Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Psalms of Asaph

Goulder read the Psalms of Asaph looking for a solution to the formation of the Pentateuch. He postulated, inter alia, an origin in Northern Israel in the decade 732-722 BCE for these psalms which he believes were edited later for use in Jerusalem after 722. My reading is less ambitious.

These 12 public psalms are interesting in ways not previously appreciated. Psalm 74 describes the burning of the Temple. In Psalm 77, the psalmist remembers God’s redeeming of his people in Exodus. The Temple is defiled in Psalm 79 and the army slaughtered. In Psalm 80, the vine is burned and cut down. Psalm 50 is a demand for national repentance. In Psalm 50 and 81, the enemy is menacing. In Psalm 78, the people are asked to remember his wondrous works. Behind all of these psalms, the fear of national catastrophe exists but none imply the loss of national sovereignty.

Collectively, the Psalms of Asaph were written in the face of national military crisis as a sequence of calls to repentance, of laments, of prayers of confidence and appeals to the divine covenant. Like all of the prophets, Jesus believed that if he issued his call for repentance, made his laments, prayers and appeals, the coming destruction could be averted. Perhaps the predictive prophecy of Jesus should be considered in the light of the Psalms of Asaph. In Matthew and Mark, after the traditional calls of John the Baptist, repentance disappears as a theme because they knew that Jerusalem was already history and talking about repentance would not save the city and the Temple.

“Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I rend, and there be none to deliver!” Ps 50:22.

“Remember thy congregation, which thou hast gotten of old, which thou hast redeemed to be the tribe of thy heritage!” Ps 74:2.

“They set thy sanctuary on fire; to the ground they desecrated the dwelling place of thy name.” Ps 74:7

“I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought.” Ps 78:2-4.

“O God, the heathen have come into thy inheritance; they have defiled thy holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.”
Ps 79:1.

“They have shed their blood like water on every side of Jerusalem and there was no one to bury them.” Ps 79:3.

“There is no more any prophet.” Ps 74:9.

“Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people,

the sons of Jacob and Joseph.” Ps 77:16

The Psalms of Asaph not only inspired Jesus but also provided a source for Luke.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007


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