PSALMS | A deep relationship with God | Summer 2021 Truth & Transcendence | Psalm 73

July 18, 2021 Speaker: Matt Nickel Series: PSALMS | Soundtrack for our Souls

Topic: Old Testament Passage: Psalm 73

Psalm 73: A deep relationship with God 

Intro story:  

A deep relationship with God is based on honesty. (Psalm 73:1-15) 

If there is one thing that stands out to me about the Psalms is how honest the writers  are about their thoughts and emotions. There is a depth to the relationship that is often  missing in our relationship with God. As the authors interact with God, their hearts are  opened and we see what is deep inside… And it’s not just the good parts. For example  David cries out to God 

Psalm 139:23-24 

[23] Search me, O God, and know my heart! 

    Try me and know my thoughts!  

[24] And see if there be any grievous way in me, 

    and lead me in the way everlasting! (ESV) 

Have you ever prayed that? How often have we spent time to even listen to our  thoughts… part of having a deep relationship with God is putting words to our  emotions, our anxieties, thoughts and our fears. I think sometimes we are afraid to look  into our hearts, we are afraid of what we might find. What brokenness, what  selfishness, what evil might lurk inside our hearts. God is not afraid of it. He already  knows what is in our hearts. If He already knows, then a big part of us expressing  ourselves is about us acknowledging it to ourselves. It is so heard to receive help or  advice when we are not clear about what we are feeling, why we are feeling unsettled,  or so broken.  

Once we understand what it is we are struggling with, we are more open to hear what  God has to say to us. So let me ask you, what are you thinking about? How are you  feeling about life? 

Psalm 77:2–3 

[3] When I remember God, I moan; 

    when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah (ESV) 

Psalm 13:1 

[1] How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? 

    How long will you hide your face from me? (ESV) 

Psalm 88:3–4 

[3] For my soul is full of troubles, 

    and my life draws near to Sheol.

[4] I am counted among those who go down to the pit; 

    I am a man who has no strength, (ESV) 

Psalm 69:24 

[24] Pour out your indignation upon them, 

    and let your burning anger overtake them. (ESV) 

Psalm 109:8–9 

[8] May his days be few; 

    may another take his office! 

[9] May his children be fatherless 

    and his wife a widow! (ESV) 

The Psalms are full of this pattern of  

  • Orientation - where everything makes sense 
  • Disorientation - Expressing anger, frustration, or lament over our world not making  sense 
  • Reorientation - Connect with God and find meaning in purpose in the midst of a  broken world 

And the truth is, there is often a gap between what we believe and what we experience. And  that can feel damaging to our soul. In this passage the Psalm starts with orientation: 

[1] Truly God is good to Israel, 

    to those who are pure in heart. 

That makes sense. God is good. Especially to his people. And specifically those whose hearts  are in right relationship with God… The pure in heart can also be a hang up as we know that  none of us are really “Pure in heart”. The Bible is clear that there is no one righteous. We have  all been damaged and have participated in brokenness and sin. Isaiah says…  

Isaiah 6:5 

[5] And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst  of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (ESV) 

So let’s understand the pure in heart to be those in relationship with God. Those who realize  they are sinful and broken and have confessed their need for Jesus to pay for their sins. 

So God is good to those he has a relationship with… Immediately the Psalmist drifts into  disorientation… 

[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. 

SO honest… I love it. When he says I nearly slipped, think rock climbing and your foothold is  starting to give out… and you are hangin there thinking… this is how I die.    

[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. 

Ever scrolled on social media? Like ever? I think spending 5 minutes on social media and it  does damage to our souls. We begin to feel envious of others. Why do they have so much fun?  Those vacations to Greece. Why did they get the good job and the good life?  

[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. 

He says, so… God this does not seem fair… I saw the prosperity of the wicked and I was  envious. Have you felt this? Does God not know how unfair this is? Does God not have  Instagram??? Life is such a struggle for me. I am really striving to do right. Make good  decisions. Go to church. Pay my taxes. Obey the laws. And yet my life is harder than everyone  else’s?????  

Either God is good or he is not. We begin to doubt God’s character like Adam and Eve in the  garden. 

Not Christian Karma.  

Have I kept my heart clean in vain??? Have you ever had this thought? This is honesty at it’s  best. Yes. We have all had this thought. This thought in particular shows us we are missing the  point. I want to camp on this for a second. We do not believe in Christian Karma. We do not  obey God so he will bless our lives. If that is why you come to church, or read your Bible, or do  good things, then you are believing in Christian Karma. I hate to break it to you. This is not how  God works. In general, God has designed the world to work a certain way, and by doing right,  in general this will lead to your flourishing. But our motivation for doing right is not God’s  physical blessing of money, fame, power, health, kids, marriage, relationships, etc. 

So what is the gospel? The Gospel is the good news that even though we all are broken, sinful,  and definitely not pure. He has made a way for us to be made pure by sending Jesus to pay for  our sins.

We can’t earn it and we can’t pay God back… and we certainly can’t manipulate God by  promising good behavior. 

So why behave at all?  

Here is what I want you to think about… if heaven is 100% certain. You can choose to live your  whole life with wealth, popularity, and everything… but no relationship with God. Or complete  poverty, but a deep relationship with God. Which would you choose? In the end you end up in  heaven with God. Just think about that for a second. There has to be a deeper reason to obey  God.  

The reason we have maintain a deep relationship with God, is that only He can satisfy the  soul. More about that later. 

Betraying the generation.  

If I would speak thus, I would have betrayed a generation of your children. And this is a good  reminder that our relationship with God impacts others. This is why it is so important that we  get this right. If we do not have an honest faith, our kids can see right through it. They can  sense insincerity. If you are not married, you roommates, your siblings, your close friends can  see the inconsistencies in your life. We need to be honest with others about our struggles.  Also, if we say we are Christians but in reality we believe in Christian Karma, we will damage  our kids. We say we love Jesus, but really our lives reveal that what we really want, what we  really love is money, success, and vacations… we are proven to be living a lie. And our kids  and friends see right through us. 

So what does being honest with God look like for you? Do you have a relationship with God?  Or are you pretending. Are you skeptical or angry at God?  

A deep relationship with God changes us. (Psalm 73:16-22) 

16] But when I thought how to understand this, 

    it seemed to me a wearisome task, 

Trying to understand why God does what He does is a wearisome task. It is not for us to  understand. We are not God. We do not make the shots. We are not in control. Ultimately we  need to be reminded of this truth. 

Isaiah 55:8 

[8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 

    neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. (ESV 

[17] until I went into the sanctuary of God; 

    then I discerned their end. 



But a deep relationship with God changes us… it says his perspective changed when went into  the sanctuary. Often times we are looking at the world from the perspective of a certain time  and place, and we cannot see what is true. Going to the sanctuary, coming to church, this is a  huge value we hold because we need to be reminded of God’s word. We need our perspective  to be changed. It’s not just coming to church that changes our perspective. A sanctuary is a 

holy place where humanity and God meet. You can refuge with God, walk in the cool of the  day, meet with God anytime you want. The new Testament calls us a priesthood of believers.  As priests we get to go into God’s presence and be changed by Him.  


[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.    

Here’s the truth: They are the one who are in a slippery place, they are the ones who have built  their life on a lie. There will be a day when the evil will be destroyed…  

But the truth is God is good to all. He loves his creation, even if they don’t love him back. God  is patient with the lost. He doesn’t want any to perish. But in the end, people who do not have  a relationship with God will be destroyed. This is a harsh reality. 

2 Peter 3:9 - God is not slow to fulfill his promises, not wishing any should perish but that all  reach repentance. 

One of the verses I have been meditating on is this. 

Isaiah 30:15 

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, 

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; 

in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” 

But you were unwilling, (ESV) 

I want to be someone who deeply rests in my relationship with God, but that requires me to  return to God as my refuge. Our lives as believers should be characterized with repentance, or  returning to God. As we turn our focus away from the problems and injustices of the world and  toward God, we are changed. As I have been praying through these verses I have been asking  God, where are my blind spots, in what areas do I need to repent and turn back to God. This  could be sinful actions or attitudes, or unhealthy habits, or incorrect beliefs about God.  

Meeting God changes us. Hearing about a God that loves us and dies for us, changes us. The  cross changes us. If God is true and real and good… that changes us.  

A deep relationship with God is about being near God (Psalm 73:23-28) 

[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. 


The whole reason we obey God, pursue a relationship with him, go to church, etc is to have our  souls satisfied by being near God. You see the while the rich and amazing food, adventures,  and vacations, they do not have God. 

He is continually with you. Like all the time. Do you believe this? God dwells in us. He holds  our right hand. Like our right hand is what we do most things with. We shake hands. We build  things. All the things we do. God is there. Present. With us and for us. We just forget about him. 

We don’t slow down to hear his counsel, or even consult with him when making decisions. If  God is for us and with us… who can stand against us. This should give us the confidence to  live our lives to the fullest. Not afraid to be who God creed us to be. Our strength comes from  him. Why do we live our lives like we are so afraid? I can’t help but think about Jesus in the  boat with the disciples and they are afraid of the storm and he says to them… “Why are you so  afraid.” God is literally with you. What could there possibly be that you are afraid of. This is our  present reality. We forget this. We live fearful lives, looking for someone to give us approval, or  tell us we are going to be ok. Rather than live the adventure that God has planned fo us.  

[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. 

Nothing on earth I desire besides you. That is a deep relationship with God. When he says that  God is his portion, as a Levite this was even more true. You see all the other Tribes got land as  the inheritance. The inheritance of the the Levites was to be priests. He is saying that his  relationship with God is his wealth. 

[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. (ESV) 

But for me… It a personal thing. You might not say the same. Being near God is my favorite  thing. I love it, I enjoy it and I wish I could spend more time feeling near to God.  

I have made the Lord God my Refuge. Have you made a point to be near God to rest in him,  to find your comfort and strength in being near God. This takes work, this takes intentionality.  This is what it is all about, this is what satisfies the soul. 

That I may tell of all your works, We must “Be before we do”. Meaning by making God our  refuge first, then we can tell others about what God has done… so often we talk about things  we have not experienced. They are little more than good ideas or concepts we have read  about. We have no business speaking for God unless we have spent time near God, listening  and being with him, that we might overflow with God’s wisdom…. because we cannot give  what we do not possess. 

A deep relationship with God starts with honesty.  

A deep relationship changes you.  

A deep relationship with God is about being with God  

May be today you need to get honest with God and yourself about where you are and express  that to God. Maybe you need to listen to God on how he wants you to change. Maybe you  need to carve out some intentional time to make being with God a priority. What ever it is God  is calling us to a deep relationship with him as we simply trust Jesus.