Roman author Phaedrus once quipped, “Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many.” When the author of Psalm 73 looked around him, his first impression was of a world where the wicked flourish. He found himself envious of the arrogant (v. 3). It looked to him like the wicked could plot evil, engage in violence, and even mock God and—not only get away with it— but even thrive (vv. 4–12)!
The Psalmist then examined his own life. He had labored to keep his heart pure before God (v. 13). Yet, all his labor seemed to be in vain. He experienced only affliction and pain (v. 14). Didn’t justice demand that the godly prosper and the wicked be punished? Didn’t Scripture teach that truth (see Psalm 1)? This led him to a crisis of faith. He worried about defaming God before others and was deeply troubled in spirit (vv. 15–16).
The turning point comes in verse 17: “. . . till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” His first impression of the world had been deceptive. The reality was that the wicked were on “slippery ground” (v. 18). Their current prosperity only masked the reality that they were under God’s judgment (vv. 18–19). The Psalmist also realized he was not as forsaken as he had thought. God was with him and that was a better gift than any amount of wealth (vv. 23–24). Even if his material prosperity and physical health gave way, God was still his most precious possession (v. 26). This change in perspective came from an encounter with God in worship at the sanctuary (v. 17).
>> One of the reasons regular worship is important is that it helps us see the world properly. When we worship, we are reminded of God’s sovereign rule, of the salvation He has achieved for us in Christ, and of our secure hope in His return.