Psalm 73:22

ESV I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.
NIV I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
NASB Then I was stupid and ignorant; I was like an animal before You.
CSB I was stupid and didn't understand; I was an unthinking animal toward you.
NLT I was so foolish and ignorant — I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
KJV So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.

What does Psalm 73:22 mean?

Scripture makes a connection between irrational, blindly emotional responses and the inhuman personality of animals (Psalm 49:10, 20; 2 Peter 2:12; Jude 1:10). It may be natural to feel bitterness and anger when we see supposedly-evil people living better lives than we think we deserve (Psalm 73:2–3). More careful thought reveals that those attitudes are short-sighted and ultimately rooted in our own limited understanding (Psalm 73:15–21).

In that spirit, Asaph confesses that his initial sense of envy was a sin; he acted like an animal. Animals have emotions, personality, and a measure of self-awareness; they do not have a spirit that enables them to worship God (Genesis 1:27). Asaph's initial reaction was as if he had no connection with God. He says he was ignorant. He acted as though he did not know God was alive and capable of dealing with the arrogant wicked.

Use of the word "beast" in Hebrew is interesting. The term is mostly used in reference to livestock, as done here. A plural form of a very similar Hebrew word, thought to be a singular word from Egyptian derivation, appears in Job 40:15, where most English translations keep the term almost intact, transliterating behē'mot as Behemoth. Today we use the term "behemoth," in reference to a monstrous, large, or plodding animal.

Because unregenerate mankind is depraved, he cannot see things from God's perspective. The apostle Paul told the Corinthians: "The natural [unregenerate] person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). Asaph, therefore, confessed that in bitterly envying those who reject God, he had acted like an unbeliever.
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