But for me it is good to be near God. Psalm 73:28
Recently I was asked what passage of Scripture had most influenced my life. It’s a great question. My answer: Psalm 73.
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward You. Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from You shall perish; You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works. Psalm 73: 21-28
Twenty-five years ago, I first encountered this Psalm. It impacted me so much that I wrote a Scripture song using its words. (Unfortunately, not a very good one.) It has resonated with me ever since.
Verse 1 declares the goodness of God, and verses 2-20 are an extended meditation on the sometimes prosperous lives of godless people, and the devastation awaiting them. It then pivots to the rich goodness of a Godward life, characterized by nearness to, desire for, and expectant hope in God. The passage quoted above closes it out in one of the most beautiful passages in the whole Bible. Reflecting on the goodness of God and the life He has made available to me in Psalm 73 slingshots my heart past the ephemeral things that so often have my attention, to the glorious hope of the world to come when all things are made new in and through Jesus Christ. Every time I read it, it recalibrates my heart to sing and live God’s praise.
It is timeless and universal, and helps me reconnect to the desire for God the Psalm expresses, and that I want to pursue.
God is good, and He does good (Psalm 119:68). Cultivating a life of desiring and pursuing Him matters, and is the only way of life that makes sense given His goodness to His people, in Christ. In Christ, God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. He can be my refuge, today. I can tell of all His works, today. Like the Psalmist, my soul has at times been embittered, but in Christ, my soul is found flawless before the Father. Although I have been pricked in heart, desired lesser things, and failed in many ways in my own resources, in Christ, I have been brought into the presence of the Father, unblemished. In Christ and the resources of the Holy Spirit, my fluctuating Godward desire embraces God’s constant amazing grace.
I love to remember the truths Psalm 73 proclaims! They move me to worship and orient my heart to life as it truly is from an eternal perspective. They renew me, inviting me to lift my eyes to that which matters most. They help me both trust and obey the Lord.