“Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awakes” (Psalm 73:19, 20).
Very likely we have all experienced a terrifying nightmare and awakened to the peace of home and family in the real world. The psalmist here describes what appears to be the reverse for people who have enjoyed the pleasures of sin in this world.
In his observation of those who had gained material wealth through evil motive and means it appeared that they had a life of ease with riches, position and health obtained without God (v 12). They have no conscience about their ungodly and wicked ways because they deny they will be held accountable. They have gotten away with their schemes among men so they reason that they have also kept their evil ways from God (v 11) if they consider Him at all.
The psalmist stood on the slippery edge when he began to wonder if it was worth while walking with the Lord, living the life of repentance and faith and being chastened by the Lord.
The godly were mocked and put down while the wicked boasted in his achievements and ill-gotten gain. He is full of pride in his achievements and wants all to know he did it his way.
Like the psalmist we may be tempted to wonder if it pays to live a godly life when the ungodly live well and at ease. We will find help to put to death that temptation in the same way he did. He went into the presence of the most holy God. Then he “understood their end” (v 17).
The ungodly live in a dream world that is not real. It is pleasant and they enjoy it but just as one awakes from a nightmare they will awaken from their dream. Then the nightmare without end will begin. The justified outpouring of God’s wrath on the unrepentant sinner will be worse than the worst nightmare and it will be without end.
The psalmist realises afresh that “those who are far from You shall perish” and that “it is good for me to draw near to God” and to “put my trust in God” (vv 27, 28). Let us ensure we live the reality and not the dream.