PSALM 73—SUFFERINGS OF THE SEEKING SAINTS
As we turn to Psalm 73, we must recall again Psalm 1. I know that by now you are very well acquainted with our case concerning Psalm 1, but allow me to expose it again in the light of Psalm 73. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.” And verse 3: “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season…and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” According to Psalm 1, it is not the wicked and the ungodly who will prosper, but the godly saints, those who keep the law. Now turn to Psalm 73, verse 3: “For I was envious at the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Psalm 1 says that the godly will prosper and the wicked will perish. But Psalm 73 tells us that the Psalmist saw the prosperity of the wicked. In verse 12 he says, “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” Therefore, Psalm 73 proves conclusively that there is a problem with Psalm 1. He says, “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency” (v. 13). In other words, he is saying, “I have kept the law all the time; I have cleansed my heart in vain and washed my hands in vain, because I did not prosper.” Verse 14 reveals the experience of this godly saint: “For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.” What can we say? Here is a godly saint who is plagued all the day and chastened every morning. We must be exceedingly clear now concerning the position of Psalm 1.
Then he continues by saying, “If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I had dealt treacherously with the generation of thy children” (v. 15). The Psalmist was really perplexed when he considered the situation from the standpoint of material blessing and profit, good and evil; he had a real problem. If he would utter publicly, “I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency,” he would not be faithful to God’s children. What should he do, and what should he say? The Psalmist replies, “When I thought how I might know this, it was a painful labor in mine eyes” (v. 16). The whole dilemma was entirely too difficult for him. How could you reconcile Psalm 1 and Psalm 73? According to the traditional teachings of Christianity today, there is absolutely no way to reconcile these two Psalms. This is a strong case set forth to expose the present pitiful situation of Christianity’s teachings.
There is only one way to reconcile Psalms 1 and 73, and it is presented to us in Psalm 73:17, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end.” The sanctuary of God is the place where we may obtain the revelation we need. The sanctuary here undoubtedly signifies the dwelling place of God. Our spirit today is God’s dwelling place. And, even more, the local churches are God’s dwelling place. Hence, we must turn to our spirit, and we must turn to the local church; then we will be clear. Our spirit and the local church are the places where we receive divine revelation, where we obtain the explanation to all our problems. When “I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I.…”
What did he understand? Verse 25: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” He realized that God was working to deprive him of all material things that he might enjoy God in such an absolute way. This is the revelation. Why do the wicked prosper and their riches continually increase? It is because God has given them up; He simply lets them go on their own way. They have nothing whatever to do with the enjoyment of God. But God’s intention with the seeking saints is to remove all material blessings and all physical enjoyments that they may find everything in God. Nothing in heaven nor on earth can be their enjoyment but God Himself. It was by the Psalmist’s experience, as recorded in the first part of Psalm 73, that he could eventually assert, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” He received revelation. He learned why God would not allow the seeking saints to prosper as the worldlings do. God intends that nothing should distract us from the absolute enjoyment of Himself. Eventually, it is not a matter of merely keeping the law, but of seeking God absolutely. It is not a matter of doing good or evil, right or wrong—if you are concerned about that, you are still occupied with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is a matter of seeking God, obtaining God, possessing God. It is a matter of experiencing God to the extent that you also can say, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” In other words, “I do not care for anything but the tree of life; I do not care for anything other than God Himself.” This is Psalm 73. When the Psalmist went into the sanctuary of God, he received this revelation and took God Himself as his all. How may we too have the experience of the Psalmist in these verses? We must be in the spirit and in the local church, the sanctuary of God. Just by this one Psalm we may see the difference between Book III and Book I. There is a great improvement. It is not a matter of keeping the law or of being right or wrong, but of having God and of keeping God as everything.
Let us look briefly at Psalm 24 in the light of Psalm 73. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s,” and verse 3 asks, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” Verse 4 answers: “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” Some may think that this verse refers to those who keep the law. But if we read Psalm 73, we have these very matters mentioned: “I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency” (v. 13). Vanity is anything beside God. Idols are vanity; worldly prosperity is vanity; anything but God is vanity. A pure heart is one that is set on nothing but God. Only one who has a pure heart can say, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” If you are still seeking anything other than God, your heart is set upon vanity. God Himself is the reality. Do not imagine that Psalm 24:4 signifies the keeping of the law. Not at all. It refers to one whose heart is set upon nothing but God. The one in Psalm 24:4 is the one in Psalm 73. This is the one who has washed his hands and cleansed his heart. He has a pure heart. Psalm 73:1 says, “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a pure heart.” Psalm 24:4 refers not to the law-keepers, but to the God-seekers. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” The God-seekers!
The way to see all these things is to enter into the sanctuary of God. So many of us can testify that before we came into the local churches, we were ignorant of many things. It was not until we came into the sanctuary of God that we understood.
(Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)