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Monday, March 27, 2017

Psalms 76-80

Psalms 76

Psalms 76 is a song by Asaph to be accompanied by stringed instruments.

Asaph opens this Psalm with praise and exaltation of God. He names Jerusalem as God's home and his habitation as Mount Zion. He describes a scene after a battle where God was victorious. He broke the weapons brought against Him, and He stands radiant with light. The warriors lie defeated. The horses and chariots are still.

Asaph says God alone is to be feared. Who can stand before him when He is angry. He rose in judgment and the land was quiet. He saved the afflicted.

God's wrath against mankind brings praise to Him. Make vows to God and keep them. He breaks the spirit of rulers. He is feared by the kings of the earth.

Psalms 77

This Psalm is notable for several reasons. It was written by Asaph. It was written for Jeduthun (this may mean it was meant for Jeduthun's choir or for his direction). For more information about Jeduthun refer to 1 Chronicles 16.

Asaph begins the psalm pleading for God's help in a time of distress and weakness. He could not sleep and he was destitute and without resources. He felt he had been deserted by God.

In vs. 10 he remembers God's blessing and comfort from previous times. He begins to recite the blessings from God and reclaim strength from it. He began to reclaim the power of those former deeds. He proclaims God as the one who performs miracles. What God is like our God? 

As he reveres God, he begins to reclaim his strength from God and he remembers how God had led his people by the hands of Moses and Aaron.


Psalms 78

Psalms 78  is a maskil of Asaph.

This psalm is a historical account of Israel from the time they came out of Egypt to the kingship of David. Asaph recounts the major events and trials in Israel's history. He is amazed at God's deliverance of the rebellious people and also at their continuous disobedience. He cites the ways God tried to insulate them from error; the teaching from the priests and the instruction by the parents so that the next generation would not fall into sin.  

All this He offered to protect the people from the effects of sin and pollution, but they would not be loyal to him and refrain from worshipping idols. He did not totally destroy them. He was always ready to forgive and restore Israel. In vs. 57 he compared them to a faulty bow. They were unreliable. They did return to him when they saw His anger. He abandoned the Tabernacle at Shiloh and sent the Ark into captivity. The priests were put to the sword and the widows could not weep.

Asaph closes with the account of David, whom God took from the sheep pens, a man of integrity, to be the Shepherd of Israel.

Read this Psalm and recognize your own failures in the face of God's love and generosity toward you.


Psalms 79

Psalms 79 was written by Asaph.

This Psalm laments the destruction of Jerusalem. I don't know if the psalm was written by someone named Asaph at a time after the Israelites return from captivity, or if it was a prophetic writing composed in David's time. In either case, is it graphic and heart-felt. Dead bodies of the servants of the Lord are left as refuse. Asaph says they are objects of derision. He questions God. How long will you be angry?

He pleads for mercy repeating the question, "How long will you be angry?" He calls God's attention to the groans of the people who are the sheep of His pasture. He pleads for preservation and promises praise to God who can deliver vengeance.

Psalms 80

This Psalm of Asaph  is set to the tune of  "Lilies of the Covenant" with special note to the Director of Music.

This Psalm returns to the theme of destruction and conquest. Again, we don't know if it was written as a prophesy or a historical event. It is safe to assume the Asaph that served David did not live to see the conquest by Nebechadnezzar. I don't know what other event it could refer to.

Asaph cites destruction in several quarters. He pleads for God, the Shepherd of Israel, to come to help them. He calls on God to shine forth that they may be saved.

Then he prompts God with a question: How long will His anger smolder against them? They have eaten the bread of tears and drunk tears by the bowlful. They have been held in derision by their neighbors.

He returns to the plea that God would save them. He introduces a new metaphor: a vine from Egypt transplanted and nurturned to provide shade, but now the wall is broken and strangers pick its grapes. Boars will ravage it. Insects feed upon it. The root you planted has been burned. In verse 15 he menioned a son, but this can mean a branch has grown to sustain the vine. Maybe he means Solomon. 

He closes with a refrain that ran throughout the Psalm. Restore us Lord God Almighty, make your face to shine upon us , that we may
be saved.

Read it from the Bible to enjoy Asaph's words and emotions.