Posted by: rcottrill | December 20, 2009

Back to Basics

I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:23-26)

Asaph, the psalmist, confesses he once had a problem. He had begun to be envious of sinners who seemed to have it all. It seemed so unfair that wicked people were prospering, while he struggled (vs. 2-3). The fact is he had fallen into the trap of evaluating life on their terms–temporal and material terms. It took a visit to the temple to help him regain an eternal and spiritual viewpoint (vs. 17).

Sometimes, when our values are skewed, we need to get back to basics, to see once again God’s perspective on things. Time spent in the house of God, in fellowship with His people, can help us to do that. So can time spent in the Word of God. The seeming advantages of the wicked are transitory at best. As for the believer, we have the presence of God, His sustaining hold on us, His guidance, and an eternal future with Him to look forward to. The “portion” of the wicked will soon crumble to dust, but the Christian can say, “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

This is an Old Testament passage. And in keeping with the fact that most of the Old Testament concerns God’s earthly people, Israel, and that the covenants God made with them concern mostly earthly blessings, there is relatively little said about life beyond the grave. For the ancient Hebrews, physical death was viewed as the end of life as they knew it, the end of their present warring and witnessing for God.

A fuller revelation of what comes after death awaited the New Testament. Nevertheless, there is enough in the Old to show that these early saints were confident of spending eternity in the blessed presence of God. “You will…afterward receive me to glory” (vs. 24; cf. Job 19:25-27; Ps. 16:10-11; 23:6).

Meanwhile, even in this life they were not actually disadvantaged, nor are we, as Asaph shows us. We can testify with him, “God is the strength of my heart”–literally, the rock on which my soul rests. Someone has said, “For the believer, when you hit rock bottom, you are still on the Rock!” That is far better than the “slippery places” inhabited by the unregenerate (vs. 18).

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.


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