Have you ever written a letter of complaint? We received less than stellar service, or the product we received just did not live up to our expectations - so we resorted to the "complaint" process. David began this psalm as a letter of complaint - almost as a letter to a complaint department of some big business. His observation: Things just weren't working out as well as he'd hoped - either for himself or the evil people around him.
Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (Psalm 73:25-26 NLT)
His complaints were many - kind of like ours at times....
- The proud prospered despite their wickedness. They actually were doing well when David suspected they did not deserve to be. It certainly gets our goat, doesn't it, when the wicked seem to avoid the consequences of their actions?
- The wicked seemed to live painless lives. In his eyes, he rarely saw them dealing with disease. Their bodies were healthy and strong - yet God's people were facing things they'd rather have avoided. In truth, we complain when we see God's kids hurting, don't we?
- They escaped the troubles and problems of the others David observed. To him, they kind of walked above the muddle of the other problems faced by either his people or himself. Why is it some seem to live as they want, always escaping the mess they leave behind?
- To David, they flaunted their sin, almost like wearing it like a jeweled necklace or fancy clothing. They displayed their cruelty and pride as though it was a thing of grandeur. Now, honestly, doesn't this just drive us nuts?
- They had all they wished for. Theirs was a life of seeming ease. No amount of effort ever seemed to be required on their parts - they just succeeded at all they touched, while others seemed to work hard and realize no reward for their toil.
- Their focus is on the advancement of self over others. They seem not to care who they might step on or walk over in the process. There is no sense of the other's position or feelings in their dealings - and this irks David.
- The pride of the wicked boasts loudly of all they have done - claiming their fame is not without notice by those who seem to lack any renown at all.
The response of God's people is considered next because one cannot see this repeatedly and not have some type of issue with it. Their response is pretty much the same as ours - "Hey! What's up with this?" They want answers - to understand why there are such inequities between the wicked and those seeking to live upright lives. It is not uncommon to question the outcome of the wicked.
David's response is to eventually turn to God with the tough questions. We see him going into the sanctuary of God. No better place to sort out our complaints, or ponder our fate, than in the presence of God. There we find David proclaiming: "I finally understood the destiny of the wicked..." See, in God's presence, we get perspective. Things we just don't get are made clear. This brings me to the point of our complaint. God is never put off by our complaints - he just wants to give us the correct perspective.
To lay things out before God is never a bad thing. In fact, God would rather we be honest about our struggle than to hold back or secretly envy the wicked. When we do, we allow bitterness to enter - feeling as though God is withholding something good from us. David admitted as much - he allowed his heart to become bitter and he looked on the wicked as "privileged" in some way. In the presence of God, all such bitterness and envy must melt away.
David's revealing words say it well. "Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside." This is the path bitterness takes - a destructive path which leaves us all torn up inside. God's response to David's honesty - he held his hand and brought him through by his counsel. God's goal is not to chastise us for our bitterness and our complaints, but to guide us through to see things as he knows them to really be. We can do no better than to come to the one who can set us straight in our perceptions and our opinions!