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A Paradigm Shift for Asaph

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 23, 2021 7:00 am

A Paradigm Shift for Asaph

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 23, 2021 7:00 am

Have you ever known an ungodly person who seems to have everything and to have everything go his way? Has it caused you to feel resentful and maybe even question God? Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice we’re studying Psalm 73, a Psalm of Asaph as he inquires, In God’s universe, why do the wicked prosper?

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Is it ever right to question the ways of God. We all have times of doubt. As we look around and see what appears to be the unfairness of life Asaph at Temple musician had the same doubts and invoices them in Psalm 73, which is been called an example of faith doubting what it actually believes welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James orts repairing you to think and act biblically having doubts doesn't cancel our faith in Asaph shows us a pattern for handling the doubt succumb to everyone as we observe the fallen world around us. Let's join Dr. Boyce as he examined Psalm 73 and discover Asaph's conclusions as he studies the seeming prosperity of the wicked from God's perspective, there are a lot of buzzwords in the English language that I am one of his buzzwords but that's not the only one. A lot of them come from our computer-aided we talk about being on wine or downtime or user-friendly and then we have things like political correctness, while others like that little boy favorite buzzwords is paradigm shift. I referred to it before and it's in the title of our study denied it when I first got a thing about it I couldn't really think what a paradigm once had to look it up in the dictionary and in case you don't know a paradigm is a complete working out of a conjugation of a verb or a declension of a noun, so you get it down on paper and all its possible forms of you master the paradigm and you never make a mistake we ought not make a mistake in the use of a particular word. Such a system. I'm only talk about a paradigm shift were talking about a shift from one way of looking at things.

One complete system to another philosopher they are in theology.

What really talking about is a world in life you only got about a paradigm shift in the case of assets who had one. Were talking about an entirely different way of looking at things. Now the song my ass off. 73 of the first of these forms in the third book of the solar and I suppose the place to begin is by asking who ass up months. Not exactly the kind of name that comes Tripoli on the tongue that appeared on one of the game shows, nobody would be able to identify who is he was one of the temple musicians was appointed to that position by David as part of a section of the tribe of Levi with the priest and their job was to handle the music of the temple asset which is one of them at the beginning, seemingly but he must've come to ascendance because the whole family of musicians at least one block of them began to be named for Kim so they were all of the descendents of asset David, it would seem, when he wrote Psalm gave some of the Psalms that he wrote asked after that the music presumably thing to perform but accepted Psalms of his own already seen one of them 50th. Saul is my ass off and I when we get into this portion of the salt that is the beginning of book 3 we have a whole block of matter by him. 11 of them, of all Psalm 73 to 83. This, to round out what we find in this third book of the Psalms are six more in this particular section and four of them, or by the sons of Cora, who are also Temple musician distinguishes this block started book of the Psalter resident has Psalms by this official group of musicians that led and directed the worship of the temple.

One thing that makes asset so very attractive when we read the Psalms go by. His name is his honesty is complete honesty is honest about everything out himself and about what he sees around him. What bothers him.

In this study looks out at the people lower wicked art marked by godliness. All in all appearances they seem to be doing very well. There prospering as a lengthy section of this where he describes what they're like and I bothers him bother him if he really believed in chance universe that is something to start out well for some people. Things don't just buy it is after keep a stiff upper lip written Barrett Bystolic, but if he was in the starlight that was in his philosophy. He was a Jew who believe in God.

Indeed, he was involved in the worship of God and one thing we know about God is that he's good. Another thing we know about God is sovereign. The question is moral universe ruled sovereignly by God.

How is it that the wicked prosper. We cannot fail in their pursuits and lose their money loser reputation, but instead they seem to go on do quite well and godly. By contrast, don't do nearly as well and sometimes they even suffer, sometimes godly lose everything real?

That's a serious question and most Christians, among others how to do one time or another. It's debated at different places in the Bible and the 73rd Psalm is not the only place it is.

For example in the book of Job and is also the issue was raised in Psalm 37 we already looked at Psalm 37 occasionally here are over the course of time. We referred to Job. Interesting thing about these three places where this particular problem is discussed is that the answer you get at the answer.

The writer gets is somewhat different in each case. All that really means is that they are each seeing a part of the problem with early seeing part of the problem. For example, in Psalm 37 that's a Psalm that is identified as being by David.

David looks out at the wicked, and he says, how come they're doing so well in the answer is just wait a little while now they seem to be doing well now, but they're gonna slip pretty soon, get into trouble happened in this life is quite long enough you'll see. You may know, the first two verses they set the theme of that Psalm do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong for like the Grassley will soon wither like green plants.

They will soon die away. This happened quite often. Sin has built-in flaws Greeks used to talk about the most flaws of character at a stroke where have those things that you tend to bring it out, but not always diagnose the wicked diet rich and say they die in good health course or they wouldn't die, but they seem to do pretty well for a long long time.

And then of course we all have to die eventually. So there's that problem with. That's the way David speaks about it. In Psalm 37, Joe book of Job is dealing with this question and from our perspective, we were able to read the first chapter and the last we understand that this has to do with the cosmic warfare. God, demonstrating the war the Angels the rightness of his ways and Amana worship God because of who God is not because God makes them rich. But the interesting thing about the book as a Job doesn't get the answer.

God speaks to Job would God doesn't give Job the answer Job you know loses everything he said most extreme example of the suffering of the righteous in all the Bible. First of all, because God identifies them as righteous, and moreover God says is none like him in all the earth is more righteous than anybody.

God spells it out and then he loses everything with all his possessions all his family. Even his health filing the any sitting there on the Ashley scraping himself absolute misery and that introduces the debates of the book counselors, try to provide answers to these questions are all superficial. Nonetheless, of the kind of answers you and I sometimes give her that we hear when we are in trouble and only toward the end of the book is God begin answer we begin to say to ourselves.

Well, now at last got the answer but what God does is use Job even further, because God begins to say to Job you when I made the you think you're so smart you can figure out the single you around.

When I separated the firmament from the waters. Were you around when I put the stars in the heaven, where you around. When I created the animals a gamble upon the mountains of the fish in the safe and after he gets through about four chapters that kind of interrogation. Job is absolutely nothing to say.

All he confesses it is an absolutely ignorant man understand what's going on but but even then a right to understand what's going on what he says in the 42nd chapter is surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things to wonderful for me to know was the answer in Psalm 73 this were multiple-choice, ABC and D had answer. Psalm 37 answer of job correct answer to that question would be none of the above as it doesn't say well just wait around a little bit later to get it eventually you doesn't say in this way. I don't know.

I can't possibly not. That's not his answer what he says this is perception is that in the end is not in this life but adamantly in the life to come. The wicked will be judged so as answer is this, regardless of how we get on in this life.

It is still better to do good.

It is still better to be righteous, it is still better to be a follower of the true God because life is not all there is in any way that's a as he begins to think about that not only sees the destiny of the wicked, but he sees that God is with them, even in this life similar to what he has to go through eternal parities or real only for the wicked, but there true for himself as well.

Now in providing that answer.

Psalm 73 is, in my judgment, the most perceptive analysis and answer all of Scripture, and it is probably no on the human level, at least of the fact that asset is so honest doesn't hesitate to put these questions before God.

Now Psalm 73 is an example of faith. Honestly doubting what it does in fact believe say that again. Psalm 73 is an example of faith. Honestly doubting what it does in fact believe I say that is because of the way asset begins are well aware of the kind of questions that are raised by particularly proud people, especially ministers come up with this, there are people who just a joy and pride in being able to raise questions that you're not immediately able to answer like I am a smirk on their face and come back with an immediate answer answer is not doing that as of this doubting is raising questions. What is not raising it that way. And the reason we know is the starting point that the point from which he starts out and that is verse one. Shortly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart verses are going to recording very graphic language, how that faith was shaken asset for the time he found himself doubting and in fact on slippery ground that ready to slide away from God loses faith entirely, which in fact he doesn't do but anyway money does here. The beginning is tell the point at which he really came out in the end, where he came out shortly. God is good Israel to those who are pure in heart, you want to get a mental outline of the Psalm in your mind you have to realize that it starts where it happens.

Start with the fact that God is good Israel. God does right is a good God and you have this decline. Asset describes how he looked around at the wicked what happened to him what he sought. He almost lost his faith in you come to a turning point in verses 16 and 17 here in the middle. He described how we went into the sanctuary into the house of God only went to church as we would say, and there he began to see things differently. That's where he had his paradigm shift in the second half of the describes how God by grace. Having reached here in the sanctuary begins to lift them up out of that and so finally at the end he gets back to the point which he began.

Shirley God is good Israel to those who are upright in heart. One of the great commentators on the Psalm Stuart Perrone says rightly that this is no parade of dollars merely as doubt he states first in the most natural way. The final convictions of his heart asset did not. That's the point.

We doubt to see how it is that he doubted and what he actually did doubt now. He says in verse one. Surely God is good when in the next verse he makes a contrast with himself. But as for me, well at work. God is good. I'm not. I'm corrupting the debased reasonings of my heart. He wants to save, surely God is steadfast and can be trusted. I'm not because my feet. It almost slipped. I was beginning to slide well what is it what is it that bothered him what he observed, as I said was the prosperity of the wicked itself is not what launched them on the slippery downhill path. What he says in verses two and three.

Speaking now. Very honestly as real problem is that he had become envious of the wicked, and it was as a result of this speech had almost slipped his words, this problem wasn't merely that he looked out and saw that somebody else was wealthy. I want that well thanks a lot, even for that matter that he looked at himself and realize that he was poor or that Somebody else realizing they had good health. Look at himself and realize this wasn't so good that they were among the young and the beautiful, and he was the old and the ugly self isn't bad. The problem was. He looked at them and he was envious they had money that he didn't have a they had hoped that he didn't have or they had a reputation that he didn't hang out.

They had good he had it hard and so he was envious about you seek in the of others is really distrust and disbelief in God's way of saying the God and doing it right. In my case, they should be the other way around. And what that really is a sin for what acid is doing here very bold and forthright wife is confessing his sin is in verses two and three in verses four through 11. He begins to describe the wicked, and so he tells us what really seemed to be like as he looked at hers what he says.

Verses four through six. I have no struggles or bodies are healthy and strong are free from the burdens, and the man are not plagued by human ills. Therefore, pride is their necklace. They clothed themselves with violence. Verse 11 even say how can God know is the most high, have knowledge as a what he saying you seem to have any problems why should they have plenty of money the way we think, to have good health and the best doctors the best food ever go wrong with them and that not only that they thrive on pride are being what they like I'm in bad enough I got only thing out of it and the more he thinks about it the angrier he gets. One of the things that bothers righteous, often those that the wicked seem to get away with their wickedness, and recognize that one of his places and he refers to an ancient tyrant of the island of Sicily's name is Di Alecia's the younger and easiest plundered the great temple at Syracuse on the island of Sicily and when he was going home. He said do you not see how the gods favor those who commit sacrilege product they got away with it, and that bothers us. We look at the wicked, and they do that so that's what he describes now swelling is a summary is really kind of a neat little summary. This is what the wicked are like.

He says they are always carefree and they increase in wealth out running television in that respect ever see the lifestyles and what I meant to say of the rich and famous right good they have it there carefree I just sent all over the world. Almost like some preachers I know. And not only did they do that they don't seem to have any worries at all. And the rich to boot 12.

That's what he says there like now having done all of that EE draws a conclusion is is where I came out I was looking around the wicked. In verses 13 and 14 same. I asked myself as if that's the case, what is the point of being godly or we would say what's the point of being a Christian. If the non-Christians get all the things I really want.

Not only that I don't I get them things even worse for me because I'm persecuted door I get in trouble for trying to be good. Surely in vain if I kept my heart pure in vain and I wash my hands in innocence all day long I've been plagued I have been punished every morning. Well before we go on let's just ask the question we ever felt like that of you ever felt like you have. We always find ourselves feeling that way when we get our eyes on God and that's exactly what I 7.he was looking at the wicked, and so it began to be jealous of what they had.

You might do that by looking at the neighbor going better than you are somebody at work is prospering when you're not prospering gets the job you don't get the job just by looking at television because I can't think of any way to look around and see the wicked more than watching television and furthermore is glorified that way of life. It's a lie. But nevertheless is what we see as part of our culture and that's what NASA did let me point out that even at this low point when he is impressed by what he sees in jealous of those who have things that he doesn't have he still a believing child of God, reason I say that is probably because of what he says next. He says that although we felt this way, did not want to say what he was feeling out loud because he didn't want to hurt the faith of other people ready refers to the masses. This generation of your children. He said if I had actually said this is thinking consuming me, but I actually said this. It would've part of the children of God. That's significant significant for a number of reasons.

First of all, it tells us that having doubts like passive pad is not incompatible with actually being a believer medevac. You can't doubtless you're a believer because you have to doubt something you actually believe that's why I was given some years ago, wrote a book called between two minds. They don't have any faith at all well is nothing to doubt you have got to go on. Things are miserable without doubting the faith that believers who have trouble so we learn something about that. We also learn something about keeping quiet where your personal problems are concerned must come almost as an un-real unbelievable statement in our day because in our daily when do exactly the opposite. Our philosophy in our day to let it all hang out at any doubt to speak about your doubts. I probably talk about your problems and some ministers I might say they call career of doing that. I heard some of them stand up and say you know I I was reading this thing this weekend. I really can't believe it. I find myself not being able to believe that I can tell you where I'm coming from and so they begin to unfold. All the doubts that they have a good anybody all right for them to have the doubts and shut up about it. Work through and find out the answer which is what NASA did. But usually we have the idea that we have to do that we say we have responsibilities to others that mean we should be hypocrites and people we can talk to any of us to have that responsibility to present the truth other people and so NSF even though he's having all these problems. Nevertheless, deep in his heart knows what he says in verse one that God is good is really good to the upright in heart.

So that's the message he wants to be sure, communicates, even though this deep level he wrestles with his problem and suddenly on this downhill path. There comes this turning point that I talked about you find it in verses 16 and 17, just when he was about to be swept away assets on his downer entered the sanctuary of God, and there came to understand the final destiny of the wicked in a number of other things beside now the destiny of the wicked means or final judgment that is that they are going to die and be separated from God and spend eternity in hell.

That much is clear. But what we want to ask here is what is the connection between this important perception in the psalmist entering into the sanctuary is that's what he says. He says I almost slept until I went into the sanctuary and there I perceive their final and oddity get that insight was the connection between the two. Well I mentioned John Calvin a moment ago Calvin said it is because of the sanctuary he learned the law of God the Word of God was taught to him and Calvin makes a point that the law of God was kept in the holy place next to the ark and so part of the duty of the priest was to expound the loss of Calvin said he learned the truth by listening to the word of God just as spring at the Philadelphia conference of reformed theology. Robert Godfrey, the president of Westminster theological seminary in California preached on this law when he said in his judgment had to do the altar different view of the owners where the sacrifices were made for sin, and so he supposed.

What happened is this asset when in the temple enclosure in this place, the tabernacle enclosure and there he saw the owner and he realized because he saw the altar and that great dim demonstration visually of the fact that the wages of sin is death, and the animals have to die in parish or you have to perish yourself the end of the wicked would be judgment.

I think both of those probably have an element of truth in them, but I think the real answer probably is a bigger answer than that, as a do what I call this turning point. This paradigm shift the fact that he saw things one way and he came to see things the other white. What happened when he went into the sanctuary of God is that instead of seeing things from a human point of view, which was limited to began to see all things from God's point of view, say from the viewpoint of eternity. We point out the worship would do that for you and that is one of the reasons for worship. Worship of courses to give pleasure to God. He delights in the worship of his people. Or she was a joy for us enjoyment of God is seen in worship and worship is also that where we get our minds reoriented all week long route there in the world and the world is saying a man with the center of all things, all things are from me in all my glory. That's the world's message and you come into church and you are reminded that is not like that this world is not here for Mammon was a blind man billed by evidence for man's glory, but rather is from God's will by governments, for God's glory. And furthermore were going to have an eternity to reckon with God, and you begin to see that in worship service.

Roy Clements is a Baptist preacher in England. The Cambridge very well known over there is a great evangelical and he's written a sermon on this law where he links this new perspective explicitly to worship what he says is this worship puts God at the center of our vision is vitally important because it's only when God is at the center of our vision that we see things as they really are.

When I began I gave you a little overview of the flow of the Psalm mixing the starting point and apply the turning point. Now it begins to go back up. In verses 18 to 26 is the second half of the Psalm of this happens answer touches on three main areas are one had a new awareness of the destiny of the wicked is verses 18 through 20.

That's what we've been talking about when it seemed very secure in their wickedness are well. But what asset came to say is that they are not actually secure there actually very insecure there on slippery ground and only takes a gentle puff by God to blow them off their pedestal of wickedness and send them down to ruin.

Having learned to look at those he had ended, from God's perspective, he now sees that this prosperity there enjoying is if you look at it in that perspective, just a fantasy positive dream dream is just in your mind you wake up in the morning, it's gone.

There's nothing to it.

So he says that's what they're prosperity is like I didn't know that I really understand it or feel it. So I went to church any scissors for the second thing. Not only did he get a new awareness of the destiny of the wicked where they're headed. He got a new awareness of himself. You would say at this point.

Well, that awareness must be there. Headed to judgment but lightheaded to glory. That's not where he begins his first awareness of himself as he realizes that when he was doubting God and taking things into his own hands and giving what God was doing in the world. He was actually being senseless and ignorant and not wise.

As a matter fact, he says, I was like a brute beast before God. Remember I said that envy is sin. That's what sin does to us and turns us into beasts were made to be the image of God, and know God and worship God. But we don't do that, we turn our back on God and go our way as asset was doing. That's what the slippery slope was all about.

Then you begin to behave like animals begin to think like animals and begin enabling animals to that's what is happening with our culture. We say that in a certain sense, as far as Job got far, God revealed the thing to job Job came to the point of the end of God speaking to him after that interrogation that I described in chapters 38 to 41 of that of that book to recognize he was simply ignorant because did not know when he was questioning God. He was like an animal like a brute beast letter. They're saying there is wisdom, reason, rationality, and since we were talking about ourselves. On the one hand, the way about on the other saying that we know that recognizing we don't so as of the say lease that is true, but now number three. Not only did he have a new awareness of the destiny of the wicked and the new awareness of the way he'd been acting also had a new awareness of God's presence is also of God's genuine blessing on the righteous, even in this life. He recovered a new spiritual balance you say what he realized when he went into the sanctuary is that God is been with them all along that even as doubting God was with him and was holding him up and bring him to the point at which he was coming now.

On these verses 23 to 26 are really the apogee of his testimony on their road with some of the finest expressions of faith and true spirituality of old Bible really need to be read going to read them. I should also be memorized be a wonderful passage to memorize if your in the practice of memorizing Scripture from time to time and I hope you are. Listen to what he says yet I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will take me in the glory.

Sometimes you hear people talk about the Old Testament as of the Old Testament saints did not have any true understanding of the afterlife. The only good for the present Lake had a great concern for the present. That's true, is not true that they didn't understand about the afterlife is a great example of it. You guide me with your counsel that is now keep me on track with what he saying afterward that is when I die, you're going to take me in the glory not only talking about the destiny of the wicked is talking about the destiny of the righteous to now verse 25 whom have I in heaven, but you a lot and being with you I desire nothing on earth my flesh of my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever as last two verses are particularly find expression of true spirituality and righteousness and they been a blessing to many people down through the ages, many people to memorize them. You may not know that Charles Wesley, the great Methodist hymn writer was reflecting on those verses on his deathbed and the actually composed to him based on those verses as he was dying was last thing he wrote couldn't even write it down, but he called his wife over to his bedside in his body dictated magic commands dying in his mind is still working in a poetic fashion than what is thinking about the Scripture thing about those verses, I just read. Remember, who have I in heaven but you being with you I desire nothing on earth my flesh, my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever, and here's what Wesley did with it in age and feebleness extreme.

What shall a sinful worm redeem Jesus. My only hope thou art strength of my failing flesh from heart all can I catch a smile from the and drop into eternity. My good that it right. Testimony by a great saints. While many Christians have been able to echo this almost confessing that in the final analysis billing really matters is God and our relationship to him.

That's going to come Monday you and I are going to die maybe sooner may be late.

Maybe suddenly you might not have an opportunity to think about it is a whether it's sudden or slow early or late in the final analysis that you and God much money you have such a reputation as whether when you die, you go to be with him forever more. Whether you suffer the judgment of the wicked. God is all we have the final analysis, but he is also all we need. See how important that is. He guides us here in afterward to receive us of the glory of the very last verses contain massive spinal testimony and is a summary of what he steadied the first of the wicked will perish in the end, and secondly, God will be with the righteous, and they will be with him and then in a great understatement. He declares, but as for me, it's good to be near God you feel that good to be near God is why we go to church. That's why we study the Bible is why we pray is why we fellowship with other Christians as means of keeping us near God is good to be near God.

All we have to go in the world you have to make a living. You can get out of the world. All they care that in time when he takes you to heaven, but now you have to be there but you sleep.

It is good to be near God. So that's the point at which ass off and not what I want to give you a final observation. I hope you be able to remember it and take it with you. It concerns the progression of the pronouns in the Saul you look back at the first section as far as verse 12 will find that the pronoun that is emphasized there is that it's referring to the wicked, Psalms has his eyes fixed on them. That's his problem.

The second section, verses 13 to 17.

The dominant pronoun is I the having looked at the wicked eval comparisons so himself with them and set an unfortunate comparison from his point of view is not doing well. They are, and I'm not always thinking about himself. That's where the envy comes that the first section, verses 18 through 22, after he has his paradigm shift when he goes to the sanctuary, the dominant pronoun is you is referring to God's. Stop thinking about others comparing himself to them thinking about himself is thinking about God instead. Then notice this in the final section of the Psalm versus 23 to 28. You and I combine goes here. Asif is saying you as God is that your hand on me and I for my part, want nothing on earth, but you and I really need to learn that lesson we need to learn the deepest possible way the world is helpless or that world out there is going to point your attention to God. Point your attention to yourself and your always good to be dissatisfied to see if you learn left your eyes up, mother, people were not worth all that contemplation anyway and from yourself deserve it even less. I look to God is that all things are really different and you begin to say, as Jesus taught us understand heaven and earth are going to pass away all of that, the one who knows God does the will of God is going to abide forever spray father. Her thankful for the Psalm for the lesson is in it for the struggle of this man went through or when it is been a blessing.

So many people down through the ages. Granted, it may be a blessing us to so easy for us who are consumed by the world surrounded by the world, permeated by the world. Never really think in spiritual ways. Here's a man who did and we can do it to. By your grace helpless to do it and so grow in grace the sake of Jesus Christ, with whom, by grace, we will spend eternity. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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