Psalms 73:1-3 ESV
“Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
My husband and I live in an apartment complex with woods and a creek behind it which we can see from our porch and out our windows. There is a walking trail out there which runs along the creek. Two of my grandchildren asked me to go walking with them the other day along the trail. They had previously discovered some steps going down to the creek which they wanted to show me.
Now, I have equilibrium issues, so I don’t do well with normal steps going downhill if there is not a railing to hold on to, and these steps were treacherous, but my grandchildren had already gone down them so I had to stay with them. It had been raining for days here so they were muddy and slippery, so I had to carefully manage them so that I did not slip and fall. So, I identify with this “my steps had nearly slipped.”
So, as I read this Psalm, this is what I pictured in my mind, these steps which were treacherous on which I had nearly slipped and fallen. And then I considered what those steps were leading to. They were leading to this creek, so to water, but what is in this water is certainly questionable, as well as this water is moving rapidly down to the river and it could be filled with snakes. We do know there are snakes in the woods, for sure.
My grandson wanted to walk across the creek on a fallen tree but I would not let him. What if he fell? I don’t know what is underneath that water. I don’t know what is in that water. Could be sewage and all sorts of stuff. The water is also moving fast down to the river. What if the water swept him away? How would I rescue him? I can’t swim, either. I am a very protective grandmother. I pray all the time for the safety of my grandchildren.
So, anyway, back to the water. In the Bible, water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and eternal life with God and of spiritual cleansing, but this water has questionable properties to it, and it could include raw sewage. It is definitely not pure water, and again, snakes are probably in the water, too, and if anyone fell into the water, they could be swept away with it.
So, the picture the Lord was giving me here is of treacherous steps (stages, walks, actions) which are muddy (filthy, wicked) and slippery (smooth, untrustworthy) going downhill (descending, falling away) leading to impure water (an impure gospel, impure life) filled with snakes (devils, evils) and sewage (moral filth) which has the potential of sweeping people away to their deaths if they should fall into it.
So, I saw a caution here that we must watch our steps. We must not be careless in our walks of faith. We must not take dangerous risks which could take us in the wrong direction and/or lead to our deaths. We must not play with sin or think we can dabble in this or that which we know is wrong. The danger is that we might be swept away by false doctrines which might lead us to death not to life everlasting with God.
We must recognize the dangers that are out there, and the lies coming from the mouths of snakes (false teachers), and we must see the filth that has been inserted into the gospel of our salvation, and we must warn others against falling prey to this false gospel which gives free license for its adherents to continue living in filth, for it will lead to death, not to life.
The thing about this water (creek, torrent), though, is that it is beautiful to behold as it moves along flowing toward the river. It is attractive to behold, but what lies underneath it is what is dangerous. And the same is true of a false gospel which has all the appearance of goodness on the outside but which has a snake’s bite waiting for you if you get caught in the stream.
Psalms 73:23-28 ESV
“Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
“For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
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.”
I stayed with my grandchildren on that walk and I kept warning them not to run off ahead of me. I counseled my grandson not to cross over the creek on that fallen tree for he might fall to his death. I kept my eye on them the whole time and I sought after their safety and their protection. This was uppermost on my mind and in my heart as I walked with them.
And the Lord has a similar relationship with his children. He watches over us and he counsels us in the way we should go, and he warns us of dangers lurking ahead or which might be sneaking up on us and coming in behind us. He cautions us against taking careless steps, and he warns against snakes (false teachers) and murky waters (dangerous doctrines).
If we start to go the wrong direction, he warns us against danger, or he calls us to not run ahead of him or to not fall behind him, and he encourages us to remain with him and to listen to him. And he gives us all we need to remain steadfast in our faith, to not wander from him, and to stay on the path that he has for us.
So, I believe the Lord wants to caution everyone today who professes his name to remain with him and to not wander off, to not take risks, to not test fate, to listen to him and to do what he says, and to find our safety and our protection in him and in him alone, and not in other humans who are bound to fail us, some of whom might lead us in the wrong direction, too.
Songs in the Night
An Original Work / December 18, 2013
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84
Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.
I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!
Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.
I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!
Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!