Thursday, June 23, 2022

Overcoming Envy (Psalm 73)

"For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked" (Psalm 73:3).

In Psalm 73, the writer reveals by his own testimony that unless we are upheld by the hand of God, we are in danger of falling prey to temptation. Here we witness the intense struggle of the psalmist as he fights against the temptations of Satan, who dangles the delicacies of the world before his eyes. Calvin believes the author to be David, who penned this psalm as a testimony to God’s grace in preserving His people from their own folly.

The temptation that almost caused David to slip was envy—a sin that causes men to become dissatisfied with God and turn to the world for fulfillment. Envy fills the imagination with a distorted view of unbelievers, causing one to think they are better off than those who devote themselves to God. The mind becomes dulled in its understanding of the truth—the truth that even though the wicked may prosper in worldly affairs, their fate is one of destruction, their happiness is transient and deceptive. David soon discovers his folly. He realizes that he had grown cold, that he had fallen prey to Satan’s schemes in causing him to draw near to the world instead of to God. He had lost sight of God’s providence, that He is executing His will in the world and that He will bring justice to the wicked and rewards to His people in His own time.

In His providence, God governs the whole world, but He takes special care to maintain His church. By His hand, He upholds His children and protects them, keeping their souls clear of the fiery darts of Satan. While the world may prosper in earthly riches, these will not last or bring true happiness. But those who draw near to God taste the riches and joy of His salvation.

Psalm 73 reminds each of us that we are only saved from the snare of envy by the grace of God. “From this we see how precious our salvation is in the sight of God,” Calvin wrote, “for when we wander far from Him, He yet continues to look upon us with a watchful eye, and to stretch forth His hand to bring us to Himself.” God is all-sufficient; nothing in the world can replace or supplement what God has given us in Himself. Let us remember that we are completely dependent on His grace and that His grace is sufficient for our every need.

Read Hebrews 10:19–25 and James 4:7–10. By what means can you draw near to God? How are you to draw near to Him? What is meant by “Come near to God and He will come near to you”? Why is it necessary for you to approach Him in humility? Spend some time drawing near to God today.