The world may change in many ways, but human nature never does. People struggle to comprehend why it is that tyrannical and corrupt people seem to manage to gather more power and wealth and escape the consequences that should be their lot in a just world. King David wondered about this, but concluded:
“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity; for they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb” Psalms 37: 1,2
The Prophet Jeremiah asks God directly:
“Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?” – Jeremiah 12:1
It’s a question for our day as well – Barack Obama, Eric Holder, organized crime in the financial sector, government bureaucrats that are immune from termination. Is there no end to it? Is there no day of reckoning?
The same questions were being asked in Asaph’s* day. The message from this Psalm appears to be that we don’t know how the evil fit in God’s plan or why He permits their continued existence. It even seemed to him that there was no particular, discernible benefit in seeking to please God, when crass persons who ignored and even mocked the Almighty, were living large and doing the do without so much as a speed bump to slow down their lifestyle.
Of particular note here, is verses 17 through 20, in which Asaph hears the ultimate retribution for those whom “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
Jesus Himself, perceiving the thoughts of the disciples, teaches them that the ‘wages of sin are death’. So this suggests an ultimate pay day. Not all wages are paid in the same manner and within the same timeframe. Let not your heart be troubled, seems to be the overall lesson. That and make provisions to be certain your ‘paycheck’ never gets deposited to your account.
The Fate of the Wicked
A Psalm of Asaph.
1 Truly God is good to Israel,
even to such as are of a clean heart.
2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone;
my steps had well-nigh slipped.
3 For I was envious at the foolish,
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For there are no bands in their death:
but their strength is firm.
5 They are not in trouble as other men;
neither are they plagued like other men.
6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain;
violence covereth them as a garment.
7 Their eyes stand out with fatness:
they have more than heart could wish.
8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression:
they speak loftily.
9 They set their mouth against the heavens,
and their tongue walketh through the earth.
10 Therefore his people return hither:
and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.
11 And they say, How doth God know?
And is there knowledge in the Most High?
12 Behold, these are the ungodly,
who prosper in the world;
they increase in riches.
13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain,
and washed my hands in innocency.
14 For all the day long have I been plagued,
and chastened every morning.
15 If I say, I will speak thus;
behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.
16 When I thought to know this,
it was too painful for me;
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then understood I their end.
18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places:
thou castedst them down into destruction.
19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment!
They are utterly consumed with terrors.
20 As a dream when one awaketh;
so, O Lord, when thou awakest,
thou shalt despise their image.
21 Thus my heart was grieved,
and I was pricked in my reins.
22 So foolish was I, and ignorant:
I was as a beast before thee.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee:
thou hast holden me by my right hand.
24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel,
and afterward receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but thee?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.
26 My flesh and my heart faileth:
but God is the strength of my heart,
and my portion for ever.
27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish:
thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.
28 But it is good for me to draw near to God:
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
that I may declare all thy works.
* Asaph – a’-saf (‘acaph): Is the name of three men in the Old Testament, of whom one is the reputed author of Psalms 50 and 73 through 83. He was one of David’s three chief musicians, the other two being Heman, and Ethan or Jeduthun, and we first hear of him when the ark was taken to Jerusalem (1 Ch 15:16-19). He conducted with cymbals the music performed in the tent where the ark was housed (1 Ch 16:4,5,7,37), while his two coadjutors discharged the same office at Gibeon (1 Ch 16:41,42). In 1 Ch 25:1 ff we are told that four of his sons were appointed to conduct under him detachments of the great chorus, the families of Heman and Jeduthun also furnishing leaders, and all took part at the dedication of the temple (2 Ch 5:12). A., H., and J. were called the king’s seers (1 Ch 25; 2 Ch 35:15), no doubt an official title of rank or dignity. The “Sons of Asaph” are mentioned in later times. They formed a guild, and played a prominent part at each revival of the national religion.