“Until I went to the sanctuary of God …”
This phrase shows up smack in the middle of Psalm 73, a piece of poetry attributed to Asaph. The words he strung together are something of a confession. He admits that envy nearly got the best of him. He explains the rot he felt within.
Asaph saw others living the high life. The wicked and the worldly were people of means and seemed to have few problems. These thoughts overwhelmed him. He stumbled and lost his footing. He nearly fell into a pit of despair.
The wicked have it all. They say what they want. They scoff at God and at those who follow Him. “They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongues walk through the earth” (see verse 9).They are fat and rich and loud and pushy. They lick up everyone and everything.
These were just some of the thoughts that ran through Asaph’s mind. He had a measure of wisdom that kept him from putting on paper some things that would “offend” or stifle the generation to come after him. He gave pause to the details that could harm the children.
Asaph even relates the questions he had about his faith. What good are clean hearts and clean hands? What good does it do to do good? What purpose was behind the plagues and the chastening he experienced every day?
We read his story and recognize the bitter seeds that lay upon the soil of our own hearts. Asaph’s pain was real. He had these thoughts. But he refused to let them take root. He did not become entangled in the weeds; his life did not become overgrown with the stuff that scratches, pricks, stings, and poisons.
Set Free by Truth
“I went to the sanctuary of God; then I understood. …”
We can say this: Asaph found healing in the house of the Lord. Church helped him. It was where he got the answers for what bothered him. Words from God were spoken there. He began to know the truth, and the truth set him free (see John 8:32). Understanding came as he listened.Our pulpits and chapels must be Word-filled and focused on the Finished Work message of Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet
Psalm 73 makes an important point about church life. It must be dedicated to truth discovery and Gospel proclamation. Our pulpits and chapels must be Word-filled and focused on the Finished Work message of Jesus Christ. Friendship and fellowship and connection are valuable for sure. The prayers of the saints do so much. The sharing of grief and pain and resources are important as well. Hospitality, help, and hope certainly should mark the local assembly.
Still, this fact remains: “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (see Romans 10:17). Apostolic doctrine carries vitality and nourishes our lives as saints of the Lord. We need to be told the truth in the power of the Spirit.
Asaph, the writer of Psalm 73, knew this.
Like us, he saw oppressive leaders. He knew of criminals who seemingly got away with scams, robberies, assaults, and murders. He watched, as we do, the rich get richer. His heart cried, “Why, Lord? How long, O God? Where are You, Father?”
He went with all these burdens and laid them up before the Lord – in the sanctuary. He joined with others. He listened and learned. He sang hymns and spiritual songs with the poor, the lame, the weak, the weary, the wounded.
It’s become somewhat fashionable to diminish the role of church life. There are so many ways to hear words about God today. But it is in the local assembly where we really hear God. Every member in particular needs the flow of life that comes through the Body of Christ.
The sanctuary saved Asaph. There, he came to know the “end’ of the wicked. He describes how this affected him. He confessed to foolishness and ignorance; his human nature got the better of him and made him “like a beast.” He thought of running with the pack. He imagined life in the stampede as part of the herd.
In the assembly, Asaph learned the truth about the rat race that is the world system.
Do we really understand what worldliness is and where it’s going? Are our churches sounding the alarm about its dangers? Do we understand just how it will go?
Like Asaph, the Apostle John got a vision of the end of the wicked. In his Revelation, we read of the details of terrors and tragedies and disasters that come upon an earth given over to the wrath accumulated through rebellion against the Creator. It reveals the righteousness of God and His ultimate justice.
Beyond these things, John witnessed more. He got a taste of something wonderful, of something almost too marvelous for words. He saw visions of the true and eternal sanctuary to come for us who believe. Then and there, the presence of the Lord shall fill every corner of His City. The Lamb who was slain will reign. The glory of God shall reach everywhere and envelop everyone.
These thoughts are the ones we must speak often to one another. May we be guided in His counsel as we await the glory to come. His right hand holds us; He speaks for us. He is our portion forever.
The conclusion Asaph leaves us with is one worth holding dear: “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” (Psalm 73:28).
Come close to God. Forsake not the assembly. Embrace the Body of Christ in its local expression. Enter His courts with praise. See the beauty of His Holiness in the majesty of His Bride.
Cherish the Church.