Note: there have been numerous proposals for the structure of this psalm but increasingly a concentric structure has been noted. The following is modified from G.T.K. Wong, Biblica, 2016, 97, 16-40. The turning point was going into the sanctuary and it has been suggested that the reference is to seeing the bronze plates covering the altar (Numb 16:38) which were a reminder of the folly of Korah, Datham and Abiram.
A. [God-psalmist-wicked] 1 Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. 2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
B. 4 [the wicked seem to prosper without God] For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. 6Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. 8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. 11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
C. [regret] 13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
D [self reflection] 15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. 16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
E.[revelation] 17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
D’. [realisation] 18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. 19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. 20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.
C’. [regret] 21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. 22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
B’. [Psalmist enjoys fellowship with God] 23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. 24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
A’. [wicked-Psalmist-God] 27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
2 thoughts on “Psalm 73*”
This is very interesting, and helpful. One small editorial issue is that the 2nd division beginning at verse 4 is not preceded by an upper case “B.”
Thanks John. We really appreciate corrections as well as comment. All proposals are “work in progress”.