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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Psalms 71-75

Psalms 71

I found no attribution of authorship in this Psalm, but it sounds very similar to the Psalms of David in the references to God as his rock and his refuge. The author looks to God for help and safety in perilous times. He continually praises God for his protection and rescue. 

In vs. 9 he looks forward to the time of aging weakness when he fears his strength will have withered and his enemies are still conspiring against him. He is confident God will still be his savior and his enemies will die in shame.

In vs. 20, he admits that he has had many profound and bitter troubles, but God has been gracious to restore his name and honor. He praises God's righteousness and enduring comfort.

He promises to sing of God's faithfulness with the lyre and the harp. His testimony will be filled with praise for God's righteousness all the day long.

In Matthew Henry's Commentary, he does credit both Psalms 71 and 72 to David. Psalms 71 concerns David in his old age and 72 is David's prayer for Solomon when he becomes King of Israel.

Psalms 72

David had been king for 40 years, and he knew the difficulty of being a good king. He sought wisdom and righteousness for Solomon in his reign. 

He begins by asking God to provide wisdom and righteousness in Solomon's heart. Being king is not as easy as it looks.

Then he asks for the natural elements to bring blessings to the nation. Water for good crops is just the beginning. He calls for righteousness and defense for afflicted people and salvation for the children of the needy.

He prays for his territory to increase, that he will rule "from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth."(For details of the succession to the Throne, see I Kings 1 and 2.)

Matthew Henry's Commentary says this is the last Psalm David wrote when he was dying. It is not the last as they are organized in the Book of Psalms. 

Psalms 73

Psalm 73 begins the third book of Psalms. It is a Psalm of Asaph. Asaph was David's Director of Music. He wrote 12 Psalms so he was skilled in language as well as music. His works include Psalms 50 and 73 through 83. One authority posed the possibility that the psalms he wrote were dictated by David, but that was one person's opinion, and not generally accepted.

This psalm shares the attitude of many in the modern world. Satan paints an inviting picture of the life of the wealthy and powerful, and Asaph was almost taken in by it. He envied the arrogant and he almost went for that kind of security.

He was troubled by his own thoughts, and he felt he had betrayed his office. When he went to the Sanctuary of God, he saw their final destiny. Money and power were deceptive and God alone was his strength. His greed for power and money had made him a brute beast, but in God, he was restored, and with the Sovereign Lord as his refuge, he would stay near God and tell of his deeds.

Psalms 74

Psalms 74 is noted as a maskil of Asaph, but the description it contains is confusing. It could mean the Psalm is prophetic describing the destruction Nebuchadnezzar would bring on the Temple. The other option is the Psalm was written by a man named Asaph after Israel returns from captivity. The Psalm is a called a maskil which means it is a "golden psalm" and is intended to be instructional.

Asaph begins by addressing God with questions about why he has rejected Israel and directed his anger at them. He reminds God that the people he saved have been attacked by his foes in the place where Israel had worshiped him. He goes on to describe the destruction of the Temple and the humiliation of Israel. He laments that God has given no sign of hope and they are destitute. The prophets were all killed. 

Asaph cites no signs of hope, but he retains his faith that God is still able to restore Israel. In vs. 12, he launches into a list of God's acts that saved them in the past. In vs. 22, he implores God to show his power again: "Rise up, O God, Defend your cause." He does not doubt God's authority or ability to rescue Israel from His adversaries.

Psalms 75

A Psalm of Asaph. To the tune of "Do Not Destroy." A song.

This Psalm opens with an invocation of praise. 

Very quickly, Asaph quotes God with His affirmation of power and control and warnings to the arrogant. No one can boast in God's presence. Asaph echoes His claim. 

Moreover, God holds a cup the wicked will drink from. They will consume it to the dregs, but the Horn of the righteous will be lifted up. We have the chance to choose where will be at that time.