YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES –
After David had the Ark of the Covenant brought into Jerusalem with great fanfare and celebration, and placed it under the tent he ordered erected to provide a holy sanctuary where the people could gather and worship God; he appointed a young man named Asaph to lead the music ministry. Asaph continued to serve in the same position under Solomon. But when Solomon’s son Rehoboam took over, Asaph saw a tragic decline in the importance of the temple Solomon built to replace David’s tent, because Rehoboam became unfaithful to the LORD. It broke Asaph’s heart, so he expressed his frustration and feelings as one of those caught up in Rehoboam’s folly, hoping that those who would hear this hymn would see themselves. By this psalm being placed at the beginning of Book III of the Psalter, it sets the tone for what follows.
“Truly, our One True God is gracious to believers with sincere hearts. But I took a wrong turn and almost backslid. I envied these carefree sinners; how contented they seemed to be. They showed no signs of worrying about dying because they were so fit and healthy. They didn’t struggle with the same problems we did; they considered themselves as exceptions to the rule. Their pride drove them to dress like arrogant, assertive snobs. They couldn’t wait to be part of an orgy and enjoyed describing their fantasies. They love to finds ways of intimidating others by speaking to them with condescending rudeness. They have no time for anything spiritual because they are so caught up in carnal pleasures. Unfortunately, some of Your people went along with them until they were squeezed dry of their possessions. Then they turned around and taunted them with insults like, “Didn’t your God know what you were doing? Isn’t your God Most High aware of what’s going on?” This made me so upset and bitter; I was an emotional wreck. I acted like an empty-headed fool toward You; I looked like a stupid animal. Yet I could not give up my faith in You, and You reached out and grabbed my hand. You will never give up guiding me with Your counsel until You complete what You started in me. You’re the only One I have above, and no one compares to You here below. I may fail You in the flesh, but You are the joy of my heart, and all I’ll ever want. Those who stray from You will be lost. But as for me, I want only to stay near You. And I tell everyone proudly: You are the one who saved me!” Psalm 73:1-11, 21-28
Reflection: In the 1835 a young American lawyer suffered such deep depression that his friends did everything possible to keep razors and knives away from him. He once wrote, “I am now the most miserable man living. Whether I shall be better, I cannot tell. I awfully forebode I shall not.” Also, one of the greatest preachers of the 19th century experienced periods of severe depression. Times came when he felt so depressed he refused to leave the parsonage and go to church. On more than one occasion his deacons came and physically carried him to the pulpit. Add to this a great British statesman during WWII saying, “Depression followed me around like a black dog all my life.” Nevertheless, that young lawyer became the 16th President of the United States; his name—Abraham Lincoln. That great preacher became an icon of evangelistic preaching and his books are still read today; his name—Charles H. Spurgeon. And that British politician is still acclaimed as the one man who helped England weather the onslaught of Nazi Germany’s bombardments and lead them to victory; his name—Winston Churchill. Asaph went through similar valleys of despair as he went from experiencing the elation and joy of seeing the Ark of the Covenant come to rest on Mt. Zion, and observe the transformation it brought; the lives that it changed; and the praise and honor it bestowed on the God of Israel. But depression set in as he watched, heartbroken and in horror as people began to stray and return to their old habits. To make matters worse, they prospered while the faithful struggled to make ends meet. But in the end God helped him understand that although a person may possess little else in this world other than faith, they had everything they needed to bring them through. It still works today, but only if we choose to believe it, accept it, and act on it.