Psalm 73:17- “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end.”
I have a photo that I took of Devils’ Tower that I particularly like. It is difficult to get a feel for just how huge the Tower is from photos, but this one is of three climbers ascending the side of the formation. When you tell people there are climbers in the picture, they have to look hard and long before they find them, perched on a ledge a little over halfway up. They are just tiny, just little specks, and seeing how small they are gives one a feeling of just how huge the Tower is.
In Psalm 73 Asaph is struggling with envy and resentment toward evil men. It often seems like people prosper by their wickedness. The richest, most famous, most powerful people in the world are usually the most evil, and that seems to really cast into doubt the truth of the Christian faith. If God is just, why do people profit from evil and suffer for doing good?
The Bible often labors to give us a right sense of perspective. The problem is that so often our perspective is so limited. If I don’t give my child food right now because we’re going to have dinner in a half an hour, he thinks he’s going to die. The thought of waiting until Christmas for a present seems like an eternity. But an adult hopefully has a better perspective on time frames, and thus does not fret about needing to wait a few minutes for dinner. Likewise, as we mature in the faith, we will recognize that our lives in the present age are, as the Scriptures say, like a flower that springs up and is blown away in the afternoon, like a mist that appears for a short while and then is blown away (James 4:14).
The worship service is a wonderful opportunity to step back and get that sense of perspective. It was in the sanctuary where Asaph got the necessary perspective on life. We spend our week with our nose pressed up against life, focused on details of the job, the family, the house, all those things. And rightly so; we should be careful in our dealings in life. But worship allows us to step back and see the big picture, to see the relative size of my life in comparison to all of eternity with God. God is infinite in might and majesty; He is grand and huge. His plans are complex, multifaceted, and long-term. He will bring justice, truth and right to the world. The wicked man may appear very successful, but he is set on a slippery slope (verse 18) and will suddenly come to ruin.
All this we will see by faith, not by sight. We need to be continually reminded of this broad perspective, like an artist that alternates between looking very closely at his painting to get the detail just right, and stepping back to look at the whole from a distance. In worship we can gain that broad perspective on our lives in this world in the context of God’s infinity and our eternal lives with Him, and be comforted and guided through the difficult tangles of this life.