Psalm 73: The Destiny Hermenuetic
"...until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I considered their end." (v.17)
There are two things that I find myself repeating over and over again:
1. No one is more influential in your life than you are because no one talks to you more than you do.
2. Human beings do not live life based on the facts of their existence, but based on their interpretations of the facts.
There is no such thing as a human being who is not an interpreter. Every human being is a theologian. In some way every person is asking and answering deeply spiritual questions. Every human being is a philosopher. Everyone seeks to understand the meaning and purpose of life. Every human being is an analyst and a researcher searching for understanding of the people, locations, and situations that they encounter every day. Every human being is an archaeologist picking through the past; looking to understand where they have been, what they have experienced, and what they have done. No one actually lives thoughtlessly. They may be unaware of their thoughts. They may not be intellectual or academic, but everyone pushes life through the sieve of the personal worldview that they have built for themselves. This worldview is authoritative and life shaping. It does not determine what we see so much as it determines how we see it.
This interpretive function is called hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. You carry around with you your own personal life hermeneutic; that is, your particular way of making sense out of life. Now let me take this one step further. Your hermeneutic is what gives sense to your behavior. Everything you do and say has underlying meaning and purpose when understood from the vantage point of your worldview. For example, if I was raised believing that a certain race of people were dangerous, it would make sense for me to be afraid of them and to do everything I could do to avoid them. If I was convinced that coffee led to cancer, then it would make sense that I would restrict my intake of coffee. The thoughts of your heart are very important because those thoughts tend to precede and determine your behavior.
Asaph's (the writer of Psalm 73) problem was not just jealousy and discouragement. No, his problem was rooted at a deeper level. Asaph's problem was a defective hermeneutic. His view of life lacked a crucial ingredient and without this ingredient he was not able to make sense out of what was going on around him. You see, he looked around and every where he looked it seemed that the bad guys were winning. The arrogant, proud, and lawless guys seemed to have all of the wealth, health, pleasure and ease. It didn't make sense. How could a just and holy God allow the bad guys to prosper and the good guys to suffer? Asaph began to wonder if it was worth it to obey God. He says in the psalm that he got so embittered that he was like a beast before God (v.22).
But Asaph was making a devastating interpretive error. His view of life was missing a piece that must be included in order to understand correctly what is and what God is doing. Asaph's view of life had no destiny to it; no eternity it was marching toward. You see, without eternity, Asaph was right. If this present physical world is all we have, then all life is about what you can experience, acquire, and enjoy in the here and now. If this life is all that there is then you would expect a good God to bless those who follow him right here, right now and curse those who mock him right here, right now. But this is not all there is. From day one the world has always been marching toward a destination. Life was never meant to be understood and lived without a final destiny in view. The only way to understand life is to understand that this (the right here world you are now living in) is not meant to be a destination, but a place of preparation for a final destination.
This means that you can't live today with a destination mentality as if this is all that is. You can't live with a destination mentality expecting to experience all of God's good things right here, right now. You can't live with a destination mentality that forgets that God will do whatever he needs to do in the here and now to assure that you will be prepared for then. You can't live with a destination mentality that allows you to envy people who have what you don't, right here, right now, but who are marching toward an eternal disaster.
You and I must live with a preparation mentality. The trials, injustices, hardships of today do two things for you and me. They remind us everyday that this is not our final destination. You can't look at the personal and societal brokenness and suffering that is all around us without remembering that the God who made this world and everything in it, this God who is the definition of everything that is good, wise, loving, and true, could not be satisfied with the world as it is. The trials of today remind us that our God has promised to one day make all things new. But there is another thing the difficulties of today do for you and me. They drive us to the end of ourselves. They drive us beyond our autonomy and self-sufficiency. They drive us beyond our own righteousness, strength, and wisdom. And in so doing, they begin to mold us into what God intends us to be doing; preparing for our final home.
So, today as you look around and it seems as though the bad guys are winning, put on your destiny glasses and look again. Grace has given you something better than they are now experiencing. Grace has given you eternity; a destination so glorious the most eloquent words on a page could not do it justice.