Psalm 73:13 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Psalm 73:13, NIV: "Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence."

Psalm 73:13, ESV: "All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence."

Psalm 73:13, KJV: "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency."

Psalm 73:13, NASB: "Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence;"

Psalm 73:13, NLT: "Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?"

Psalm 73:13, CSB: "Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?"

What does Psalm 73:13 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Those who abandoned God to imitate the prosperous wicked (Psalm 73:1–3, 10–11) concluded they had not benefitted in the least from obedience to the Lord. This is a tempting conclusion in a world which celebrates sin, mocks faith (Psalm 73:8–9), and seems to reward those who reject godliness (Psalm 73:5–6). While this is a very human response to very real pain, it's also an irrational and flawed approach. Later in this psalm, Asaph will explain how this despairing attitude falls short (Psalm 73:15–17).

One reason that envy towards affluent, wicked people is so tempting is because of our own flawed motives. Many people carry an assumption that the purpose of becoming a believer is to get something from God. Faith is seen as a transaction where we give God our worship, and so He "owes" us things like prosperity. Since God is truth (Isaiah 65:16), following His will is a more reliable path to happiness (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10–12), though not a guarantee. The real purpose of faith in God is to be free from the penalty and power of sin, so we can worship and serve God acceptably.

Jesus did not promise His followers an easy life full of good health and wealth. To the contrary, He promised a cross and conflict. He said, "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27). In John 16:33 He predicted, "In the world you will have tribulation." Certainly, the apostle Paul met with persecutions and countless trials as he served the Lord, but he remained faithful to the end of his life. He wrote: "I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure [meaning martyrdom] has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:6–7).