1 A psalm of Asaf. Hashem is truly good to Yisrael, to those whose heart is pure.
miz-MOR l’-a-SAF AKH TOV l’-yis-ra-AYL e-lo-HEEM l’-va-RAY lay-VAV
73:1 A Psalm of Asaf
Asaf is mentioned in Sefer Divrei Hayamim I (15:16-17) as one of the Leviim whom David appointed to sing in the Beit Hamikdash, and he is the author of the next ten psalms. In this psalm, he contrasts the suffering of the righteous in this world with the success of the wicked, and notes that the wicked are “at ease” (verse 3) though he experiences difficult times. The way Asaf begins the psalm, however, is most significant. He speaks of Hashem’s greatness and his belief that God rewards His servants with good: “Hashem is truly good to Yisrael, to those whose heart is pure.” The question of theodicy is as old as time. Though Asaf struggles with the fact that his enemies rejoice, relax and persevere while he has been “constantly afflicted” (verse 14), he nevertheless begins with an acknowledgment that ultimately, what the Lord does to His faithful servants is good, even if the benefit is not immediately obvious. In the meantime, Asaf concludes that although he suffers, just being close to the Lord is good, as he states “nearness to Hashem is good” (verse 28).2 comments
2 As for me, my feet had almost strayed, my steps were nearly led off course,
ב וַאֲנִי כִּמְעַט נטוי [נָטָיוּ] רַגְלָי כְּאַיִן שפכה [שֻׁפְּכוּ] אֲשֻׁרָי׃
3 for I envied the wanton; I saw the wicked at ease.
ג כִּי־קִנֵּאתִי בַּהוֹלְלִים שְׁלוֹם רְשָׁעִים אֶרְאֶה׃
4 Death has no pangs for them; their body is healthy.
ד כִּי אֵין חַרְצֻבּוֹת לְמוֹתָם וּבָרִיא אוּלָם׃
5 They have no part in the travail of men; they are not afflicted like the rest of mankind.
ה בַּעֲמַל אֱנוֹשׁ אֵינֵמוֹ וְעִם־אָדָם לֹא יְנֻגָּעוּ׃
6 So pride adorns their necks, lawlessness enwraps them as a mantle.
ו לָכֵן עֲנָקַתְמוֹ גַאֲוָה יַעֲטָף־שִׁית חָמָס לָמוֹ׃
7 Fat shuts out their eyes; their fancies are extravagant.
ז יָצָא מֵחֵלֶב עֵינֵמוֹ עָבְרוּ מַשְׂכִּיּוֹת לֵבָב׃
8 They scoff and plan evil; from their eminence they plan wrongdoing.
ח יָמִיקוּ וִידַבְּרוּ בְרָע עֹשֶׁק מִמָּרוֹם יְדַבֵּרוּ׃
9 They set their mouths against heaven, and their tongues range over the earth.
ט שַׁתּוּ בַשָּׁמַיִם פִּיהֶם וּלְשׁוֹנָם תִּהֲלַךְ בָּאָרֶץ׃
10 So they pound His people again and again, until they are drained of their very last tear.
י לָכֵן ישיב [יָשׁוּב] עַמּוֹ הֲלֹם וּמֵי מָלֵא יִמָּצוּ לָמוֹ׃
11 Then they say, “How could Hashem know? Is there knowledge with the Most High?”
יא וְאָמְרוּ אֵיכָה יָדַע־אֵל וְיֵשׁ דֵּעָה בְעֶלְיוֹן׃
12 Such are the wicked; ever tranquil, they amass wealth.
יב הִנֵּה־אֵלֶּה רְשָׁעִים וְשַׁלְוֵי עוֹלָם הִשְׂגּוּ־חָיִל׃
13 It was for nothing that I kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence,
יג אַךְ־רִיק זִכִּיתִי לְבָבִי וָאֶרְחַץ בְּנִקָּיוֹן כַּפָּי׃
14 seeing that I have been constantly afflicted, that each morning brings new punishments.
יד וָאֱהִי נָגוּעַ כָּל־הַיּוֹם וְתוֹכַחְתִּי לַבְּקָרִים׃
15 Had I decided to say these things, I should have been false to the circle of Your disciples.
טו אִם־אָמַרְתִּי אֲסַפְּרָה כְמוֹ הִנֵּה דוֹר בָּנֶיךָ בָגָדְתִּי׃
16 So I applied myself to understand this, but it seemed a hopeless task
טז וָאֲחַשְּׁבָה לָדַעַת זֹאת עָמָל היא [הוּא] בְעֵינָי׃
17 till I entered Hashem‘s sanctuary and reflected on their fate.
יז עַד־אָבוֹא אֶל־מִקְדְּשֵׁי־אֵל אָבִינָה לְאַחֲרִיתָם׃
18 You surround them with flattery; You make them fall through blandishments.
יח אַךְ בַּחֲלָקוֹת תָּשִׁית לָמוֹ הִפַּלְתָּם לְמַשּׁוּאוֹת׃
19 How suddenly are they ruined, wholly swept away by terrors.
יט אֵיךְ הָיוּ לְשַׁמָּה כְרָגַע סָפוּ תַמּוּ מִן־בַּלָּהוֹת׃
20 When You are aroused You despise their image, as one does a dream after waking, O Hashem.
כ כַּחֲלוֹם מֵהָקִיץ אֲדֹנָי בָּעִיר צַלְמָם תִּבְזֶה׃
21 My mind was stripped of its reason, my feelings were numbed.
כא כִּי יִתְחַמֵּץ לְבָבִי וְכִלְיוֹתַי אֶשְׁתּוֹנָן׃
22 I was a dolt, without knowledge; I was brutish toward You.
כב וַאֲנִי־בַעַר וְלֹא אֵדָע בְּהֵמוֹת הָיִיתִי עִמָּךְ׃
23 Yet I was always with You, You held my right hand;
כג וַאֲנִי תָמִיד עִמָּךְ אָחַזְתָּ בְּיַד־יְמִינִי׃
24 You guided me by Your counsel and led me toward honor.
כד בַּעֲצָתְךָ תַנְחֵנִי וְאַחַר כָּבוֹד תִּקָּחֵנִי׃
25 Whom else have I in heaven? And having You, I want no one on earth.
כה מִי־לִי בַשָּׁמָיִם וְעִמְּךָ לֹא־חָפַצְתִּי בָאָרֶץ׃
26 My body and mind fail; but Hashem is the stay of my mind, my portion forever.
כו כָּלָה שְׁאֵרִי וּלְבָבִי צוּר־לְבָבִי וְחֶלְקִי אֱלֹהִים לְעוֹלָם׃
27 Those who keep far from You perish; You annihilate all who are untrue to You.
כז כִּי־הִנֵּה רְחֵקֶיךָ יֹאבֵדוּ הִצְמַתָּה כָּל־זוֹנֶה מִמֶּךָּ׃
28 As for me, nearness to Hashem is good; I have made Hashem my refuge, that I may recount all Your works.
כח וַאֲנִי קִרֲבַת אֱלֹהִים לִי־טוֹב שַׁתִּי בַּאדֹנָי יְהֹוִה מַחְסִי לְסַפֵּר כָּל־מַלְאֲכוֹתֶיךָ׃