Some days, we might wonder, “How can any of us continue this way?” The children, our spouses, the relatives or neighbors, our work schedules, these contentious elections, worries about terrorism here and war overseas; the list is endless. Perhaps your trials have dragged on over weeks, months, or even years. Can anyone bear up under such persistent pressure? Where is there strength to carry on one more day? The song writer, Asaph, penned these words:
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26 English Standard Version (ESV)
John Calvin summarizes the import of the entire song this way:
…Extolls the righteousness and goodness of God.
…Confesses that when he saw:
the wicked abounding in wealth, …scornfully mocking God, and cruelly harassing the righteous…
and the children of God […, who] practice uprightness, …weighed down by troubles and calamities, …were pining away…
while God, …did not interfere to remedy [this injustice.]
[This disparity] almost [caused] him to cast off all…religion and [his] fear of God.
[But, the Psalmist] reproves his own folly in rashly…pronouncing judgment, merely [based on] the present state of things…
…He concludes that, provided we leave the providence of God to take its own course, …in the end, …the righteous are not defrauded of their reward, and that, on the other, the wicked do not escape the hand of the Judge.
It is in this context that Asaph declares his own powerlessness to face what seems unjust: the wicked prosper, the godly suffer, and God doesn’t seem to care. Asaph also acknowledges his dependence on God for any ability to stand under this weight. As Calvin explains:
…There is here a contrast between the failing which [the Psalmist] felt in himself and the strength with which he was divinely supplied; as if he had said,
“Separated from God I am nothing, and all that I attempt to do ends in nothing; but when I come to Him, I find an abundant supply of strength.”
It is…necessary for us to consider what we are without God; …We will seek nothing from God but what we are conscious of [lacking] in ourselves. Indeed, all men confess this, [but the majority] think that all which is necessary is that God should aid our [weaknesses], or [give us assistance] when we have not the means…ourselves. [However, the Psalmist’s] confession…is far [stronger] than this when he lays, so to speak, his own nothingness before God.
He, therefore, …adds, that God is his portion…[denoting] the condition or lot with which every man is contented. …The reason why God is represented as a portion is, because He alone is abundantly sufficient for us, and because in Him the perfection of our happiness consists.
Whence it follows, that we are chargeable with ingratitude, if we turn away our minds from Him and fix them on any other object, as has been stated in Psalm 16:4, where David explains more clearly the import of the metaphor.
None of this means that we will escape from trouble in the here and now. We will go through it, and yet we have hope if we do well.
The Apostle Paul lived in the truth Asaph wrote about. When commending his service for God to the Church, he said:
Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5 (ESV)
We can see that Paul’s witness stands to this day. Since our sufficiency comes from Him, will you give up your own methods? Will I? We must rely on the Lord Jesus Christ’s strength alone in these perilous times.
Michael Roe – I Could Laugh (feat. Chris Taylor) – bd’s house 2014, Lyrics