When the Wicked Prosper

Why do the wicked prosper? It’s a question I think Christians ask, and it can a multitude of feelings as we think about the issue. We see it in the news, at work, and many other areas of life. As the Bible is sufficient for life and godliness, the Bible addresses this question.
Psalm 73 is “A Psalm of Asaph.” Asaph was a Levite and one of the leaders of David’s Choir. The purpose of this Psalm is unknown, but what we do know is evil was all around the author. The first few verses remind the reader that God is the judge. This is important because reading this Psalm would almost give you a sinking feeling that godliness is worthless. The evil that surrounds the psalmist and the evildoers that prosper contrary to the godly person who suffers crushes the hope of the author and can be felt by the reader.
But God, who is judge, will judge these evildoers according to their works. The psalmist grew closer to the Lord and recognized this truth: God was close to him. This Psalm has become one of my personal favorites because of these verses:
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:23-26
This passage has been encouraging to remind myself of the truth which has led me to sing what the truth of this passage speaks.

We Belong to God

As a child of God, you and I belong to God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing can separate us that we may lose our salvation or our position in Christ. We are secure not because of anything we do but because God is for us, and He is with us. The psalmist continues to say, “You hold my right hand.” Notice the pronoun usage. I am not holding on to God’s hand, but He is holding on to my hand.
Young Cindy and her mother spent a good portion of the day shopping at a mall, with Cindy’s attention leaping from one exciting thing to another. All day long, Cindy and her mother held hands and enjoyed being together. Cindy knew she was in good hands, so she never questioned her mother’s leading as they shopped.
When the day of shopping came to an end, the young child and her mother left the mall to walk to the parking lot. Suddenly, Cindy stopped and stared at the sea of cars, cars of every type and color as far as the eye could see. “Mommy, what will we do? How will we ever find our car?”
With swift assurance, the mother lovingly replied, “Cindy, you trusted me to take care of you this far. Don’t you believe I can get you safely home?” Cindy thought for a moment, then said with a peaceful smile, “I don’t understand how, but I believe you, Mommy.”[1]
God, who loves his children, holds onto our hand even when we do not hold onto Him. Asaph, who at this point in his life realized he was bitter toward God, had strayed from His Word, but God never let go of him. He belonged to God.

We are Guided by God

God’s Word guided Asaph when he strayed from truth. God’s Word, as another psalm describes, is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). As the Bible is sufficient for life and godliness, no matter the season of life, God’s Word has truth to speak into it. When we want to hear from God, all we must do is open His Word and listen. We submit our life to it, and as the psalmist says, “Afterward you will receive me to glory.”

God is Enough

The presence of God is better than any trial or injustice in this life. Over a lifetime, the truth Christians must understand is that whether on earth or in heaven, being with God is what we must desire. We desire His presence here on earth, and when we think about what heaven will be like, we are compelled to the remembrance that it will be glorious because God will be there. Asaph desired to be with God (v.25), and in His presence, Asaph found strength for life. He recognizes that his flesh may fail as the evildoers prosper, but God will sustain him. Asaph’s portion, meaning inheritance, was that when Asaph died, he would live eternally with God.
Christian, trust that God is holding onto you. When your mind is thinking about all the injustice and the wicked deeds in this world, enter the presence of God in prayer. God is just and will judge them, but you, a child of God, are protected by Him and have an inheritance because of Jesus. This is the very same Jesus who lived the life you could not live, die the death you deserved, and rose from the dead that we may have life. Let Psalm 73 be a reminder to you that the God who saved you from a debt you cannot pay on your own is with you always.
  [1] Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Practical Illustrations: 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2003), 14.
Do you want to sing the truths of this Psalm? Listen to this song done by Shane & Shane!
Here is a lesson going through a different Psalm, but addressing the same question "Why do the wicked prosper?"