Summary: This message follows Aspah's journey from envying the godless to embracing God.

Chico Alliance Church

Psalm 73

“Why Even Try Being Good?”


Nearly everyone struggles with the application of God’s goodness at some time in their life. We observe the chaos and injustice in our world and either scratch our heads or kick the cat. A drunk driver who lives to be a hundred cuts a promising young teenager’s life short. Those who deny God win the 100-million-dollar lottery. Good things happen to bad people while bad things happen to good people. Life’s inconsistencies slap us in the face nearly every day. Those who completely deny God and His beloved Son Jesus seem to prosper through dishonesty, abuse, and intimidation. Followers of Jesus tell the truth and follow the rules yet suffer oppression and disdain.

People echo the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” for a reason. The application of Biblical justice seems a rare reality in our current culture. Radio and TV preachers boldly broadcast the physical and financial benefits of following Jesus. They indicate that if you just follow God’s rules you will be guaranteed success in every area of life; i.e. good health, successful marriage, smart and successful children, plenty of money and creature comforts, lots of friends, freedom from suffering, and pain. Come to Jesus and He will save you from your awful circumstances. You just need to believe it and claim it. See it, believe it, receive it. And of course, demonstrate your faith by sending us a check or excuse me, a “love gift.”

Such teaching is unsustainable. Life exposes an entirely different reality. Everyone wrestles with awful events all through their lives. Unwelcome, unexplainable, random awful incidents afflict the just and the unjust. We search for some sort of reason for such events. We struggle to make sense of God’s application of justice. We affirm God’s continual goodness but slam into example after example of contrary evidence.

Previously we explored numerous Biblical characters who were able to recognize the AWE-full amid the awful realities of life in a broken and twisted world. This message explores the testimony of another Biblical figure.

King David appointed Asaph to lead the temple worship choir. The ancient worship leader Asaph discovered the unbiblical and essentially unsustainable nature of promising Eden now. The sons of Asaph led worship music in Jerusalem over many generations. To the best of our knowledge, Asaph personally composed Psalm 50, 73-83.

It seems Asaph composed Psalm 78 after a time in his life when he struggled to reconcile the concept of a good God with the reality of what he encountered in the world around him and even in his own life. I suppose in today’s musical world we might call this a ballad. It represents the composer’s emotional journey through a dark time in their life. Having emerged the other side of his dark journey, it seems Asaph was able to recognize the AWE-full amid the awful. The Holy Spirit inspired Asaph to poetically communicate his conclusion (his AWE-full perception change) at the very beginning of his composition and then clarify how he arrived there.

Asaph first declared his theme, then described his struggle and finally disclosed his renewed perspective.

I observe three main sections to this Psalm

Asaph declared his theme 1

Asaph detailed his inner struggle with God’s goodness 2-17

Asaph described his new perspective 18-23

I. Asaph declared his theme -- God is good!

Asaph used the B.L.U.F. principle -- Bottom Line Up Front

Surely God is good to Israel

Surely God is good to those who are pure in heart

God communicated Himself using Hebrew Poetry all through the Old Testament. This poetry expands understand by repeating thoughts often in different words. Look for two-line phrases. The parallel lines communicate one proclamation -- God is “good.” The first line proclaims God’s goodness to Israel. The second line expands the proclamation by applying it to all the pure in heart. Since God’s goodness is the theme of this song, it would be good to explore the concept of goodness a bit.

The term “good” applies to at least five general aspects.

Essential goodness relates to the make-up of a thing, its ability to perform.

Good program, good car, good job, good performance, good effort

Esthetic goodness relates to the beauty or desirability of something.

Good wife, good vacation, good painting, good sunset.

Ethical goodness relates to someone’s character and moral values.

Good man or woman, good kids, good politician (oxymoron?).

Economic goodness relates to value, or quality.

Good fortune, good diamond, good salary.

Relational goodness relates to one’s pleasing relationship to others.

Out of the goodness of their heart, good friend, good dog, good marriage

God’s goodness includes every sense of the word Good.

• He is flawless (Essential Goodness)

• He is beautiful (Esthetic Goodness)

• He is holy and righteous (Ethical Goodness)

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