Psalm 73:16

ESV But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,
NIV When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply
NASB When I thought of understanding this, It was troublesome in my sight
CSB When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless
NLT So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is!
KJV When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;

What does Psalm 73:16 mean?

No matter how hard Asaph tried, this was a puzzle he could not unravel. He could not understand why the wicked fared so well. Scripture does not explain if he was thinking of a specific example, or a group of people, or just evil in general. Asaph felt very real angst, but also realized the danger of giving in to cynicism (Psalm 73:15).

Likewise, Christian believers often wear themselves out trying to understand why they experience trials while unbelievers seem to escape them. Insisting on a palatable answer costs them joy, peace, and even sleep. They may ask trusted Christian friends to pray for them, but a satisfactory explanation eludes them. Even their pastor cannot provide a comfortable response. Their friends may recite Romans 8:28, seeking to help, but to no avail. Even the assurance of a friend that he or she understands what a perplexed believer is going through doesn't always help. In times like those, frustrated believers can identify with Asaph.

And yet, at some point in time, even the most intelligent and experienced person will reach the end of their ability. No person can fully comprehend all things. There comes a point where we must admit our limitations and accept that not all questions can be entirely answered in this life (Isaiah 55:8–9). That includes our search for answers as to why some evil, godless people prosper while good people suffer (Psalm 73:2–3). At least part of our answer comes when we understand the end results of evil (Psalm 73:17).
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