Summary: Book III of the Psalms, a collection formalized at the time of the Exile, features the teaching psalms (maskil) of Asaph, a Levite who led a choir that praised God.
LESSONS FOR LIVING
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds” (Ps. 77:11–12).
Book III of the Psalms, a collection formalized at the time of the Exile, features the teaching psalms (maskil) of Asaph, a Levite who led a choir that praised God.
Asaph shared lessons for living in psalms which explore jealousy of prosperous wicked (Ps. 73), and puzzlement over the silence of God (Ps. 74). He proclaimed God as near (Ps. 75) and as known through His people (Ps. 76). And Asaph celebrated the LORD as a God of miracles (Ps. 77), of whom we learn through Israel’s history (Ps. 78).
Understanding the Text
“Why have You rejected us forever?” Ps. 74:1–2. The psalm posed a question that each of us is driven to ask at times. Why is God silent? Why hasn’t He acted? Why does He seem to reject His people?
“Your foes” Ps. 74:3–8. In powerful images the poet described the ruin of the sanctuary in Jerusalem in 587 B.C. The defeat of Judah seemed to the psalmist to have been an attack on God Himself.
“We are given no miraculous signs” Ps. 74:9–11. Why, then, did God permit the enemy to mock Him? Why did God hold back, and not destroy them? Asaph questioned, but had no answer to offer. The silence of God was beyond explanation.
What are we to do when we too feel crushed, puzzled, and anguished because God permits us to suffer? Asaph had one suggestion only.
“But You, O God, are my King” Ps. 74:12–23. That suggestion is to affirm God as Sovereign, to remember His mighty acts in history, and to call on Him to defend His people and His cause.
We can never explain a present silence of God. But we can always remember that God has spoken in the past, and will speak again. Then, reassured by a fresh vision of how great our God is, we can continue—to wait.
“Your Name is near” Ps. 75:1–10. God’s name, standing here for His self-revelation, is “near” in two senses. (1) God is near now, for God upholds the moral pillars of the universe by raising some men up and bringing others down. His sovereignty is displayed in the fact that He chooses “the appointed time” for such judgments. (2) God is also near eschatologically, for a day is approaching when God will “cut off the horns [power] of all the wicked.”
“His name is great in Israel” Ps. 76:1–3. The people of Israel knew the true God, and exalted Him.