Wednesday: Psalms 73-74 & Luke 18.18-30

From Caroline Dixon

Psalm 73: The Psalmist admits, “I was envious of the arrogant,” who are powerful and well-fed.  The Psalmist goes into great detail in describing the ones whom he envied.  To the Psalmist, it seemed like these privileged ones “have no pangs until death” – that their lives are easy and without trouble.  The wicked are “always at ease,” even as they display unrighteous traits.  “Pride is their necklace,” “violence covers them as a garment,” and they “speak with malice.”  The Psalmist recognized these traits as sinful, and yet he remained jealous.  To him, it seemed that “all in vain have I kept my heart clean”; there was no reward for his innocence, except for rebuke.  The Psalmist saw the wicked prosper, and knew that he should not be envious, but could not escape his true feelings of envy.  “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task” – what true words!  I often find myself knowing that my mind is not in line with God’s mind, but thinking that it is a wearisome task to reconcile my thoughts to his thoughts.  It seems full of effort and likely impossible.  What is the Psalmist’s solution?  How was he liberated from his oppressive jealousy?  “I went into the sanctuary of God; there I discerned their end.”  The Psalmist comes to God.  In God’s house, he can finally see clearly.  He realizes that “when my soul was embittered… I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.”  We can seek to have God’s mind or an earthly, animal mind.  We can trust only what we see, or we can allow God to show us his view of the world.  I want to follow the Psalmist in drawing near to God to gain a more holy perspective; “for me it is good to be near God.” 

Psalm 74: This Psalmist is crying out to God for defense against an enemy’s armed forces.  He appeals to God by reporting that the enemy has burned down the holy sanctuaries and meeting places of God.  He asks, “How long?”  He imagines that God’s mighty right hand is, essentially, in God’s pocket… and asks God to please take his hand out of his pocket and help his people. The turn in verse 12 (“yet”) shifts the Psalm from desperation to comforting words.  The Psalmist reminds himself that God has taken care of his people before, and that there is still the secure covenant between God and his people. 

Luke 18.18-30: Although the rich young ruler believes that he has kept all of the commandments from birth, Jesus revels to him that he has not kept the very first commandment – to love God exclusively.  The rich young ruler loves his money more than God.  He should have been elated at Jesus’s invitation to “come, follow me.”  But, the ruler gets hung up on the stipulation that he first depart with his earthly wealth.  Jesus knows that the ruler considers his wealth more “good” than the “Good Teacher,” and bristles at his empty praise.  The crowd seems to side with the ruler – that it is too much to ask to abandon earthly riches. “Then who can be saved?” they ask, incredulously.  Jesus replies by assuring them that the impossible becomes possible with God.  May we be comforted that when it seems impossible to let go of our own idols (in wealth or whatever else), that it is possible with God.