning
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 6: 1860

What is Meant by "Altogether Lovely"
Let us consider this excellent expression, and particularly reflect on what is contained in it, and you shall find this expression "altogether lovely." First, It excludes all unloveliness and disagreeableness from Jesus Christ. As a theologian long ago said, "There is nothing in him which is not loveable." The excellencies of Jesus Christ are perfectly exclusive of all their opposites; there is nothing of a contrary property or quality found in him to contaminate or devaluate his excellency. And
John Flavel—Christ Altogether Lovely

How to Make Use of Christ, as Truth, for Comfort, when Truth is Oppressed and Born Down.
There is another difficulty, wherein believing souls will stand in need of Christ, as the truth, to help them; and that is, when his work is overturned, his cause borne down, truth condemned, and enemies, in their opposition to his work, prospering in all their wicked attempts. This is a very trying dispensation, as we see it was to the holy penman of Psalm lxxiii. for it made him to stagger, so that his feet were almost gone, and his steps had well nigh slipt; yea he was almost repenting of his
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Of a Low Estimation of Self in the Sight of God
I will speak unto my Lord who am but dust and ashes. If I count myself more, behold Thou standest against me, and my iniquities bear true testimony, and I cannot gainsay it. But if I abase myself, and bring myself to nought, and shrink from all self-esteem, and grind myself to dust, which I am, Thy grace will be favourable unto me, and Thy light will be near unto my heart; and all self-esteem, how little soever it be, shall be swallowed up in the depths of my nothingness, and shall perish for ever.
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ

The Bride, the Lamb's Wife
"Whom have I in Heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee."--Ps. lxxiii. 25. Mechthild of Hellfde, 1277. tr., Emma Frances Bevan, 1899 Thus speaks the Bride whose feet have trod The chamber of eternal rest, The secret treasure-house of God, Where God is manifest: "Created things, arise and flee, Ye are but sorrow and care to me." This wide, wide world, so rich and fair, Thou sure canst find thy solace there? "Nay, 'neath the flowers the serpent glides, Amidst the bravery
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen and Others (Second Series)

My God
J. Tauler Ps. lxxiii. 25 As the bridegroom to his chosen, As the king unto his realm, As the keep unto the castle, As the pilot to the helm, So, Lord, art Thou to me. As the fountain in the garden, As the candle in the dark, As the treasure in the coffer, As the manna in the ark, So, Lord, art Thou to me. As the music at the banquet, As the stamp unto the seal, As the medicine to the fainting, As the wine-cup at the meal, So, Lord, art Thou to me. As the ruby in the setting, As the honey in the
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

The Two Awakings
'I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.' --PSALM xvii. 15. 'As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when Thou awakest, Thou shalt despise their image.'--PSALM lxxiii. 20. Both of these Psalms are occupied with that standing puzzle to Old Testament worthies--the good fortune of bad men, and the bad fortune of good ones. The former recounts the personal calamities of David, its author. The latter gives us the picture of the perplexity of Asaph its writer, when he 'saw the prosperity
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Joy of the Lord.
IT is written "the joy of the Lord is your strength." Every child of God knows in some measure what it is to rejoice in the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ must ever be the sole object of the believer's joy, and as eyes and heart look upon Him, we, too, like "the strangers scattered abroad" to whom Peter wrote shall "rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Pet. i:8). But it is upon our heart to meditate with our beloved readers on the joy of our adorable Lord, as his own personal joy. The
Arno Gaebelein—The Lord of Glory

Of the Trinity and a Christian, and of the Law and a Christian.
EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT. These two short treatises were found among Mr. Bunyan's papers after his decease. They probably were intended for publication, like his 'Prison Meditations' and his 'Map of Salvation,' on a single page each, in the form of a broadside, or handbill. This was the popular mode in which tracts were distributed; and when posted against a wall, or framed and hung up in a room, they excited notice, and were extensively read. They might also have afforded some trifling profit to aid
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Great Gain of Godliness
'And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon. 26. And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. 27. And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon's table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing. 28. Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries brought they unto the place where the officers were,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Of Meditating on the Future Life.
1. The design of God in afflicting his people. 1. To accustom us to despise the present life. Our infatuated love of it. Afflictions employed as the cure. 2. To lead us to aspire to heaven. 2. Excessive love of the present life prevents us from duly aspiring to the other. Hence the disadvantages of prosperity. Blindness of the human judgment. Our philosophizing on the vanity of life only of momentary influence. The necessity of the cross. 3. The present life an evidence of the divine favour to his
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

The Present Life as Related to the Future.
LUKE xvi. 25.--"And Abraham said, Son remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." The parable of Dives and Lazarus is one of the most solemn passages in the whole Revelation of God. In it, our Lord gives very definite statements concerning the condition of those who have departed this life. It makes no practical difference, whether we assume that this was a real occurrence, or only an imaginary
William G.T. Shedd—Sermons to the Natural Man

Covenanting a Privilege of Believers.
Whatever attainment is made by any as distinguished from the wicked, or whatever gracious benefit is enjoyed, is a spiritual privilege. Adoption into the family of God is of this character. "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power (margin, or, the right; or, privilege) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."[617] And every co-ordinate benefit is essentially so likewise. The evidence besides, that Covenanting
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

Covenanting Adapted to the Moral Constitution of Man.
The law of God originates in his nature, but the attributes of his creatures are due to his sovereignty. The former is, accordingly, to be viewed as necessarily obligatory on the moral subjects of his government, and the latter--which are all consistent with the holiness of the Divine nature, are to be considered as called into exercise according to his appointment. Hence, also, the law of God is independent of his creatures, though made known on their account; but the operation of their attributes
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

Cæsarius of Arles.
He was born in the district of Chalons-sur-Saone, A. D. 470. He seems to have been early awakened, by a pious education, to vital Christianity. When he was between seven and eight years old, it would often happen that he would give a portion of his clothes to the poor whom he met, and would say, when he came home, that he had been, constrained to do so. When yet a youth, he entered the celebrated convent on the island of Lerins, (Lerina,) in Provence, from which a spirit of deep and practical piety
Augustus Neander—Light in the Dark Places

The Noble Results of this Species of Prayer
The Noble Results of this Species of Prayer Some persons, when they hear of the prayer of silence, falsely imagine, that the soul remains stupid, dead, and inactive. But, unquestionably, it acteth therein, more nobly and more extensively than it had ever done before; for God Himself is the mover, and the soul now acteth by the agency of His Spirit. When S. Paul speaks of our being led by the Spirit of God, it is not meant that we should cease from action; but that we should act through the internal
Madame Guyon—A Short and Easy Method of Prayer

The Nature of Spiritual Hunger
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness Matthew 5:6 We are now come to the fourth step of blessedness: Blessed are they that hunger'. The words fall into two parts: a duty implied; a promise annexed. A duty implied: Blessed are they that hunger'. Spiritual hunger is a blessed hunger. What is meant by hunger? Hunger is put for desire (Isaiah 26:9). Spiritual hunger is the rational appetite whereby the soul pants after that which it apprehends most suitable and proportional
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

The Poetical Books (Including Also Ecclesiastes and Canticles).
1. The Hebrews reckon but three books as poetical, namely: Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, which are distinguished from the rest by a stricter rhythm--the rhythm not of feet, but of clauses (see below, No. 3)--and a peculiar system of accentuation. It is obvious to every reader that the poetry of the Old Testament, in the usual sense of the word, is not restricted to these three books. But they are called poetical in a special and technical sense. In any natural classification of the books of the
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible

The Unchangeableness of God
The next attribute is God's unchangeableness. I am Jehovah, I change not.' Mal 3:3. I. God is unchangeable in his nature. II. In his decree. I. Unchangeable in his nature. 1. There is no eclipse of his brightness. 2. No period put to his being. [1] No eclipse of his brightness. His essence shines with a fixed lustre. With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.' James 1:17. Thou art the same.' Psa 102:27. All created things are full of vicissitudes. Princes and emperors are subject to
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

This State of Prayer not one of Idleness, but of Noble Action, Wrought by the Spirit of God, and in Dependence Upon Him --The Communication Of
Some people, hearing of the prayer of silence, have wrongly imagined that the soul remains inactive, lifeless, and without movement. But the truth is, that its action is more noble and more extensive than it ever was before it entered this degree, since it is moved by God Himself, and acted upon by His Spirit. St Paul desires that we should be led by the Spirit of God (Rom. viii. 14). I do not say that there must be no action, but that we must act in dependence upon the divine movement. This
Jeanne Marie Bouvières—A Short Method Of Prayer And Spiritual Torrents

Of Meditating on the Future Life.
The three divisions of this chapter,--I. The principal use of the cross is, that it in various ways accustoms us to despise the present, and excites us to aspire to the future life, sec. 1, 2. II. In withdrawing from the present life we must neither shun it nor feel hatred for it; but desiring the future life, gladly quit the present at the command of our sovereign Master, see. 3, 4. III. Our infirmity in dreading death described. The correction and safe remedy, sec. 6. 1. WHATEVER be the kind of
Archpriest John Iliytch Sergieff—On the Christian Life

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