According to the Mishnah (Jewish book), certain psalms were recited on certain days of the week in the Temple and would have been in Jesus’ time:
The following are the Psalms that were chanted in the Temple. On the first day, they used to say, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24). On the second day, they used to say, "Great is the Lord and highly to be praised, in the city of our God, His Holy mountain" (Psalm 48). On the third day, they used to say, "God standeth in the congregation of God, in the midst of the judges He judgeth" (Psalm 82). On the fourth day, they used to say, "O Lord, Thou God to whom vengeance belongeth, shine forth" (Psalm 94). On the fifth day, they used to say, "Sing aloud unto God our strength, shout aloud to the God of Jacob" (Psalm 81). On the sixth day, they used to say, "A Psalm. A song for the sabbath day (Psalm 92). A Psalm, a song for the time to come, for the day that will be all sabbath and rest for everlasting life."
BTW - Today you are 1/2 way through!
There are mysteries in the Psalms that we can miss without the help and enlightenment of others. Some have to do with the original Hebrew and others have to do with a poetry structure that can be missed or lost in translation. Psalm 78 is a strange one because the entire Psalm is broken into segments of 11. On top of the 11 structure, there is a mysterious 7 and 77 that show up as well.
Without confusing you, Psalm 78 has 77 verse lines (not our added verses numbers). There are 38 verse lines on one side and 38 verselines on the other. In our text, it is verse 35. Psalm 78 is smack dab in the middle of the 11 Asaph psalms and all the verselines of all the Asaph Psalms center on our verse 35! Verse 35 is the central theme and focal point of all 11 Psalms and if you read it…it is the big idea of all the Psalms…God is their rock and redeemer!
It gets much deeper and interesting than that, but just know that as you read these psalms there are mysteries, many we have only begun to unravel!
We are in a grouping of Psalms that are attributed to Asaph and not David. There is not a lot we know about Asaph, but here is what I have been able to find out about him.
•He was a Levite, part of the priestly class.
•He was one of the leaders of David's choir (1 Chr. 6:39).
•Psalms 50 and 73-83 inclusive are attributed to him.
•He is mentioned along with David as skilled in music, and a “seer” (2 Chr. 29:30).
•The “sons of Asaph,” mentioned in 1 Chr. 25:1, 2 Chr. 20:14, and Ezra 2:41, were his descendants, or more probably a class of poets or singers who recognized him as their master.
If you do a Google search, you will discover an Asaph Music School an Asaph Music Company and a half a dozen other Asaph related ministries.
I think Psalm 73 is just a relevant today as it was 300+ years ago. Asaph was asking the same questions we all ask. Why is it that we believe that being a follower of Christ will make life on earth less of a struggle and full of riches and material blessing? The truth is that those that do not follow God are the ones who have the corner market on pleasure, luxury and wealth. Look at the realities in Asaph’s day and compare it to today.
1.They had great wealth
2.All their needs were met
3.They were physically healthy
4.They could buy their way out of suffering and difficulty
5.they were proud of their accomplishments and abilities and saw that pride as a strength of character
6.They got away with being uncaring and cruel because of their power
7.No lust was ever denied
8.Nothing that builds up others ever comes out of their lips
9.They look to crush others
10.They deny God’s existence
11.They have great power and people listen to them intently
a.Reminds me of the actors today
12.“Look at these wicked people— enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.”
What do you think?
Psalm 73 is my favorite Psalm, for a few reasons. First off, it was the subject of my first message I ever preached. I was so nervous. I had been teaching youth for years and spoken at youth gatherings of over 500 students, but this was the first time I preached in “big church”. Secondly, my Grandmother who I loved dearly and was a big part of my faith journey flew from California to Sioux Falls just to hear it. It was the worst sermon ever! Last year on January, 8 2008, I preached it again. I felt I needed to reconnect with the beginning. Though my Grandmother has passed on, it felt good to know that she was there for my first message and would be proud of my growth over the years. I hope you enjoy Psalm 73 as much as I do.
Take a look at the middle of psalm 69. David has a harsh request and one might even say a curse for his enemies in verses 22-28. Jesus said to love our enemies and Paul said we are to feed them when they are hungry? What then are we to make of these many examples of David wishing such harm on these people? There is a truth about God that is much harder to understand than it seems on a first look. God hates sin but loves the sinner. There is a distinction n and difference between sin and the person. God loves all and wishes that none would perish, but he will not tolerate sin. In other words, I should hate the atrocities of Hitler, but I should still mourn the loss of God’s plan in his life and soul for eternity. It is a difficult balancing act and requires a heart that is closely connected with God’s heart.
Do you ever feel like the first 4 verses in chapter 69? I know I do. Maybe if my faith were stronger or if I sinned less I would not feel this way. I have a hard time trusting God at times. I like to know the outcome before I jump, but God never promises that we will get to see how far the drop is before we are asked to step over the edge. There is something exhilarating to have no control and have to trust in God. But as much as I love the feel, I don’t like repeating it as often as I should. I need to remember that I’m never alone…God is always jumping tandem with me.
How are you doing with the Psalms? There sure are a lot of them. Aside from mentioning that he played the harp, you would not have guessed that he was such a prolific song writer and worship leader. Something tells me that these aren’t all of his songs; these are probably just his top 150. Each one tells a story or can be attached to a historical event that you’ve already read about.
Notice the introduction to Psalm 60. It says that it’s useful for teaching. The word teaching is miktam in the Hebrew. A miktam is either something made of gold, or a special teaching or something hidden. I’m sure there is something to learn or be taught in this psalm, but many Bible scholars think that there is a story hidden in Psalm 60. Feel free to do some research ion this one, it’s very fascinating!
This blog was originally written by Pastor Doug Bartel of Hillcrest Church, starting in Spring 2009. Keep that in mind if you read anything that doesn't quite add up to the time of year.