Walking Tongues and Bulging Eyes

“…their tongue struts through the earth” (Psalm 73:9).

This is my favorite psalm. How can you go wrong with images of wagging tongues walking peacock-like through Israel to embody the wicked of this world? It deserves a book-length treatment. I only get to give it a couple paragraphs.

The writer is in despair. The wicked prosper, the unjust flourish in riches. “For they have no [hunger] pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek” (v. 4). “Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies” (v. 7). Injustice has gained the wicked nothing but a nice, comfortable life of leisure.

"...their eyes swell out through fatness."

I like this psalm because the author is a realist, even a pessimist. He deals in the harsh realities of life and holds nothing back. The wrong people get the good life, the righteous suffer. Everything is going to pot and there’s nothing he can do to stop it. He was “envious of the arrogant” when he “saw the prosperity of the wicked” (v. 3). Who can’t relate to that?

“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end” (vv. 16-17). It was in prayer and worship that his thoughts were corrected. He went from a self-centered, depressive mindset to a worshipful one. When he put God in the center—rather than himself—he could see clearly. Through the lens of the gospel, Jesus humbles us and sets himself on the throne of our hearts.

On his own, there is no hope to be found. But the wicked don’t stand a ghost of a chance before the Lord (v. 20). And it’s when he realizes this that the psalmist can worship: “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” (vv. 25-26).

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