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Re-connecting with my last post, I recognized that when people acknowledge the tension between the wicked prospering and the righteous suffering, there are some predictable responses.

In Psalm 73 and verse 10, Asaph says

"And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words".

This ethical and moral dilemma of evil people and their conduct being seemingly rewarded produces confusion and dismay.

It produces confusion because everything within us - we who are made in the image of a good God - passionately believes that good must triumph. But our present experience seems to put the lie to that conviction. Confusion is our head response. "The wicked prosper. The righteous suffer. I'm sorry but that just does not compute". Result = confusion.

It produces dismay. This is our heart response. If we, like the people of Asaph's day, drink in all the words of the wicked (v.10), that increases the influence of the wicked to shape our belief system. Dismay links up with its cousins, despair and discouragement and together they begin questioning the foundations of our faith.

"Does God realize what is going on?" they ask. "Is the Most High even aware of what is happening?" Look at these arrogant people enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply". (Vs.11,12).

In this case, questioning God is not an act of rebellion. It is an expression of confusion and dismay. But then Asaph testifies to his own personal struggle in seeking some understanding of this whole moral and ethical issue. He now expands on what he has already expressed back in vs.2,3. In the name of honesty and integrity he cannot disconnect himself from this whole drama and simply be a dispassionate observer. Now he moves from reporting what others say and feel to what he himself experiences.

"Was it for nothing that I kept my heart pure and kept myself from doing wrong? All I get is trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain. (Ps 73:13-14 NLT)

These are genuine questions. Yet even though Asaph wrestled with these, he felt guilty at the prospect of owning them publicly. If I had really spoken this way, I would have been a traitor to your people. (v.15) Finally he gives himself to what is possibly life's greatest enigma.

So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! (v.16) What a difficult task, indeed!!

However, it is at this point in the psalm that a breakthrough comes for Asaph. The darkness of confusion and dismay is penetrated by a light that transforms his perspective. Did this light resolve the issue for him completely? Does it finally and fully resolve it for me?

I want to outline this in my next post.

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