Psalm 73:20

ESV Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
NIV They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
NASB Like a dream when one awakes, Lord, when stirred, You will despise their image.
CSB Like one waking from a dream, Lord, when arising, you will despise their image.
NLT When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.
KJV As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.

What does Psalm 73:20 mean?

The book of Proverbs helps to explain that sin, even if it seems to bring benefits, is always a path to disaster (Proverbs 9:13–18). Even so, there are times when a godless person seems happy, healthy, and successful (Psalm 73:4–5) even though they are ignorantly hateful towards God and His people (Psalm 73:6–9). This tempts those who honor God to be bitter (Psalm 73:2–3) and others to abandon truth to follow those bad examples (Psalm 73:10–11). Once we move beyond those natural, very real anxieties, we realize that rejecting God ultimately gains a person nothing (Psalm 73:15–19). The destruction of those who hate God will be swift and complete.

Those who are arrogant and wicked, yet manage to be rich, live in a dream world. That "dream" state applies in two ways: their lives seem blissful, like a good dream, but they are also just as illusory as a dream. Those dreams and fantasies will turn into nightmares of very real suffering when God judges them. The Old Testament concept of "despising" involves dismissal or rejection: God will wave away the comfortable lives of the wicked like someone waving their hand to ignore an illusion.

Luke 12:16–21 relates the story of a rich farmer who lived in a dream world. A bumper crop launched his dreams of bigger barns and a luxurious lifestyle. He fantasized that his abundant wealth could satisfy his soul. He told his soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry" (Luke 12:19). However, God put a quick end to the rich farmer's dreams; He said to him, "Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" (Luke 12:20). Jesus told this story to warn all who lay up treasure for themselves and are not rich toward God (Luke 12:21). This warning is highly appropriate for those who smugly depend on their bank account and investments to make them secure and happy.
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