Psalm 73:12; 23-261NIV New International Version Translations
12 This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
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.
This is a psalm by *Asaph, or one on his behalf. In the Old Testament there are three different men with the name of Asaph. The Asaph identified with these twelve Psalms is believed to be the son of Berechiah which was an ancestor of the Asaphites. The Asaphites are one of the families or guilds of musicians in the Jerusalem temple. This information is derived from books of 1 and 2 Chronicles. In the Chronicles it is said that Asaph was a descendant of Gershom the son of Levi. He is also known as one of the three Levites commissioned by David to be in charge of singing in the house of God. In 1 Chronicles 6:39 David appoints a man named Heman as the main musician or singer and Asaph as Heman’s right hand assistant and the Merarites at his left hand. Asaph is also credited with performing at the dedication of Solomon’s temple in 2 Chronicles 5:12.
The psalmist had a problem. Bad people had plenty of money and material things. Good people did not. Why? Would it be better for him to be bad? Then he went into God’s house. There he understood that bad people would die, but good people would always live with God!
The answer is always the same when we ask, Why do the wicked receive worldly blessings. God knows about knows about everyone. However, we humans still ask the question, why do the godless seem to have no troubles in life and have plenty of money?
The psalmist is sorry to even ask this question (verses 21-22) and considers himself stupid, like a wild animal, only interested in keeping his stomach full. So he comes to his senses and remembers that God is with him all the time and that is the most important thing in life:
- God would hold his hand and be his guide (verses 23-24)
- God would take him to glory (verse 24)
- God would give him everything on earth he needed (verses 25-26)
- God would make him strong (verse 26)
Items for Discussion
- Modern communication systems like Television, the Internet, Movies, Cell Phones, Instant Messaging, all make it harder not to see and envy those with wealth, those people that seem to ignore God but still succeed. How do we keep focused on God, knowing that communications are only going to get better in society and the problem only get worse?
- What are the risks if those who are evil in society control or corrupt our communications with either untruthful messages about wealth?
- How do we know when God is holding our hand?
- In a world filled with the wrong advice, how do we sort out God’s advice from the static and chatter of the world?
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
It is believed that Matthew wrote his Gospel while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome 63 A.D. Matthew was also called Levi, son of Alpheus. He was a publican, or tax-gatherer, under the Romans. Of his actual life and death we know very few facts. Socrates, a writer of the fifth century, says that he went to Ethiopia, after the apostles were scattered abroad from Judea, and died a martyr in a city called Nadebbar. However, how he died is unknown.
Treasures, or wealth, among people in Christ’s day generally consisted in clothes, gold, silver, gems, wine, lands, and oil. The use of the term “treasures” meant an abundance of “anything” that was held to be used for ornament or to add comfort to one’s life. This fact is one reason that the use of the word “moth” is used as a risk to one’s wealth. In our society today, we think at once of gold, and silver, land, and houses even automobiles. When a Hebrew spoke of wealth, he thought first of what would make a “display;” and included, as an essential part, splendid articles of dress. The “moth” would destroy their apparel, the “rust” their silver and gold; thus all their treasure would waste away. The word rendered “rust” signifies anything which “eats into,” and hence, anything which would consume one‘s property, and may very well mean more than the literal term “rust.”
Because the houses in Israel were frequently made of clay hardened in the sun, or of loose stones, it was comparatively easy and not uncommon, for thieves to “dig through” the wall, and carry out their theft.
So Matthew is telling us to make our provision for eternal happiness, not worldly pleasure.
We are cautioned not to expend our strength and spend our days focused on life here, but to let anxiety be focused on eternity. In Isaiah 55:2, we are reminded that In heaven nothing corrupts; nothing terminates; no enemies plunder or destroy. To have a treasure in heaven is to possess purity in this world so that eternal joy will be ours.
Items for Discussion
- What is a treasure?
- Is Matthew saying all treasure is bad and not worth storing up?
- How should today’s Christian balance their treasures with their life?
- What kind of treasure is Matthew calling on us to store up for our eternal life?
- If we are saved by faith not good works, then why should we even worry about eternal treasures?
- The Christian life is one of balance, work, success, generosity, faith and forgiveness. What are the actions and duties of our lives today that grow these attributes in a balanced way?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations