“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.”
~ Psalm 73:28
In Psalm 73, Asaph gives an account of the sore temptation that had taken him–temptation had led him into despondency where he traversed a dark and slippery path. He wrote, “But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped” (Psalm 73:2). Chiefly it was his carnal views of the wicked that led him down the dreaded road. Thankfully, he was not left in this condition. His understanding did return and he was restored to a proper knowledge of the events that had greatly distressed him.
Proper knowledge led to humble repentance, “Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins” (Psalm 73:21). He acknowledged his ignorance in verse 22 declaring, “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.” His conclusion is consistent with the scriptures, in that it is always foolish to stray from God. However, it is infinitely more foolish to stay from God. “For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee” (Psalm 73:27).
The end of the wicked is destruction. They are far off “having no hope, and without God in the world.” He realizes the blessedness of his standing regardless of troubles in the flesh and the promotion of the sinful in the world. He owns that it is to his own good and blessing to draw near to God. He praised God that he was not consumed in his errors but was led back into the way. His conclusion was that it was good, he was trusting in God, and he would declare all His works. Let us now investigate three things that are suggested in our text, namely, our approach to God, our salvation by God, and our working for God.
In the first place, we consider our approach to God. Asaph writes, “But it is good for me to draw near to God.” We know that approach to Him is necessary because of our inborn separation from Him. “The scripture hath concluded all under sin” (Galatians 3:22). Realizing our condition, we must come to God. Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). We can only come to God through Christ. Christ also testified, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). We cannot come to Christ of our own working “it is the gift of God.” “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:16). It is not of our own power or ability that we come to God. “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts” (Psalm 65:4).
Truly then, Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith.” Therefore, we are chosen by God unto salvation as says the scriptures, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thessalonians 2:13-14).
In the second place, we consider our salvation by God. Asaph declares, “I have put my trust in the Lord God.” To put our trust in the Lord is to be saved for Paul told the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). Jesus also preached, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” There is no salvation apart from faith and that faith is the gift of God according to the scriptures, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is not earned by work on our part. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). We find that “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). The Psalmist declared, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,” (Psalm 110:3). So we conclude with Jonah, “Salvation is of the LORD.”
In the last place, let us think about our working for God. Asaph says, “that I may declare all thy works.” He does not place his works before his salvation but after and makes his salvation the grounds for and causes of his good works. In Psalm 40, it was after that David was brought up “out of an horrible pit” and his feet were set “upon a rock” that he “preached righteousness in the great congregation.”
The saved are to walk in holiness before the Lord. Following the progression rightly, we discern that salvation is unto good works as the scriptures proclaim, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The vital union with Christ is the source of our fruits. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
Therefore, we see how each builds upon the other and the latter is an evidence of the former seeing that the former is source of the latter. In other words, we are chosen by God unto salvation (II Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 1:4), we are saved by God through faith (Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:5), and we are saved by God unto good works (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14). Surely, it is good for us to “draw near to God.”