Theme: Asaph’s Turning Point
In this week’s lessons we learn how the psalmist moves from doubt to faith in the goodness of God.
Scripture: Psalm 73:1-28
Suddenly on this downhill path into floundering unbelief there comes a turning point. It is in verses 16 and 17. For just when he was about to be swept away, Asaph, the honest doubter, “entered the sanctuary of God” and came to understand the “final destiny” of the wicked.
The destiny of the wicked means their final judgment, that they will perish apart from God in hell. But what is the connection between this important perception and the psalmist’s entering into the sanctuary? John Calvin thought that entering the sanctuary meant studying the law of God that was kept there, that is, entering into the Bible’s doctrines. Another teacher has suggested that Asaph saw the altar upon which a fire was always burning and where the offerings for sin were consumed. The death of the sacrificial animals symbolized death as the end result of sin, and the fire could have reminded Asaph of this judgment.
I think that each of those views touches on the answer. But the whole answer, in my opinion, is that in the sanctuary Asaph came to see everything from God’s perspective rather than from his own limited and sinful world and life view. That is, he came to see the lives of the wicked and also his own life from the perspective of eternity. What happened is that he experienced the paradigm shift I was writing about in the introduction to this week’s study.
In an excellent contemporary study of this psalm, Roy Clements, pastor of the Eden Baptist Church in Cambridge, England, links this new perspective to worship, saying, “Worship…puts God at the center of our vision…It is vitally important because it is only when God is at the center of our vision that we see things as they really are.”1
1Roy Clements, Songs of Experience: Midnight and Dawn through the Eyes of the Psalmists (Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1993), pp. 80, 81.
What was Asaph’s turning point?
What is the connection between the final judgment of the wicked and the psalmist’s entering God’s sanctuary?
Reflection: Go back to yesterday’s reflection about periods of doubt in your life. What was your turning point?