The Prosperity of the Wicked


Series: Psalms

Title: The Prosperity of the Wicked Psalm 73: It can seem as though the wicked always prosper, but when viewed from a sanctuary perspective, we see how God actually works.


  • 2008-10-18: Atlanta
  • 2008-10-25: Linden
  • 2021-11-13: Birmingham First Church


  1. 223: “Crown Him with Many Crowns”
  2. 272: “Give Me the Bible”
  3. 327: “I’d Rather Have Jesus”

Scripture: Hebrews 10:19-25

  1. Introduction (Psalm 73)
    1. Rita Crundwell
      1. In 1983, Rita Crundwell was appointed the treasurer and comptroller for her small city of Dixon, Illinois (pop. 15k), holding the post for nearly 30 years.
      2. Crundwell was highly trusted and a highly successful breeder of quarter horses (if you breed two quarter horses, do you get a half horse, and if you breed two half horses, do you get a whole horse?)
      3. In 1990, Crundwell opened a secret bank account that she used for the purposes of stealing money from the city. Since she was so trusted, the bank never verified that she actually had the authority to open what falsely appeared to be a city account. While she was busy embezzling money, the city’s auditor trusted Crundwell, assumed she was honest, and signed off on her financial statements without checking them properly.
      4. Over the next 22 years, Rita Crundwell stole an average of nearly $2.5 million per year from the city of Dixon, for a grand total of almost $57 million.
        1. She used the money to build up her quarter horse operation, buy multiple houses and cars, and a $1 million RV.
        2. People trusted her, though, and assumed that her wealth was either inherited or came from her quarter horse business.
      5. Meanwhile, due to the embezzlement, the city suffered severe budget shortfalls. Crundwell forced severe cuts due to funding issues, foregoing road maintenance, preventing the police from purchasing necessary equipment, and other similar things.
      6. Crundwell was eventually arrested by the FBI in 2012 for the largest municipal fraud in US history, sentenced to 19 years behind bars, and forced to sell all of her assets to pay nearly $57 million in restitution.
      7. Until her arrest, Rita Crundwell lived well for 22 years off of the proceeds of her crimes.
    2. Have you ever noticed that wrongdoers often seem to prosper? Even though Rita Crundwell was eventually caught, how many wrongdoers never get found out?
      1. But maybe it isn’t just the large-scale fraudsters. Maybe it’s the coworker who has successfully climbed to the top by destroying others around them. Perhaps it’s the bully who appears invincible.
      2. If you’ve ever wondered how God can allow bad actors to prosper, you’re in good company. In fact, your company includes a Bible writer
      3. Asaph is listed as the author of 12 psalms. Whether this Asaph was a specific individual or represents the Asaphites, a guild of temple musicians, is disputed.
      4. However, whoever this Asaph was, he wrote in the Bible about his dismay over the prosperity of the wicked.
  2. Psalm 73:1-3 Giving up on God when things don’t go your way
    1. God is good, but…
    2. The Psalmist notices that things sometimes go very well for the wicked, and nearly loses his faith over it
  3. vv. 4-12—The prosperity of the wicked
    1. Have you noticed that those who don’t care about God seem to get by quite well? Sometimes, it seems, wickedness pays
    2. Example from Job: His “friends” had elaborated on the fate of the wicked, but Job replies with what experience showed: Job 21:7-15.
    3. Malachi 3:10 promises over-abundant blessings to those who are faithful in tithe and offerings, yet many of the faithful are anything but rich
    4. Where’s God when we need Him? Doesn’t He have a portion of the bargain to fulfill?
    5. These questions have caused many people to lose their faith—or nearly lose their faith
  4. vv. 13, 14—The trials of the righteous
    1. It’s bad enough that the wicked frequently appear to prosper, but the psalmist notes that often, the righteous suffer.
    2. Is there any point to righteousness? Why bother?
    3. These questions trouble many people, sometimes leading them astray
  5. vv. 15-17—The change
    1. Notice what changed the psalmist’s attitude: entering the sanctuary
    2. What does it mean to enter the sanctuary?
      1. Exodus 25:8—The sanctuary was a place for God and people to connect
      2. Throughout the Old Testament, it was the focal point of worship
      3. Hebrews 10:19-25—The sanctuary points us to Jesus, and to a relationship with God
    3. When the psalmist entered the sanctuary, his perspective changed
    4. Ultimately, the questions raised in this psalm are a matter of perspective. Things are what they are, but how we relate to them is what counts
    5. Remember, too, that we’re in a spiritual battle. We shouldn’t be surprised when we get attacked.
  6. vv. 18-20: The fate of the wicked
    1. No one truly gets away with sin
    2. God isn’t unjust
  7. vv. 21-28—A changed perspective
    1. Notice that now, the psalmist realizes that his relationship with God is vastly superior to the “pleasures of sin for a season.”
    2. He now realizes that really, nothing counts apart from God
    3. Notice the last line: “I will tell of all your deeds.”—The psalmist’s new perspective leads him to tell others of God—a far cry from v. 2.