Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Prosperous Wicked and Plagued Saints

Prosperous Wicked and Plagued Saints
by David Engelsma

An Exposition of Psalm 73

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120 Pages
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One of the most powerful temptations of the believer is to doubt God’s goodness to him in time of trouble—earthly trouble including family distress, sickness, and financial hardship. Lending force to the temptation is God’s apparent goodness to the wicked in their prosperity—earthly prosperity including a peaceful home, health, and economic success.

Every Christian struggles with this temptation at some time in his life. Every Christian knows by experience that, especially when his trouble is great, or continues without relief, the temptation threatens his very faith in God and thus his salvation. The words of the psalmist in Psalm 73:2 are his own: "My feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped."

This temptation and this struggle regarding earthly troubles, as well as the overcoming of the temptation and victory in the struggle by every child of God are the profound and grand themes of Psalm 73.

Prosperous Wicked and Plagued Saints is a commentary on this precious psalm that applies to stumbling believers and their children, in a practical way, that gospel-truth which alone holds them up and restores them. This is the truth of God’s goodness, His gracious and favourable attitude, to his people in their trouble, as it is also the truth of God’s curse of the wicked in their prosperity.

In light of the teaching of Psalm 73, the book takes issue with a theory about earthly prosperity and earthly woe that, for all its strange popularity with Reformed and evangelical Christians, only intensifies the believer’s temptation to doubt in the hour of trouble: the theory of common grace.

"This little gem of a book ... [is] a faithful exposition of Scripture, a book for all the saints. Prof. Engelsma takes Scripture word for word and carefully opens up its meaning with devastating effect. Verse by verse and phrase by phrase, through just over 100 easy-to-read pages, he shows us how [Psalm 73] totally demolishes the theory of common grace" (The Reformed Witness).

"I've started on David Engelsma's book, and I like the way he writes: very simple and direct, unflinchingly getting right to the truth of the matter. It started me thinking about prosperous and famous people of today, like David and Victoria Beckham, Simon Cowell and Rod Stewart, for example." - Essex, England

"I highly recommend this book for those who are struggling, depressed, stressed, and or suffering. It will straighten out your perspective. For the unbeliever this book will warn you not to take for granted your prosperity (whether in business, family, friends, society or finances) and instead look to the God who created you and will judge you according to your many sins and turn in repentance to Him." - New York, USA

"I’m currently reading Prosperous Wicked and Plagued Saints by Prof. Engelsma. It’s very good so far. Prof. Engelsma is a very good writer. His language is clear and easy to understand which makes it a joy to read." - Denmark

To read chapter 1 of this book in German, click here.
To read chapter 8 of this book in German, click here.

To read excerpts from chapter 1 of this book in Portuguese, click here.

To read chapter 2 of this book in Portuguese, click here.

John Owen (1616-1683) on Psalm 73: "We know that time and again God allows worldly good things to pass to the very people that He hates, whom He has a fixed determination to punish, and whom He has declared to be reserved for eternal punishment and destruction. (Psalm 73:4-12, 18-20). Note carefully—things which are good in themselves, but bestowed in such a way as to make it impossible to determine whether they are given in love or in hatred, cannot reveal any facet of God's character. ('The righteous and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them. All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked: to the good and the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as to the good, so to the sinner,' Eccles. 9:1-2.) God gives good temporal things to the wicked. Why conclude that He is attempting to beguile them into realizing that He can be appeased? Far rather, as sovereign, He is fattening them for the coming day of slaughter!" (Biblical Theology [Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1994], p. 78).