Whom have I in heaven but you?
- Truly, God is loving to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
- Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone;
my steps had well-nigh slipped.
- For I was envious of the proud;
I saw the wicked in such prosperity;
- For they suffer no pains
and their bodies are sleek and sound;
- They come to no misfortune like other folk;
nor are they plagued as others are;
- Therefore pride is their necklace
and violence wraps them like a cloak.
- Their iniquity comes from within;
the conceits of their hearts overflow.
- They scoff, and speak only of evil;
they talk of oppression from on high.
- They set their mouth against the heavens,
and their tongue ranges round the earth;
- And so the people turn to them
and find in them no fault.
- They say, ‘How should God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?’
- Behold, these are the wicked;
ever at ease, they increase their wealth.
- Is it in vain that I cleansed my heart
and washed my hands in innocence?
- All day long have I been stricken
and chastened every morning.
- If I had said, ‘I will speak as they do,’
I should have betrayed the generation of your children.
- Then thought I to understand this,
but it was too hard for me,
- Until I entered the sanctuary of God
and understood the end of the wicked:
- How you set them in slippery places;
you cast them down to destruction.
- How suddenly do they come to destruction,
perish and come to a fearful end!
- As with a dream when one awakes,
so, Lord, when you arise you will despise their image.
- When my heart became embittered
and I was pierced to the quick,
- I was but foolish and ignorant;
I was like a brute beast in your presence.
- Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
- You will guide me with your counsel
and afterwards receive me with glory.
- Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing upon earth that I desire
in comparison with you.
- Though my flesh and my heart fail me,
God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.
- Truly, those who forsake you will perish;
you will put to silence the faithless who betray you.
- But it is good for me to draw near to God;
in the Lord God have I made my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I do wonder what is going on in the world. Why do some people get away with things? Why do the wicked prosper? Why do the bad guys have all the fun?
It seems that these questions have troubled God’s people for many years. In today’s Psalm the writer, Asaph, is pouring out his misery and discontent. He looks at the world around him and he’s envious of what other people seem to have in comparison to what he has.
They don’t walk with God but yet they seem so happy. Life for them seems easy. They’re healthy and wealthy, and they don’t seem to be struggling with the same problems that God’s people face.
It causes Asaph to question whether it is worth it following God. I am sure that at some time in our lives we will have had the same questions.
What do we do when those thoughts fill our minds? I have found that we need to stop comparing our lives to others. And stop looking at ourselves, our problems, the things we haven’t got that everyone else seems to have, and look to Jesus. Because when we look to Jesus we realise that we are truly blessed, simply because we are his.
That’s what Asaph did. Halfway through the Psalm, after struggling to make sense of things, he takes his doubts and confusion to God in prayer. And when he does this his thinking changes. He sees the bigger picture.
He sees what the reality is. He is reminded of God’s character and his power. He can see both God’s judgment of sin and the solution that God offers to sinners. He sees, as is written in 1 John 2: 17, “the world and its desires pass away, but those who do the will of God live forever”.
It may look like these other people who despise God have it all, but they don’t. They really have nothing, and what they seem to have won’t last. Even though by worldly standards, Asaph – a believer – doesn’t have a lot, he realizes he’s the one with everything, because he has God.
This moves him to pour out his heart to the Lord. He sees his own grumbling heart, and he repents. In verses 24 and 25 he says: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire in comparison with you. Though my flesh and my heart fail me, God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.”
Surely there is nothing on earth that can compare to knowing and being known by God? Asaph realised and understood this – not just in his head but deep in his heart.
And that is the lesson for us to learn: to take our eyes off ourselves, our wants, our problems and to look to our God. When we do that we realise how blessed we are.
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire in comparison with you.” (Psalm 73.25)
Reflection by Sue Fulford
Associate Hub Leader (South Hub)