INTERESTING FACTS : Josiah Bartlett, MILITARY OFFICER; SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; JUDGE; GOVERNOR OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
"Called on the people of New Hampshire . . . to confess before God their aggravated transgressions and to implore His pardon and forgiveness through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ . . . [t]hat the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be made known to all nations, pure and undefiled religion universally prevail, and the earth be fill with the glory of the Lord."
Daily Reading : PSALMS 70 - 73
TEXT : Psa 73:23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Psa 73:24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Psa 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. Psa 73:26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Psa 73:27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. Psa 73:28 But 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.
THEME : SERVING GOD
Anyone who has sought after God in a serious, whole-hearted, and undivided manner has come across many trials and temptations. Among them is what is contained in the 73rd Psalm. Specifically, why is life so simple [and easy] for those who do not live for God, and so difficult and arduous for those who do? Many a godly man or woman has been down cast at the apparent success of those who "break the rules" and spurn Christ, while they [i.e. the godly] struggle day after day. This is the topic taken up by the Psalmist at the start of Psalm 73. Interestingly, Psalm 73 is close in subject matter with Psalm 37 - its numeric opposite. For this reason, the two are linked and the opposite numbers serve as a memory aid.
"Curiously enough this Seventy-third Psalm corresponds in subject with the Psa_37:1; it will help the memory of the young to notice the reversed figures. The theme is that ancient stumbling-block of good men, which Job's friends could not get over; viz. - the present prosperity of wicked men and the sorrows of the godly. Heathen philosophers have puzzled themselves about this, while to believers it has too often been a temptation." [C.H. SPURGEON]
As God trains [through much discipline] the Christian to become [more] godly, the trials of faith increase. No doubt, they can be demanding, toilsome, and taxing. For this reason, the Christian can be tempted to compare himself or herself with others - to lazy believers and sinful non-believers, and wonder why they have it easy. After all, it should stand to reason that to serve God means ease and comfort. However, the reverse is true. God so thoroughly trains His people, that it seems impossible to enjoy life - at least at the moment. With the past gone, the Christian can forget he or she is being conformed to the image of God' Son, and forget that it is a long journey to that end.
Therefore, the Christian must reflect - in the Word, in prayer, in [Biblical] meditation, etc. and remember the end of his or her life and the end of those who reject Christ. The difference is as vast as the great gulf that separates Heaven and Hell. Those without Christ are living, but going to the land of the [eternal] dead. Yet, the Christian is dead [to the flesh and this world] while going to the land of immortality and an unending life with Christ in His Kingdom. This is no small contrast, no insignificant comparison.
If there were no place such as Hell, Jesus death on the cross would be reduced to a romantic notion and exhibition. In effect, it would be meaningless. In reality, it would be ridiculous. In particular, Jesus death on the cross would reach the height of absurdity as we sing, preach, and praise that implement of barbaric Roman cruelty. Thus, Jesus and His teachings would be reduced to nothing more than "a few good thoughts," and His life and deeds a combination of questionable mysticism and altruistic intentions.
Yet, there is a Hell, and if you cannot think of anything else on a day like Asaph had here, then praise God you have a home in Heaven and not a iron cell in the furnace of everlasting fire - where the worm does not die, and the fire is never extinguished! [Mar_9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Mar_9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mar_9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Mar_9:46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mar_9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.]
Therefore, it is better to walk with Christ on His narrow path - alone if need be, then to laugh and indulge yourself in sin on the wide, easy road that ends in destruction! [Mat 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Mat 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.]
The Seventy-third Psalm is a very striking record of the mental struggle which an eminently pious Jew underwent, when he contemplated the respective conditions of the righteous and the wicked. Fresh from the conflict, he somewhat abruptly opens the Psalm with the confident enunciation of the truth of which victory over doubt had now made him more and more intelligently sure than ever, that "God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart." And then he relates the most fatal shock which his faith had received, when he contrasted the prosperity of the wicked, who, though they proudly contemned God and man, prospered in the world and increased in riches, with his own lot, who, though he had cleansed his heart and washed his hands in innocency, had been "plagued all the day long and chastened every morning." 'The place where his doubts were removed and his tottering faith re-established, was "the sanctuary of God." God himself was the Teacher. What, then, did he teach? By what divinely imparted considerations was the Psalmist reassured? Whatever is the proper rendering of Psa_73:4; whether, "There are no sorrows (tending) to their death," or, "There are no sorrows until their death," - their whole life to the very last is one unchequered course of happiness - that verse conveys to us the Psalmist's mistaken estimate of the prosperity of the wicked, before he went unto the sanctuary of God. The true estimate, at which he afterwards arrived, is found in Psa_73:18-20. Now, admitting (what, by the way, is somewhat difficult of belief, inasmuch as the sudden and fearful temporal destruction of all or even the most prosperous cannot be made out) that the end of these men "means only and always their end in this world, we come to the conclusion that, in the case of the wicked, this Psalm does not plainly and undeniably teach that punishment awaits them after death; but only that, in estimating their condition, it is necessary, in order to vindicate the justice of God, to take in their whole career, and set over against their great prosperity the sudden and fearful reverses and destruction which they not unfrequently encounter. But, in turning to the other side of the comparison, the case of the righteous, we are not met by the thought, that as the prosperity of the wicked is but the preparation for their ruin, the raising higher the tower that the fall may be the greater, so the adversity of the godly is but an introduction to worldly wealth and honour. That thought is not foreign to the Old Testament writers. "Evil-doers shall be cut off;" writes one of them, "but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." Psa_37:9-11. But it is not so much as hinted at here, The daily chastening may continue, flesh and heart may fail, but God is good to Israel notwithstanding: he is their portion, their guide, their help while they live, and he will take them to his glorious presence when they die. "Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory." The New Testament has nothing higher or more spiritual than this. The reference of the last clause to happiness after death is, I believe, generally acknowledged by Jewish commentators. They left it to the candour of Christian expositors to doubt or deny it. - Thomas Thomason Perowne, in "The Essential Coherence of the Old and New Testaments." [THOMAS THOMASON]
When Jonathan Edwards, America's first, great theologian preached his famous message - "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," in Enfield, Connecticut on July 8, 1741, he forever carved his name in the tree of memorable sermons.[1
] A treatise on what happens to those without Christ and why they deserve such punishment, Edward's sermon - a must read for every serious Christian, is complimented by Psalm 73. What I mean is Psalm 73 works well with Edward's sermon from Deuteronomy 32:35 as it aids the Christian in considering his or her ways, and not to envy those without Christ. As flesh and blood, we are prone to discouragement in this Way of Life. However, as Psalm 73 states, your lot in this life and end thereof is - eternal life, a life without end, which cannot be compared to others who have refused and rejected Christ.
In this Psalm, the Psalmist (Asaph) relates the great difficulty which existed in his own mind, from the consideration of the wicked. He observes (Psa_73:2-3), "As for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." In the fourth and following verses he informs us what, in the wicked, was his temptation. In the first place, he observed, that they were prosperous, and all things went well with them. He then observed their behaviour in their prosperity, and the use which they made of it; and that God, notwithstanding such abuse, continued their prosperity. Then he tells us by what means he was helped out of this difficulty, viz., by going into the sanctuary (Psa_73:16-17), and proceeds to inform us what considerations they were which helped him, viz. - 1. The consideration of the miserable end of wicked men. However they prosper for the present, yet they come to a woeful end at last (Psa_73:18-20). 2. The consideration of the blessed end of the saints. Although the saints, while they live, may be afflicted, yet they come to a happy end at last (Psa_73:21-24). 3. The consideration that the godly have a much better portion than the wicked, even though they have no other portion; but God; as in Psa_73:25, 19 73:26. Though the wicked are in prosperity, and are not in trouble as other men; yet the godly, though in affliction, are in a state infinitely better, because they have God for their portion. They need desire nothing else; he that hath God hath all. Thus the Psalmist professes the sense and apprehension which he had of things; "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." In the Psa_73:24 the Psalmist takes notice how the saints are happy in God, both when they are in this world: and also when they are taken to another. They are blessed in God in this world, in that he guides them by his counsel; and when he takes them out of it they are still happy, in that he receives them to glory. This probably led him to declare that he desired no other portion, either in this world or in that to come, either in heaven or upon earth. - [JONATHAN EDWARDS]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "YOU WILL NEVER REGRET SERVING GOD!"
It is comforting to know, that the LORD will guide us with His counsel. We are told to "trust in the LORD with all thine heart." If we do He will "direct our paths. [Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Pro 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.] You should be encouraged to know that the LORD is going to be with you - everyday, everywhere you go, and lead you straight to His eternal Kingdom and your eternal home.
"Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel - With thy advice; with thy teaching. This implies two things:
(a) his belief that God "would" do this, notwithstanding his folly; and
(b) his purpose that God "should" be his guide now.
He would no longer murmur or complain, but would entrust all to God, and allow himself to be led as God should be pleased to direct him. And afterward receive me to glory - After thou hast led me along the path of the present life in the way in which thou wouldst have me to go, thou wilt then receive me to thyself in heaven - to a world where all shall be clear; where I shall never have any doubts in regard to thy being, to the justice of thy dispensations, or to the principles of thy government." [ALBERT BARNES]
Therefore, you need to give up choosing your own way. God's paths, though difficult at times, are better - far better. You should learn from your mistakes and your sins. Do not repeat the past, particularly in envying those without Christ. Their life may seem good, but the end will be more than horrible. Thus, you shall be received into glory after you have followed Christ and forsaken your thoughts and your own ways, and stop envying the world.
"Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel." I have done with choosing my own way, and trying to pick a path amid the jungle of reason. He yielded not only the point in debate, but all intention of debating, and he puts his hand into that of the great Father, asking to be led, and agreeing to follow. Our former mistakes are a blessing, when they drive us to this. The end of our own wisdom is the beginning of our being wise. With Him is counsel, and when we come to him, we are sure to be led aright. "And afterward." "Afterward!" Blessed word. We can cheerfully put up with the present, when we foresee the future. What is around us just now is of small consequence, compared with afterward. "Receive me to glory." Take me up into thy splendour of joy. Thy guidance shall conduct me to this matchless terminus. Glory shall I have, and thou thyself wilt admit me into it. As Enoch was not, for God took him, so all the saints are taken up - received up into glory." [C.H. SPURGEON]
There are good counselors in the world, yet none but God gives "perfect counsel." The LORD's counsel is flawless, unspoiled by the frailty of the human mind, and complete. It never fails. It never errs. The LORD through His Bible gives a "word" in due season. [Psa_104:27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. /Psa_145:15 The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.] All His paths are right, and they lead to success in this life and splendor in the next. Therefore, never be jealous of others who do not know the LORD. They do not have the security you have, nor the hope. The reward of serving the LORD is unspeakable! You will never regret serving the LORD!
1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1Pe 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 1Pe 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1Pe 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 1Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1Pe 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 1Pe 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel,.... Which is wise and prudent, wholesome, suitable, and seasonable, hearty, sincere, and faithful, and which is freely given, and when taken, infallibly succeeds: or "according to thy counsel" (a); the determinate counsels, purposes, and will of God, which were of old faithfulness and truth; who does all things after the counsel of his own will in providence and grace: or "by thy counsel" (b); by the Scriptures of truth, the revealed word, which contains the will of God, and directions for a holy walk and conversation; by the Gospel and truths of it, called the whole counsel of God, Act_20:27, and by his Holy Spirit, which is a spirit of counsel as well as of might; and by which the Lord guides his people in the ways of peace, truth, righteousness, and holiness, through this world, to the heavenly glory, as follows: and afterward receive me to glory; into a glorious place, an house not made with hands, a city whose builder and maker is God, into a kingdom and glory, or a glorious kingdom; and into glorious company, the company of Father, Son, and Spirit, angels and glorified saints, where glorious things will be seen, and a glory enjoyed both in soul and body to all eternity; for this glory is eternal glory, a glory that passes not away: or "in glory" (c); in a glorious manner: some render it, "after glory thou wilt receive me" (d); that is, after all the glory and honour thou hast bestowed upon me here, thou wilt take me to thyself in heaven; so the Targum, "after the glory is completed, which thou saidst thou wouldst bring upon me, thou wilt receive me:'' but rather the sense is, "after" thou hast led and guided me by thy counsel through the wilderness of this world; "after" all the afflictions and temptations of this present life are over; "after" I have passed through the valley of the shadow of death, or "after" death itself, thou wilt receive me into everlasting joy and happiness; see 1Pe_5:10. [JOHN GILL]