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Asaph, the writer of Psalm 73, is undergoing a huge shift in the way he looks at life. Especially is this the case with the question that is heavy on his heart - "Why do the wicked prosper?"

As we take up his writing at v.17, he explains how he broke through to a new understanding of this vexed issue.

"Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I thought about the destiny of the wicked".

As he surrounded himself with the sanctuary of God (and all that means regarding the presence and truth of God) he was led to consider the destiny - the final, unchanging, irreversible and eternal condition - of the wicked. Thus far, like many of us, Asaph could only see the immediate, short-term, temporary situation of the wicked. But now that he exposed his mind to God's view of things he realised that he had been very short-sighted about the whole drama.

So what if the wicked prosper in the short-term "now"? There is a day coming when all the injustices will be terminated. In fact, in another place Asaph affirmed that very truth. God says,

"At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked. (Psalm 75/2)

It's all in one's perspective which, in turn, is determined by who we believe to be telling the truth. The Apostle Paul understood the difference between the "temporary now" and the "eternal then". He spoke in terms of final destiny. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever. (2 Cor 4:16-18 NLT)

Then, in verses 18-20 of Psalm 73, Asaph describes the destiny of all those who choose the path of wickedness.

"Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, swept away by terrors. Their present life is only a dream that is gone when they awake. When you arise, O Lord, you will make them vanish from this life. (Ps 73:18-20 NLT)

Now that he recognizes the end condition of the wicked, Asaph faces up to his previous perspective when he envied the wicked (v.2). How could he have been so blind? Why would anyone want to envy the wicked? They may not see it coming but their judgment is on its way. So, what does this do to our attitude towards the wicked? When we put the whole picture in place - both the now and the then - can we still envy them? What about our attitude to life? Now that I understand the end result, how does it effect my attitude to God.

More about this new outlook and its impact on Asaph's life next time.

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