Psalm 73, 77, 78
Psalms 73-89 (although we will not be reading them in this order, but chronologically) were written to celebrate the sovereignty of God, see HIS hand in history, HIS faithfulness, and HIS covenant with David. They are also a reminder to us that our worship of God should be continual. God KNOWs us. HE KNOWS our lives. A praise song in the shower….a thank you while we are driving…a grateful heart as we give HIM thanks for our food, for our finances, our jobs, our families, our spouses, our church, our pastor… EVERYTHING. It doesn’t have to be long, complicated, or using certain words. God LOVES it when we praise HIM and thank HIM in our own words…from our hearts.
The author of each of these Psalms today is Asaph. Asaph means “gatherer.” He was from the tribe of Levi and David chose him to be one of the chief singers (1 Chronicles 16:5), and was later celebrated as a poet and prophet.
Each of these Psalms touched my heart. WHO hasn’t felt the way Asaph expressed, but in each of these Psalms he returns our focus to our God.
Psalm 73 — We all know people who are downright evil, yet prosper in worldly ways. HOWEVER, appearances can be deceiving, some people we encounter are simply having really bad days. He begins with “SURELY God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.” He makes his observations: “I envied the arrogant…prosperity of wicked…they have no struggles…healthy and strong…free from burdens of common man…..pride is their necklace…clothe themselves in violence….callous hearts…scoff….speak with malice.” In verse 23 Asaph returns to: “YET I am always with YOU; YOU hold me by my righthand.” I LOVE verse 24-25- “YOU guide me with your council, and afterward YOU will take me into glory….and earth has NOTHING I desire besides YOU.” And in verse 28 we are reminded in the midst of all that is around us–“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of your deeds.”
Psalm 77 — “I cried out to God for help….my soul refused to be comforted.” I certainly have felt that way. Apparently Asaph felt this way due to doubt (77:7-9) BUT… as Asaph speaks honestly with God, HE begins to turn from doubt to WORSHIP. He REMEMBERED the deeds of The Lord. He meditated on ALL HIS works. Then we read : “YOUR ways O GOD are HOLY!! WHAT god is so great as OUR GOD?” It is so easy to get lost as we observe the many things that go on in our daily lives. Life is hard. BUT God has given us gifts far greater than anything we could imagine…the love of family, the love of a spouse, the love of animals, provisions for daily survival, miracles in our lives, but MOST… HE gave us HIS ONE and ONLY son so that we could have life eternal with HIM AND live the abundant life right here…right now…in the midst of all that goes on around us that is “not fair, not right, not moral, not ethical, not part of God’s Word.” He ALWAYS gives us the way to change our focus.
Psalm 78 — Once again Asaph retells the history of the Jewish nation from the time of slavery in Egypt to David’s reign. He is telling this to help people remember their past and where they had come from and WHO saved them. He is telling this so future generations do not forget ALL God did for the Israelites. Paul used this classic story in 1 Corinthians 10:5-12 to warn the early Christians to be faithful. We are reminded in the Psalm that because of David’s faith and obedience, God chose Jerusalem in Judah to be the place for the new temple and rejected Ephraim. Ephraim was one of the sons of Joseph. He was given a huge amount of land. The tension between these two tribes was great and possibly the reason Asaph wrote this Psalm. Yet we are reminded that God works through those who are faithful to HIM… who love HIM with all their hearts, souls, minds, and obey Him (no idols, no other gods before him, etc.)
I LOVE the last verses: “HE chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to the the shepherd of his people Jacob of Israel his inheritance, And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.
I am deeply touched that God used the humble beginnings of David, beginnings where David had great responsibilities, he praised God continually, he prayed to him and continually spoke to HIM, he used what he had to protect his sheep from the bears and lions, he knew what his sheep needed and he took good care of them. THOSE very skills were the skills God used to lead HIS people. God knows our strengths and how, if we are willing, to use them for HIS KINGDOM.