Add parallel Print Page Options

Book III
Psalms 73–89

Psalm 73

Why Do the Wicked Prosper?


A psalm by Asaph.[a]

The Problem

Surely God is good to Israel, to the pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet almost slipped out from under me.
I almost lost my footing.[b]
I even envied the arrogant when I observed the peace of the wicked.

The Prosperity of the Wicked

For there are no struggles at their death.
Their bodies are sturdy.
They do not have the trouble common to people.
They are not plagued along with the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace.
They wear violence like clothing.
Their eyes bulge out of their fat.[c]
The schemes of their hearts step over boundaries.
They mock. They speak maliciously.
From a high perch they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens.
Their tongues strut around on earth.
10 Therefore God’s people turn to them,
and they drink it all in.[d]
11 They say, “How can God know?
Does the Most High have knowledge?”
12 See, this is what the wicked are like—
secure forever, they increase in strength.

The Turning Point

13 Have I really kept my heart pure for nothing?
Have I kept my hands clean in vain?
14 I have been plagued all day.
My punishment comes every morning.
15 If I had said, “I will speak like this,”
I would certainly have betrayed the circle of your children.
16 When I tried to understand this, it was very troubling to me,
17 until I went to the sanctuary of God.
Then I understood their end.

The Solution

18 Surely you place them on slippery places.
You cause them to fall into destruction.
19 How quickly they come to ruin,
completely destroyed by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when someone wakes up.
So when you arise, O Lord,
you will despise them like an illusion.
21 Yes, my heart was bitter,
and I was torn up inside.
22 I was unthinking and ignorant.
I was a dumb animal before you.
23 Yet I am always with you.
You hold me by my right hand.
24 With your guidance you lead me,
and afterward, you will take me to glory.
25 Who else is there for me in heaven?
And besides you, I desire no one else on earth.
26 My flesh and my heart fail,
but God is the rock of my heart and my portion forever.
27 No doubt about it!
Those who are far from you will perish.
You destroy all who commit adultery against you.
28 As for me, God’s nearness is good for me.
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
so that I can tell about all your works.


  1. Psalm 73:1 Asaph was a temple musician associated with David. Psalms 73–83 are a collection by Asaph.
  2. Psalm 73:2 Literally the verse reads I, almost my feet were stretched out, my steps were nearly poured out.
  3. Psalm 73:7 The translation is a literal rendering of the Hebrew. The Greek reads guilt flows from their fat hearts.
  4. Psalm 73:10 The meaning of this verse is not certain. Literally the Hebrew reads therefore his people turn to them, and they guzzle down waters in abundance.