Psalm 73  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Psalms 73
Psa 73:1(top)
Psa 73:2(top)
Psa 73:3

“when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” The wicked often prosper on earth, and Job complained about it 1,000 years before Asaph the psalmist (see commentary on Job 21:7).

Psa 73:4

“For there are no pains in their death.” This seems out of place at this point, and some scholars have suggested that an emendation be made to the Hebrew text. But there may be no need for an emendation. As the NET text note points out, an Aramaic inscription was found at Nerab (a site south-east of Aleppo, Syria) “which views a painful death as a curse and a nonpainful death in one's old age as a sign of divine favor.” Death can be extremely painful, and many people who are close to death in our modern world are on some kind of painkiller. The psalmist is pointing out that the wicked are blessed in this life, and having a pain-free death was considered a blessing from God.

Psa 73:5

“men.” The Hebrew text reads, “man” in the singular, but it is a collective singular and refers to mankind.

Psa 73:6

“A garment of violence covers them.” The wicked are habitually involved with violence; they wear it daily like a garment.

Psa 73:7

“Their eyes bulge out from their fatness.” The people are so fat that their eyes seem sunken in their heads. Also, perhaps, these “fat” (prosperous) people stare out from their prosperity and see things from a perverted perspective (a point we can see by reading the whole verse).

Psa 73:8(top)
Psa 73:9

“against the heavens.” This is one way of interpreting the verse. Other scholars see it as saying that they “set their mouth in the heavens,” meaning that they speak as if they rule in heaven, and also (per the last stanza in the verse), speak as if they rule the earth. There is truth in both interpretations.

Psa 73:10

“Therefore God’s people turn to them here.” This is a fact, and a warning. It often happens that God’s people mistake abundance for the blessing of God and leave the strict adherence to the Word of God and follow after the rich and prosperous wicked people.

“and they slurp up waters of abundance.” The fooled and foolish people slurp up the “abundance” of the wicked prosperous ones.

Psa 73:11(top)
Psa 73:12(top)
Psa 73:13(top)
Psa 73:14(top)
Psa 73:15(top)
Psa 73:16

“to me.” The literal Hebrew is an idiom: “it was troubling in my eyes.”

“troubling.” The versions vary greatly on exactly how to translate this verb in this context. The word means “labor, toil,” but it does not seem that the psalmist is saying that it was too much work to figure the situation out, but rather that the task was troubling, painful, oppressive, difficult, etc. Life is hard and unfair, and trying to figure out the “whys” of life can be very troubling, difficult, oppressive, and wearisome.

Psa 73:17(top)
Psa 73:18(top)
Psa 73:19

“they perished.” This is the prophetic perfect idiom; they will perish. They have not perished yet, but they will.

[For more on the prophetic perfect, see commentary on Eph. 2:6.]

“by destructive events.” The Hebrew is more literally, “by terrors,” where “terrors” is put by metonymy for things which cause terror, such as disaster.

Psa 73:20

They are like a dream when one wakes up.” There is no real substance to the wicked. When Yahweh awakes, there will be nothing to them and they will disappear.

“when aroused.” So much of the time today, it seems as if God is asleep. The wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. But when God does wake up—and He will—all the dreams and aspirations of the wicked will be seen to be just fantasies, and they will be gone like a dream is gone in the morning.

Psa 73:21

“heart...kidneys.” In the biblical world, the “heart” refers to the thoughts, not the emotions. The Word of God points to the fact that our kidneys, bowels, and belly (or womb) are part of our mental/emotional life, not “just physical organs.” Our “gut,” including our intestines, bowels, kidneys, and stomach contain as many nerve cells as our brain, and studies are now showing that our “gut” contributes significantly to our emotional life and health. When the Bible mentions “heart” and “kidneys” it refers to the thought life (“heart”) and emotional life (“kidneys”).

[For more on the heart referring to the thought life, see commentary on Prov. 15:21. For more on kidneys referring to the emotional life, see commentary on Rev. 2:23, “kidneys.”]

“felt pierced.” The Hebrew word is an imperfect form, indicating a feeling that continued (for the translation “felt pierced,” see HALOT.a

Koehler and Baumgartner, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament.
Psa 73:22(top)
Psa 73:23(top)
Psa 73:24(top)
Psa 73:25(top)
Psa 73:26(top)
Psa 73:27

“You have destroyed.” This is the prophetic perfect idiom, expressing a future event in the past tense to emphasize the certainty of it.

[For more on the prophetic perfect, see commentary on Eph. 2:6.]

Psa 73:28(top)

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