Until I Went into the Sanctuary
Psalms 73:17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
Intro: I love my church because it is here that God helps me get my mind right.
This Psalm was written by a man named Asaph.
As I began to study, I found out exactly who Asaph was.
He was one of David’s song leaders.
Asaph was one of the men that David appointed to conduct the song service.
SEE I Chronicles 6:31-39
Asaph was not a half-hearted, inconsistent church goer.
He was in a position of leadership.
He ministered before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of the congregation.
He was a Levite; surrounded by other Levites.
His company were the Kohathites and Gershonites – burden bearers in the ministry.
They were not bench warmers; they were key players.
They didn’t sit in the shadows and observe; they were on the platform serving God publicly.
And yet – in this passage, Asaph was struggling with a lot of things.
Verse 17 is clear that when he went into the sanctuary of God, God helped him get his mind right.
We don’t know how long it had been since he was there.
The Bible says he served in the tabernacle, and then in the temple after Solomon built it.
Regardless of how much time he’d been out, one thing is sure – he was gone too long.
He was gone long enough that it affected many areas of his life.
How did it get that way? I’m not sure, but it looks like it was from missing church.
All it took was one visit back to the sanctuary of God, and his understanding returned.
Until he went into the sanctuary of God, he was messed up.
It affected every area of his life.
Since Psalm 73 is written in the first person, we’re going to put ourselves in Asaph’s place.
This morning, we are going to look at how Asaph was BEFORE he went into the sanctuary.
Tonight, we will look at how Asaph was doing AFTER he went into the sanctuary.
Until I Went Into the Sanctuary Part 1
Before I Went Into the Sanctuary
I. My Feet were Unstable – my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped
It’s amazing how slippery life can get outside of the church.
Sliding is a sign of a person that has gotten away from God.
They are referred to as backsliders.
People backslide because their feet is on slippery ground.
The world is filled with traps and snares.
- Psalms 140:5 The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah.
Asaph said his steps had well nigh slipped.
ILLUSTRATION: My driveway was solid ice this morning. It was all I could do not to completely wipe out on the way to church this morning. I knew it would be slippery, and I had to hold on to everything. I took baby steps. I felt like an old man. But I didn’t want to fall and break my neck.
Asaph is testifying about how unstable his path was BEFORE he went into the sanctuary.
His steps were treacherous; his feet were almost gone; his confidence level was ZERO.
His feet were so unstable it literally took everything he had JUST TO STAND; MUCH LESS TO WALK.
If you think you can stand for God outside of the church, you’re sadly mistaken.
You will never be able to stand; never be able to walk; never be able to make progress staying out of church.
Multiple places in Scripture remind us how desperately we need God to give our path and our feet stability.
- Psalms 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
God has provided a way for us to walk without slipping.
- Psalms 18:36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
One thing is certain – we need God if we want to walk without slipping.
II. My Focus was Unbiblical
- vs. 3, “I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
He knew they were foolish, and he STILL envied them!
He should never have been envious of the foolish. This is a common problem with Christians.
They look at the world and want what they have. This is unbiblical!
- Psalms 37:1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
- Proverbs 3:31 Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
- Proverbs 23:17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
- Proverbs 24:1 Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
- Proverbs 24:19 Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;
NOTE: His eyes were in the wrong place.
- In verse 3 he says “…when I saw…”
- In verse 12 he says, “Behold, these are the ungodly who prosper in the world…”
It’s amazing how fouled up you can get when you are looking at the wrong people!
He had no business watching the foolish; watching the wicked.
He had no business keeping up with all that the wicked were doing and enjoying.
The wicked may appear prosperous, but if they do not have God, they have nothing!
- Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
- Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
He also knew better than to think that the wicked; the foolish could be prosperous.
What does Psalm 1 say?
- 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
- 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
When you read vss. 7 and 12, you realize just how little Asaph thought of HIS riches.
As Christians, we can easily forget just how good God has been to us.
We can fail to recognize His bountiful blessings.
We can minimize the inheritance and the riches we have been given in Christ.
Church is where we get a fresh perspective on just how rich we really are!
III. My Foes were Unbeatable – vs. 4, 5
One of the problems of being out in the world is we get the impression that they are winning.
We start to get a foxhole mentality and start thinking that we are on the losing team.
Notice Asaph’s observation of the wicked:
- Vs. 4a – For there are no bands in their death – they will never get caught; they’ll die of old age
- Vs. 4b – …their strength is firm. (SEE Romans 5:6) For when we were yet without strength…
- Vs. 5a – They are not in trouble as other men…
- Vs. 5b – …neither are they plagued like other men.
IV. My Findings were Untruthful – vs. 13, 14
It’s amazing how distorted everything becomes when you’re out in the world.
It is so easy to completely lose sight of reality.
Asaph began drawing some pretty ridiculous conclusions before he went into the sanctuary.
A. About my Cleansing – vs. 13
Asaph was required to undergo extensive cleansing and sanctification in order to serve in the tabernacle.
His assessment of the situation was that it was all a waste of time.
That there was no benefit to his purifying; his cleansing; his washing; his sanctifying.
Did he not just contradict himself? READ VERSE 1!
- Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.
How can Asaph conclude that he had cleansed his heart in vain, if God is good to Israel EVEN TO SUCH AS ARE OF A CLEAN HEART…?????
- Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Getting right with God is never a bad idea.
Cleansing your heart and washing your hands is never in vain.
Living clean is never something you should regret.
Pursuing holiness is never a waste of time.
B. About my Chastening – vs. 14
Plagued all the day long?
Chastened every morning? Really??
Jeremiah had another finding.
- 22 It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
- 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
V. My Frustration was Unbearable – vs. 16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me.
Asaph was overwhelmed with frustration.
Before he went into the sanctuary, he was struggling just to make it through the day.
Because his feet were unstable, his focus was unbiblical, his foes were unbeatable, his findings were unsubstantial, it all began to overwhelm him.
He tried to process it; he tried to know it; he tried to understand it, and it was impossible.
I love how this is worded. I thought to know this.
He thought he could know it. He thought he should be able to know it.
But he couldn’t understand it because nothing he was seeing, feeling, thinking, experiencing WAS EVEN TRUE!
UNTIL HE WENT INTO THE SANCTUARY!!! THEN – and only then did he understand.
Until I Went Into the Sanctuary Part 2
After I Went into the Sanctuary
Intro: This morning, we looked at the problems that Asaph encountered UNTIL HE WENT INTO THE SANCTUARY.
This evening, we are going to look at what happened AFTER he went into the sanctuary.
I. I Admitted my Foolishness – vs. 22 “So foolish was I, and ignorant…”
Asaph acknowledged his error – vs. 21-22
Once the light came on, he was grieved in his heart because of his thoughts and
He was embarrassed at how foolish and ignorant his thought patterns had become. – vs. 22
He felt like a dumb animal in the sight of God.
Asaph’s perception and frame of mind was so far off that he was literally embarrassed.
Notice the transformation in Asaph’s thinking once he WENT INTO THE SANCTUARY…
In verse 2, Asaph was in a slippery place; but in verse 18 he realized it was the wicked that were in a slippery place.
In verse 3, Asaph envied the foolish; in verse 22 Asaph admitted that he was foolish.
In verse 4, Asaph thought the strength of the wicked was firm; in verse 26, Asaph’s realized his strength was firm
II. I Acknowledged my Failures – vs. 26 “My flesh and my heart faileth…”
Asaph realized after a trip to church that he could not trust his flesh.
He acknowledged that his flesh and his heart had failed him.
As a Christian, if you rely on your flesh, you will fail!
As a Christian, if you follow your heart, you will fail!
- Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
He had listened to his heart BEFORE he went into the sanctuary, but his heart had deceived him.
He had thought to understand and make sense of things in verse 16, but couldn’t.
III. I Adjusted my Focus – vs. 25 …there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
In verse 3, Asaph confessed that he had been envious of the foolish – BEFORE he went into the sanctuary…
In verse 25, Asaph stated that “…there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.”
He went from desiring the foolish to desiring the Father.
He went from coveting the godless to craving God.
Before he went into the sanctuary, he thought the wicked were invincible.
After he went into the sanctuary, he saw exactly how temporary they were. (vs. 18, 19)
In verse 4, he said their strength was firm. But in verse 19 he saw that they were brought into desolation in a moment.
IV. I Advanced my Fellowship – vs. 28a “It is good for me to draw near to God…”
One of the changes Asaph experienced was his attitude toward God.
In verse 24, he said he was plagued all the day long. Who sends plagues? God does.
In verse 14, he basically accused God of chastening him every morning. Who chastens believers? God does.
Isn’t it amazing?
The very God he was indicting BEFORE he went to church was the God he wanted to get close to AFTER he went to church.
But in verse 28, he said, “It is good for me to draw near to God…”
By the way, Asaph was drawing near to God when he went into the sanctuary of God.
The house of God is a great place to draw near to God.
In verse 27, he realized that the wicked were “far from thee”.
He wanted to do the opposite – draw nigh to God.
V. I Affirmed my Faith – vs. 23, 24, 28b
Asaph made an important decision after going into the sanctuary.
He made his mind up that he was going to put his trust in the Lord God.
He’d realized what a mistake it was to put his confidence in those around him.
He was no longer going to let what he thought was happening be his guide; he was going to trust God.
He was no longer going to let what happened to the foolish and the wicked be his compass.
He was no longer going to let what others said influence him.
- Vs. 24 Asaph told the Lord – “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel…”
VI. I Accepted my Function – vs. 28c
Asaph was ready to get back to work.
As a part of David’s special music; as a leader in his song service, Asaph was ready to do his job.
He knew that his job as a singer/musician/songwriter was TO DECLARE ALL THY WORKS.
Before he went into the sanctuary, he was in no shape to declare all the works of God.
All he could talk about was the prosperity and the works of the wicked.
That’s all he saw.
But afterwards, he was able to resume his ministry; his work; his service.
Before he went into the sanctuary, he didn’t have anything to sing about.
But now he did!