Wicked and Plagued Saints
by David Engelsma
of Psalm 73
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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
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
"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).