Asaph struggled with envy. He had a hard time making sense of the fact that righteous people could barely make ends meet while evil people enjoyed opulent, sumptuous lifestyles.
Asaph struggled with envy. He had a hard time making sense of the fact that righteous people could barely make ends meet while evil people enjoyed opulent, sumptuous lifestyles. This apparent injustice bothered him so much that his faith almost failed him. This crisis of belief might have gone unnoticed—who hasn’t struggled with doubt?—were it not for the fact he was the leader of worship in Israel, responsible for arranging and conducting services for God’s covenant people. But rather than hide his doubts, Asaph wrote a lengthy song, detailing the questions he pondered and retracing his halting steps through a maze of theological confusion.
At one point in Psalm 73, he stated flatly, “As for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant” (vv. 2–3). He goes on to detail the reasons for his envy. In short, the arrogant grew richer as the godly grew poorer. And, to make matters worse, the ungodly abused the godly and became scorners of God. As if Asaph’s own poverty wasn’t unsettling enough, it appeared to him that God had rewarded the wrong people for their wrong behavior. At the time, sin and rebellion seemed the more attractive way of life!
Asaph’s crisis of faith found resolution, however, when he turned his eyes away from material wealth to worship God.
It was troublesome in my sight
Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end. (Psalm 73:16–17)
Refocusing his attention on God rather than his circumstances, Asaph overcame his envy. Worshiping the Lord reoriented his perspective in three specific ways:
First, Asaph rearranged his priorities: wisdom is more important than wealth.
Second, he regained an eternal perspective: the true rewards of faithfulness come later.
Third, he reassessed his values: intimacy with God is the greatest treasure of all.