Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Daily reading assignment – Psalms 72-74
Three psalms make up our scripture reading today. Psalm 72 is believed to be David’s prayer for God’s blessings on the reign of his son Solomon; however, a careful study of the psalm brings me to believe it is ultimately a psalm describing the universal kingdom over which Christ will reign and is therefore a prophetic psalm to be fulfilled when Christ returns and sets up His righteous kingdom upon the earth (72:1-3, 7).
Solomon’s kingdom was a great kingdom; however, Christ’s future kingdom will span “from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (72:8). His will be a compassionate kingdom, “For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. 13 He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy” (72:12-13).
Psalm 73, introduced as “A Psalm of Asaph”, is followed by ten additional psalms attributed to him. Asaph was a priest and musician in David’s court (1 Chronicles 6:39; 15:19; 16:7) and the author of Psalms 50 and Psalms 73-83.
Psalm 73 is a psalm of praise to the LORD and a testimony of Asaph’s own journey of faith in the God of Israel. Asaph opens the psalm with an affirmation of God’s goodness: “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (73:1). Unlike sinful man of whom it is said, “there is none that doeth good” (Psalm 14:1; Romans 3:12), God is wholly, absolutely good and there is no evil or sin present in Him. God is always and only good to Israel and to those who are of “a clean heart” (meaning pure, innocent and sincere heart).
In his heart, Asaph remembered the promises of God and the goodness of the LORD; however, in the midst of trials he struggled when he saw the wicked prosper (73:2-14). The ungodly appeared to prosper while he faltered (73:13-14). In other words, Asaph’s heart told him one thing (“trust the LORD”), while his feelings cried, “It’s not fair!”
Asaph appeared ready to quit his ministry as the king’s musician until he weighed the consequences of his decision and the offense it might be to the younger generation (73:15-16). However, when Asaph entered the “the sanctuary of God” his perspective of the wicked and their end changed (73:17-20) and he confessed “my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins” (73:21). Understanding the prosperity of the wicked is temporal (73:27), Asaph’s faith in the LORD and his desire to serve Him were renewed (73:28).
“Maschil of Asaph” is the subtitle of Psalm 74 and is an instructive or reflective poem. Although attributed to “Asaph”, the content of the psalm describes the destruction of Jerusalem and temple (74:3, 6-8) that took place many years after David’s Asaph was dead. Psalm 74 was most likely penned by a descendant of Asaph.
While Psalm 73 described Asaph’s personal struggles, the focus of Psalm 74 is on Israel’s struggles as a nation. In the midst of numbering the nation’s sorrows and devastation (74:1-11), the psalmist recounts how God delivered Israel in past days (74:12-17) and cried out for the LORD to deliver His people (74:18-23).
Allow me to close by reflecting on Psalm 73 and Asaph’s renewed commitment to serve the LORD.
Although few will admit it, there are many who have known the temptation to say, “I quit!” and walk away from the burdens of marriage, family, friends, church and ministry. In fact, for a season the ones who walk out on responsibilities appear happy, giving little thought to the ripple of consequences that might follow in the wake of their decision. Driving Asaph’s motivation to continue his ministry was not only his love for the LORD and the king, but also his concern for how his decision would affect the next generation. Surely that is a concern every pastor, teacher and parent should share.
May the LORD, our family, friends and the generation to follow us find us faithful!
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith