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.[a]
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[b] 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.
A few years ago, I got serious about Scripture memorization, specifically memorizing longer passages. The first large section I memorized was Psalm 73. If you are familiar with this psalm, you may recall the sweet truths at the end, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” What a powerful promise!
The Indulgences of the Wicked
But do you know how the psalm starts? More specifically, what caused the writer of this psalm to speak such moving declarations? He begins by describing, in excruciating detail, the indulgences of the wicked. He elaborates on what they look like, what they wear, and what they do with their time. The writer himself admits to being “envious of the arrogant” (v. 3) when he considers the lavish lifestyle of the wicked. He laments how “all in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence” (v. 13). In other words, he is doing all the Lord commands, yet still the evil person prospers.
Instead of focusing on how the wicked appear to live carefree with no immediate consequences, the psalmist shifts his focus to what truly lasts. And it was in the sanctuary of God that his weary soul came to this revelation. In awe, the psalmist ends the song with an outpouring of admiration proclaiming all that God means to him. He gushes from a full heart saying that the Lord is his comfort, his guide, his counselor, his reward, his treasure, and his strength. But that’s not the best part! He ends by giving us the secret that makes this possible.
Draw Near to God
The psalmist writes in verse 28, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Lord God my refuge that I may tell of all his works.” This verse is dear to my own heart and has been instrumental in my attitude in hardship. The Bible says it is good to be near God. Notice what the writer says will happen to those who are far from God—they will perish. We can experience God in the same way the psalmist does by doing one thing: drawing near to God. As a result, we can’t help but give him all the glory and “tell of all his works!”
If your life feels out of control and doesn’t make sense, remember your need to be near to God. A frequent prayer of mine is “Lord, I don’t know why this is happening, but I do know it is good to be near you.”
The Bible is full of similar language that exhorts us to draw near to God. James tells us to “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Throughout the Psalms, we see statements like these: “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works” (Ps. 119:27) and “In your presence there is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11). Being in the presence of God is better than the false promises and empty joys that the world has to offer. It is good to be near God.
God has used this simple truth to comfort my soul in seasons of long-suffering, and I hope it encourages you, wherever the Lord has you right now. If you haven’t made Scripture memorization a regular practice, I encourage you to start today. Meditating and memorizing his truth is a simple way to draw near to God.