Tehillim 73

1 3 (Mizmor of Asaph). Truly Elohim is tov to Yisroel, even to the barei levav (pure of heart).
2 But as for me, my raglayim had almost stumbled; my steps had well near slipped.
3 For I had kina (envy) of the holelim (arrogant ones), when I saw the shalom of the resha’im.
4 For there are no chartzubot (fetters, bonds, pains) in their mot; healthy is their belly.
5 They are not in amal (trouble) as enosh; neither are they plagued like adam.
6 Therefore ga’avah encircleth them like a chain necklace; chamas enwraps them like a garment.
7 Their eyes bulge with chelev; they have more than levav could imagine.
8 They mock, and speak wickedly concerning oshek (oppression); they speak from marom (on high).
9 They set their mouth against Shomayim, and their leshon stalketh in ha’aretz.
10 Therefore their people return here; and mayim to the full are swallowed down by them.
11 And they say, How doth El (G-d) know? And is there knowledge in Elyon?
12 Hinei, these are the resha’im; at ease olam, they increase in riches.
13 Surely in vain have I cleansed my lev, and washed my hands in innocency.
14 For kol hayom have I been plagued, and chastened in the bekarim (mornings).
15 If I say, I will speak thus; hinei, I would have dealt faithlessly with the dor banecha (the generation of Thy children).
16 When I thought to comprehend this, it was amal (difficulty) in my eyes;
17 Until I went into the Mikdeshei El; then I had binah (understanding) of their (the wicked’s) destiny.
18 Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places; Thou castedst them down into mashu’ot (ruins, destruction).
19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a rega (moment)! They are utterly consumed with balahot (terrors).
20 As a chalom when one awaketh; so, Adonoi, when Thou art aroused [in judgment], Thou shalt despise their tzelem (shadowy form).
21 Thus my levav was grieved, and I was pricked in my mind.
22 So senseless was I, and ignorant; I was like behemot before Thee.
23 Nevertheless I am with Thee tamid (always); Thou hast taken hold of me by my yamin.
24 Thou shalt guide me with Thy etzah (counsel), and afterward take me to kavod (glory).
25 Whom have I in Shomayim but Thee? And there is none upon HaAretz that I desire beside Thee.
26 My flesh and my levav may fail; but Elohim is the Tzur of my levav, and my chelek l’olam.
27 For, hinei, they that are far from Thee shall perish; Thou hast destroyed all them that go zoneh (a-whoring) from Thee.
28 But kiravat Elohim (drawing near to Elohim) is tov for me; I make in Adonoi Hashem my refuge, that I may declare all Thy deeds.

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Tehillim 73 Commentary

Chapter 73

The psalmist's temptation. (1-14) How he gained a victory over it. (15-20) How he profited by it. (21-28)

Verses 1-14 The psalmist was strongly tempted to envy the prosperity of the wicked; a common temptation, which has tried the graces of many saints. But he lays down the great principle by which he resolved to abide. It is the goodness of God. This is a truth which cannot be shaken. Good thoughts of God will fortify against Satan's temptations. The faith even of strong believers may be sorely shaken, and ready to fail. There are storms that will try the firmest anchors. Foolish and wicked people have sometimes a great share of outward prosperity. They seem to have the least share of the troubles of this life; and they seem to have the greatest share of its comforts. They live without the fear of God, yet they prosper, and get on in the world. Wicked men often spend their lives without much sickness, and end them without great pain; while many godly persons scarcely know what health is, and die with great sufferings. Often the wicked are not frightened, either by the remembrance of their sins, or the prospect of their misery, but they die without terror. We cannot judge men's state beyond death, by what passes at their death. He looked abroad, and saw many of God's people greatly at a loss. Because the wicked are so very daring, therefore his people return hither; they know not what to say to it, and the rather, because they drink deep of the bitter cup of affliction. He spoke feelingly when he spoke of his own troubles; there is no disputing against sense, except by faith. From all this arose a strong temptation to cast off religion. But let us learn that the true course of sanctification consists in cleansing a man from all pollution both of soul and body. The heart is cleansed by the blood of Christ laid hold upon by faith; and by the begun works of the Lord's Spirit, manifested in the hearty resolution, purpose, and study of holiness, and a blameless course of life and actions, the hands are cleansed. It is not in vain to serve God and keep his ordinances.

Verses 15-20 The psalmist having shown the progress of his temptation, shows how faith and grace prevailed. He kept up respect for God's people, and with that he restrained himself from speaking what he had thought amiss. It is a sign that we repent of the evil thoughts of the heart, if we suppress them. Nothing gives more offence to God's children, than to say it is vain to serve God; for there is nothing more contrary to their universal experience. He prayed to God to make this matter plain to him; and he understood the wretched end of wicked people; even in the height of their prosperity they were but ripening for ruin. The sanctuary must be the resort of a tempted soul. The righteous man's afflictions end in peace, therefore he is happy; the wicked man's enjoyments end in destruction, therefore he is miserable. The prosperity of the wicked is short and uncertain, slippery places. See what their prosperity is; it is but a vain show, it is only a corrupt imagination, not substance, but a mere shadow; it is as a dream, which may please us a little while we are slumbering, yet even then it disturbs our repose.

Verses 21-28 God would not suffer his people to be tempted, if his grace were not sufficient, not only to save them from harm, but to make them gainers by it. This temptation, the working of envy and discontent, is very painful. In reflecting upon it, the psalmist owns it was his folly and ignorance thus to vex himself. If good men, at any time, through the surprise and strength of temptation, think, or speak, or act amiss, they will reflect upon it with sorrow and shame. We must ascribe our safety in temptation, and our victory, not to our own wisdom, but to the gracious presence of God with us, and Christ's intercession for us. All who commit themselves to God, shall be guided with the counsel both of his word and of his Spirit, the best counsellors here, and shall be received to his glory in another world; the believing hopes and prospects of which will reconcile us to all dark providences. And the psalmist was hereby quickened to cleave the closer to God. Heaven itself could not make us happy without the presence and love of our God. The world and all its glory vanishes. The body will fail by sickness, age, and death; when the flesh fails, the conduct, courage, and comfort fail. But Christ Jesus, our Lord, offers to be all in all to every poor sinner, who renounces all other portions and confidences. By sin we are all far from God. And a profession Christ, if we go on in sin, will increase our condemnation. May we draw near, and keep near, to our God, by faith and prayer, and find it good to do so. Those that with an upright heart put their trust in God, shall never want matter for thanksgiving to him. Blessed Lord, who hast so graciously promised to become our portion in the next world, prevent us from choosing any other in this.

Chapter Summary


\\<>\\. It seems by the title that Asaph was the penman of this psalm, as it is certain that he was a composer of psalms and hymns; see 2Ch 29:30, though it may be rendered, "a psalm for Asaph", or "unto Asaph" {a}; and might have David for its author, as some think, who, having penned it, sent it to Asaph, to be made use of by him in public service; see 1Ch 16:7, and so the Targum paraphrases it, ``a song by the hands of Asaph;'' the occasion of it was a temptation the psalmist fell into, through the prosperity of the wicked, and the afflictions of the righteous, to think there was nothing in religion, that it was a vain and useless thing; under which he continued until he went into the house of God, and was taught better; when he acknowledged his stupidity and folly, and penned this psalm, to prevent others falling into the same snare, and to set forth the goodness of God to his people, with which it begins.

Tehillim 73 Commentaries

The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002,2003,2008,2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International. All rights reserved.