I Was Envious Of The Wicked
“Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart! But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; my steps almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant, as I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death; and their body is fat. They are not in trouble as other men; nor are they plagued like mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; the garment of violence covers them. Their eye bulges from fatness; the imaginations of their heart run riot. They mock, and wickedly speak of oppression; they speak from on high. They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth” (Psalm 73:1-9).
In spite of the writer’s current crisis of faith, he begins the psalm with an affirmation of what should be common to all believers: that God is good to them. This premise is what permeates his thinking throughout the rest of the composition. It is a promise for the pure in heart. “Surely” means that, in spite of the struggle, he is not willing to surrender this truth. If there is a misunderstanding it is on his part, not God’s. That his feet came close to stumbling is an indication of just how trying this ordeal has been.
One thing that we need to remember is that if we judge a sinner’s life on only the parts that we can see, we would all feel the same way as Asaph, David, or any other good person who has had these same doubts. The sinner always seems at ease, content, full, and enjoying pleasures because we are not in their shoes every day, or in private. We forget that a sinner is faced with debt, drug dealers, failed marriages, diseases, tax problems, and depression. We never see the ugly side of a person’s life as long as we are fixated on their possessions, their status, or their physical gifts.
Consider: Is there really “no pain in their deaths”? What about death from overdose, sexually transmitted disease, car accident, etc.? Are their bodies “always fat”? Not for the person whose body is being destroyed by illicit substances! Are “they not in trouble as other men”? With wealth comes scrutiny from the IRS, to be sure. But what about troubles from drug addiction, divorce proceedings, spoiled children, etc.?
“The imaginations of their heart run riot” is not a good condition, actually. Sometimes we ponder what it would be like to have no limits, but is there really any satisfaction in a life that must be perpetually stoked, “one-upped”, and entertained?