Psalms 73:26 - Homiletics
Strength in weakness.
"My flesh …forever." Asaph's psalms bear no less the stamp of Divine inspiration than David's; yet their character is widely different. The Holy Spirit employs different instruments for different ends. Reading David's psalms and David's life, one is ready to say we have an epitome of all human experience. Yet Asaph shows us depths of experience into which probably David never penetrated. This psalm opens abruptly: "surely"—or, as in the margin, "yet," nevertheless—"God is good to Israel!" This points back to that severe mental conflict in which Asaph had barely escaped overthrow ( Psalms 73:2 , Psalms 73:3 ). A struggle with doubt, in which many can sympathize. In Psalms 73:16 , etc; he shows how his eyes were opened to the folly and injustice of his hard thoughts of God. From this deep abasement ( Psalms 73:22 ) he springs at a bound to the loftiest height of faith. And in this twenty-sixth verse, he crushes together, as it were, the two extremes of his experience. At once a cry of defeat and a shout of victory.
I. THE CRY OF DEFEAT , A CONFESSION OF WEAKNESS , DESPAIR , FAILURE . "My flesh," etc. "Heart," in the Scriptures, stands for the whole mental and spiritual nature; "flesh" (often "flesh and blood"), for our nature as mortal, often as sinful. Here, as in Psalms 84:2 . An utter breakdown of energy, bodily, and mental. Hope and courage seem spent. The past looks an abyss in which happiness has been engulfed; the present, a crushing burden; the future, a dark blank. If I were to call this a picture of human life, I should seem to many darkly, ungratefully exaggerating. Our views of life depend on our experience. Young, happy, strong, hopeful,—you find nothing like this. Past has few resets, present few drawbacks, future no clouds. Thank God for sunshine! But remember on what a brittle thread life hangs. Health may fail, friends die, most trusted investments prove a snare, calculations mistaken. ( Like houses on brink of Lake of Zag. ) The lesson of our own weakness one of great lessons of life. God has various ways—some gentle, some severe—of teaching it; but we need it. Those who do not learn it, not the happiest ( Psalms 84:6-9 ). Extreme case—people ruined by their own prosperity. But take milder examples—those who have never learned humbling lesson of weakness; not ripest, richest Christians, most able to sympathize. Even our blessed Lord needed this lesson, not. only for perfection of obedience, but sympathy (Hebrew Psalms 5:7 , Psalms 5:8 ; Psalms 2:1-12 :18). If you have never been forced to say, "My flesh and my heart fail," you have much to learn. Especially the full comfort and triumph of the other half of the verse.
II. THE SHOUT OF VICTORY . The utterance of triumphant faith. "God," etc.
1 . This implies what the New Testament calls reconciliation to God. Theologians speak of God being reconciled to us. The Scriptures, of our being reconciled—God reconciling us to himself ( Romans 15:10 , see Revised Version, Romans 15:11 ; 2 Corinthians 5:18 ). God cannot be "the Strength" of a heart unreconciled—at enmity. I believe there are persons who have heard the gospel preached all their lives, yet never really taken in that the gospel is just this message. They know something is wanting to make them true Christians. But "unreconciled!—at enmity!" Not so bad as that! If they could see that it is even so, this would be first step to "taking hold of God's strength." An uneasy conscience is a great cause of weakness; a dead or sleeping conscience, worse. Peace is strength; righteousness, love, joy, are strength.
2 . A mind at rest in God; satisfied as to the wisdom, justice, goodness, of all his dealings; not because we can thoroughly understand them, but can trust God. Asaph had severe trials (verse 14:). But worst, hardest, difficulty of reconciling what he saw in the world with goodness and righteousness of God. Such doubt as may arise in the most devout mind; the more devout, the more painful. Insoluble to reason (verse 16). "Light and peace come not by thinking, but by faith" (Perowne). In God's house, perhaps in public worship, perhaps in silent meditation and prayer, these two great truths dawned on him:
3 . Accordingly, here is an infinite portion, a boundless hope. "My Portion forever." Guidance here, glory hereafter (verse 24). In this sunshine, the darkness and chill of doubt vanish. Not that the believer overlooks the difficulties, but looks beyond. Perhaps sees more forcibly than the unbeliever; but only shadows across the path; no longer barriers, stumbling blocks. "God" both "Strength" and "Portion." Not my views, my faith, but God himself. He does not say, "strength of my flesh," though that, too, is true ( Galatians 2:20 , "in the flesh"). Let that fail, decay, perish! Before Asaph spoke or wrote as a prophet, he had to learn as a believer. The same Spirit is willing to be our Teacher.
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