2. The Problem of Old.
a. The Prosperity of the Wicked. “I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Ps. 73:3, ESV). The noun, “prosperity” here is from shalowm, “Welfare, health, prosperity; Peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment;” (BDB) “health, security, tranquility (Job 21:9), good condition, success, comfort . . . (Lev. 26:6; Judg. 4:17; q Kigs. 2:5).” (CWSOT)
Shalowm does not just mean, “riches and wealth” only. It also means the whole range of health and wealth, peace and prosperity. It indicates, “a satisfied condition, an unconcerned state of peacefulness (Gen. 5:15). . . a sense of well-being in Gen. 26:29.” (CWSOT)
He looked at corrupt people in high places. They lived in big mansions in exclusive villages. They drove BMWs and Fortuners. They wore Rolex watches. They traveled to Macau and threw away money in the casinos. They went on vacation in the States. They ate lechon for breakfast.
Asaph explains why they are prosperous, satisfied, and fulfilled. First, they have painless prosperity. “For they have no pangs until death” (Ps. 73:4, ESV). First, they have no “pangs” in their death. “Pangs” is from chartsubbah, “Bond, fetter;” (BDB) “fig. a pain.” (Strong) There is no feeling of pain until their death. I looked at the Hebrew word here for “death.” Attached to the word, “death,” is a prefixed preposition—a letter called, lamedh. Now this preposition, lamedh, either indicates the indirect object of the verb, meaning “in death” (NKJV); or it denotes, “direction; towards” an object, which is “death.” Asaph is saying that the wicked have no pain in life, even to, towards, their death. In other words, they seem to live a painless life till they die at a ripe old age.
Second, they have physical prosperity. “Their bodies are fat and sleek” (Ps. 73:4, ESV). The adjective, “fat,” here is from bariy’, “fat, fatter, fed, firm, plenteous.” (CWSOT) They look fat and well fed. “Healthy babies.” Why did Asaph say this? Most Israelites during their captivity under the Babylonians must have looked thin and malnourished. But the wicked looked fat and well fed. They live the good life. They pay for good food in expensive restaurants. They buy groceries in cash, not card. They vacation in expensive resorts/hotels, all expenses paid.
“They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind” (Ps. 73:5, ESV). Third, they have mental prosperity. The noun, “trouble” here is from ‘amal, “Toil, trouble, labour” (BDB); “wearing effort; hence, worry, wheth. of body or mind:–grievance(-vousness) . . . miserable(-sery), pain(-ful), perverseness, sorrow.” (Strong) Asaph said the wicked don’t seem to have troubles and trials and sufferings and sorrows, as others have. They don’t seem to worry compared to others. They can sleep well at night, while others can’t. This is the peace that goes with the word, “prosperity,” shalowm.
Fourth, they have medical prosperity. Mylene and I had a friend. Mylene just talked with her last April. Then last week, she heard that she died of leukemia. She was brought to the hospital and died 3 days later. That’s how fast you can lose your life due to disease. You all know that Mylene had aneurysm. The doctor told us that you don’t get aneurysm overnight. It develops over time. She must have gotten it over the years.
Asaph wrote that the wicked “are not stricken like the rest of mankind” (Ps. 73:5, ESV). The verb, “stricken,” is from naga`, “to be stricken (by disease)” in the Pual stem. (BDB) The verb is imperfect, meaning, that the wicked don’t seem to get sick over time. They never worry about where to find money to buy medicines or to pay for the big hospital bills. The wicked drank, but they didn’t get cirrhosis of the liver. They smoked, but didn’t get lung cancer. They party all night, but never get sick. They don’t worry about getting sick, because even though they eat fattening food, they can always afford a good doctor and expensive medicines.
What else? Fifth, they have personal prosperity. “Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches” (Ps. 73:12, ESV). The adjective, “ease,” is from shalev, “quiet” (BDB); “tranquil; (in a bad sense) careless; abstractly, security:–(being) at ease” (Strong). (The KJV, “prosper in the world” seems to be inaccurate.) The wicked seem to be always living as if there’s no problem in the world. They don’t worry about paying high school bills. They don’t worry about washing the dishes or washing their clothes. They have all the servants in the world to do all that. They have peace and quiet, not worrying about anything in the world. They are at ease in life.
Are you like Asaph today? Do you find yourself looking at the unrighteous around you living the good life, while you are trusting the Lord, but suffering? Do you feel depressed, disillusioned, and discouraged?
If you are wondering why good things happen to bad people, while bad things happen to good people, just remember this. You have God. With Christ in you, you have God by your side. You may not prosper as the wicked prosper, but God holds you by His hand.
Listen! Even if you have all the health and the wealth of this world, but you don’t have Christ in you, then you have nothing. You may not have all the things in this world, but if you have Christ in you, then you have everything.
 BDB, s. v. lamedh.
 Baker, Complete Word Study, s. v. lamedh.