Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. Psalm 73:25-28
Please read all of Psalm 73. This confession of Asaph, the worship leader of the people of Israel under King David (see 1 Chronicles 16:1-37 and 25:6-7), is a valuable bit of insight that, at some point in life, will likely be very relevant to any believer. He begins, “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.” (v.1-2) Sound familiar? Have you ever nearly (or actually) lost your foothold? Even if the issue you were slipping on was different than Asaph’s, you can feel empathy with the condition. I’m here to tell you, even before I talk about the problem Asaph had, that the solution he found is universally applicable. Even if you never fall into his particular pit, the remedy works for all of the pits.
That said, let’s consider his pit, because it’s a big, yawning one that many fall into. “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (v.3) Asaph became jealous of the godless. He described their freedom to do whatever they felt like. He claimed that they lived lives of ease and easy wealth. He began to resent the life of discipline and purity to which he was called. His lot began to feel like a burden and he became bitter. His climax to this pity party was “All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.” (v.14) Not a good headspace for anyone, let alone the worship leader of Israel. He acknowledged how unacceptable this attitude was by stating, “If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ I would have betrayed your children.” (v.15) Jesus said that men are defiled by what comes out of their mouths and verbalizing his wretched thoughts would have defiled Asaph and been harmful to those under his leadership. There is no room for such unfaithful thoughts for believers, but even worse is the venting of them to others. We have a responsibility to build up the Body. Asaph realized that his thoughts had the potential to tear down the faith of his people.
“Surely God is good to Israel.” As Asaph continues in his testimony, things were becoming oppressive “till I entered the sanctuary of God.” (v.17a) Everything changed with the revelation of God and His goodness. Asaph was brought to a right perspective and he realized with clarity the temporal nature of this life in comparison with eternity. Suddenly, everything looked different. He saw the looming disaster in store for the wicked. He saw the goodness of God. He saw his true desire. And he saw the great mercy shown to him.
Asaph found the solution to his wretched condition in the place of worship. His theme song was “He is good; his love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 5:13b) and, when he gave himself to that truth, he saw how true it was. Think about how good God was to Asaph. After rescuing him and drawing him back to Himself, He prospered the ministry of worship in Israel under David, and then under Solomon, so much so that on the day that the Ark of the Covenant is brought into the newly constructed temple, Asaph and the other Levitical priests who led worship were pressed to the ground by the glory of the Lord that filled the temple. I don’t know about you, but that has always stood as one of the gold-standard days of worship in history. And Asaph was there as the one who had decided, “But as for me, it is good to be near God.”
Enter the sanctuary. Worship His goodness. Seek right perspective in His Presence. There is nothing else worthy to desire besides Him.