Psalms 73:3-18

3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.[a]
5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity[b] ; their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.[c]
11 They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?”
12 This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.
15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.

Psalms 73:3-18 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO PSALM 73

\\<>\\. 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.

Psalms 73:3-18 In-Context

1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity ; their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?”
12 This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.
15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.

Cross References 20

  • 1. Psalms 37:1; Proverbs 3:31; Proverbs 23:17; Proverbs 24:1-2
  • 2. S Job 9:24; S Job 21:7; Jeremiah 12:1; Malachi 3:15
  • 3. Job 21:9; ver 12; Ezekiel 23:42
  • 4. S Leviticus 26:19
  • 5. S Genesis 41:42; Song of Songs 4:9; Ezekiel 16:11
  • 6. S Genesis 6:11; S Proverbs 4:17; Psalms 109:18
  • 7. S Psalms 17:10
  • 8. Psalms 41:5; Ezekiel 25:15; Colossians 3:8
  • 9. Psalms 17:10; Jude 16
  • 10. S Psalms 10:7; S Psalms 12:5
  • 11. S ver 5
  • 12. S Psalms 49:6
  • 13. S Job 9:29-31; S Job 21:15; Job 34:9
  • 14. S Genesis 44:16; Psalms 26:6
  • 15. ver 5
  • 16. Ecclesiastes 8:17
  • 17. Exodus 15:17; Psalms 15:1; Psalms 77:13
  • 18. S Job 8:13; Philippians 3:19; Psalms 37:38
  • 19. S Deuteronomy 32:35; Psalms 35:6
  • 20. S Psalms 17:13

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. With a different word division of the Hebrew; Masoretic Text "struggles at their death;" / "their bodies are healthy"
  • [b]. Syriac (see also Septuagint); Hebrew "Their eyes bulge with fat"
  • [c]. The meaning of the Hebrew for this verse is uncertain.