CHOOSE YOUR BIBLE VERSION

Psalm chapter 73

New International Version

1 A psalm of Asaph. Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, 'How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?'
12 This is what the wicked are like-- always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. 15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. 21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
English Standard Version

1 A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. 7 Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. 8 They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. 9 They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. 10 Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. 11 And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. 13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. 16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. 21 When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. 23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
King James Version

1 {A Psalm of Asaph.} 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 beside 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.
New American Standard Bible

1 God certainly is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! 2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pains in their death, And their belly is fat. 5 They are not in trouble like other people, Nor are they tormented together with the rest of mankind. 6 Therefore arrogance is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them. 7 Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of their heart overflow. 8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high. 9 They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return here, And abundant waters are drunk by them. 11 They say, 'How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?' 12 Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence; 14 For I have been stricken all day long, And punished every morning. 15 If I had said, 'I will speak this way,' Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children. 16 When I thought of understanding this, It was troublesome in my sight 17 Until I entered the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. 18 You indeed put them on slippery ground; You dropped them into ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, Lord, when stirred, You will despise their image. 21 When my heart was embittered And I was pierced within, 22 Then I was stupid and ignorant; I was like an animal before You. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. 24 You will guide me with Your plan, And afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom do I have in heaven but You? And with You, I desire nothing on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. 28 But as for me, the nearness of God is good for me; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, So that I may tell of all Your works.
New Living Translation

1 A psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. 2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. 3 For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. 4 They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. 5 They don't have troubles like other people; they're not plagued with problems like everyone else. 6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. 7 These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! 8 They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. 9 They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. 10 And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. 11 'What does God know?' they ask. 'Does the Most High even know what's happening?' 12 Look at these wicked people--enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.
15 If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. 16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! 17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. 18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. 19 In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. 20 When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. 22 I was so foolish and ignorant--I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. 23 Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
27 Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. 28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
Christian Standard Bible

1 God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my steps nearly went astray.
3 For I envied the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have an easy time until they die, and their bodies are well fed. 5 They are not in trouble like others; they are not afflicted like most people. 6 Therefore, pride is their necklace, and violence covers them like a garment. 7 Their eyes bulge out from fatness; the imaginations of their hearts run wild. 8 They mock, and they speak maliciously; they arrogantly threaten oppression. 9 They set their mouths against heaven, and their tongues strut across the earth. 10 Therefore his people turn to them and drink in their overflowing words. 11 The wicked say, "How can God know? Does the Most High know everything?"
12 Look at them--the wicked! They are always at ease, and they increase their wealth. 13 Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing? 14 For I am afflicted all day long and punished every morning. 15 If I had decided to say these things aloud, I would have betrayed your people. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless 17 until I entered God's sanctuary. Then I understood their destiny. 18 Indeed, you put them in slippery places; you make them fall into ruin. 19 How suddenly they become a desolation! They come to an end, swept away by terrors.
20 Like one waking from a dream, Lord, when arising, you will despise their image. 21 When I became embittered and my innermost being was wounded, 22 I was stupid and didn't understand; I was an unthinking animal toward you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me up in glory. 25 Who do I have in heaven but you? And I desire nothing on earth but you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever. 27 Those far from you will certainly perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, God's presence is my good. I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, so I can tell about all you do.

What does Psalm chapter 73 mean?

Asaph was a worship leader and prophet in the time of King David (1 Chronicles 6:31–32, 39), but he almost lost his faith in God. Bitterness and envy over what seemed to be an unfair situation led him to a spiritual crisis. Scripture does not say if some specific event, or person, inspired this psalm. By deeply considering the truth, Asaph was able to come to a firm conclusion: his faith in God was justified.

Though he saw God's faithfulness to Israel, Asaph struggled to understand why it seemed that wicked people were so prosperous and healthy. As the psalm continues, it becomes clear that these are somewhat exaggerated complaints, but they reflect a concern many Christians have felt. Job chapter 21 parallels many of the same themes as this psalm. Few emotions are as frustrating as experiencing hardship while seeing those who we think "deserve" to suffer escaping similar troubles (Psalm 73:1–3).

The psalm depicts godless people as free of pain, well fed, and trouble free. Books such as Proverbs make it clear that sin does indeed come with consequences (Proverbs 9:13–18). In the heat of the moment, however, a suffering believer can feel as if wicked people have nothing to worry about, at all. Bitterness sets in, and cynicism whispers that all wicked people have it easy. In fact, they seemingly have lives which are so comfortable they can afford to flaunt their status. Rather than being ashamed of their sin, they celebrate it (Psalm 73:4–7).

Even worse, for those who honor God, is how wicked people ridicule and mock believers. The modern era is overflowing with examples of faithful Christians being slandered, taunted, insulted, and sneered at by those who think they are above God. Asaph was pained to see this coming from those who, it seemed, suffered no consequences (Psalm 73:8–9).

For some, temptations and ridicule create unbearable pressure. Rather than oppose what God says is wrong, they turn away from faith and embrace the attitudes of these wicked people. They renounce their former beliefs. They claim that honoring God and obeying His Word is a waste of time. Worse, they claim it's a hindrance to their lives (Psalm 73:10–14).

Asaph recognized the impact of these errors. Especially as a spiritual leader, he knew how damaging his own fall from faith would be. Rather than embrace cynicism and bitterness, he sought to better understand God. From that humble perspective, he remembered that wickedness does, in fact, usually result in earthly troubles. Beyond that, no one will escape God's judgment, even if they seem to avoid punishment during their earthly lives. Asaph recognized that his bitterness was a sin, something he can confess (Psalm 73:15–22).

The psalm ends with a confirmation of faith in the Lord. Compared to everything the world may offer, God is far better. Not only can believers trust in God's plan during earthly life, they also look forward to eternity in His presence. Those who reject Him, on the other hand, face destruction. Asaph's appropriate response to this is a commitment to bring the Lord praise (Psalm 73:23–28).