What does Psalm 73:12 mean?
ESV: Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.
NIV: This is what the wicked are like-- always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
NASB: Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.
CSB: Look at them--the wicked! They are always at ease, and they increase their wealth.
NLT: Look at these wicked people — enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
KJV: Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
NKJV: Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches.
Verse Commentary:
Verses 12 through 14 are spoken by those who see examples of godless people (Psalm 73:1–3) who seem to be happy and healthy (Psalm 73:5–6), then conclude it's better to abandon God (Psalm 73:10–11). Here, the apparent ability of some evil people to gain wealth easily is a source of angst. To use a common English expression, these people seem to make money "hand over fist."

This psalm is meant to express a very real, very heartfelt struggle for many God-believers. The language of these verses seems exaggerated, which is a deliberate choice. Not every single wealthy person is evil, nor is every evil person successful. Some, but not many, who honorably follow God are wealthy. The point of this psalm is the real-world feelings of real-world people. This is exactly how a God-honoring person might feel under suffering, when it seems to them that a godless person has no cares or worries, at all.

It is not wrong to have money, but it is wrong for money to have us. Money is not the root of all evil; it is the love of money which is the source of many kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Paul defined great gain as "godliness with contentment" (1 Timothy 6:6) and warned that seeking wealth for wealth's sake leads many people into utter disaster (1 Timothy 6:9). The healthy approach to money sees it as a gift from God, so His people should serve as faithful stewards who use it in ways that honor Him (1 Corinthians 4:2).
Verse Context:
Psalm 73:10–14 describes a kind of despair, to which God's people are often tempted. Scripture notes that following God's will is a surer path to success than rejecting Him (Proverbs 9:10–12), but those who do evil can sometimes prosper. When a godless, depraved person seems happy and healthy, a believer may be tempted to concluded it doesn't pay to serve God. Hurting people are especially sensitive to seeing the wicked prosper, while they suffer. That tempts them to conclude that their righteousness brought them nothing except trouble. The imagery in this section is deliberately exaggerated to enhance that contrast. In the next section, however, Asaph will indicate that this conclusion is wrong, and why (Psalm 73:15–17).
Chapter Summary:
Seeing godless people thrive, even as they hatefully mock God, while believers suffer, leads many people to a crisis of faith. This was the case for Asaph. Using exaggerated imagery, he complains to the Lord that it seems as if evil people have easy lives, while godly people suffer. Further reflection reminds Asaph that sin does lead to consequences, both in this life and the next. He confesses his sins of bitterness and resolves to trust God more deeply.
Chapter Context:
This psalm is the first in a collection which corresponds to Leviticus and the overall theme of worship. Asaph, who wrote Psalm 73, confesses that seeing prosperity among wicked people brought him bitterness and envy. That nearly caused him to lose trust in God. Carefully considering God and His eternal truth led Asaph to a stronger faith. Job chapter 21, in which trial-laden Job also complains about the success of some wicked people, mentions many of the same ideas as Psalm 73.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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