Postage £0.00

The Psalms Of Asaph - Introduction

I'm sure as we think of the book of Psalms, the name of David is the one that immediately comes to our minds. We may remember David's lovely twenty third Psalm: "The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want Or we might recall the majestic 19th Psalm: "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork... " And there are 73 delightful Psalms of David, about half the 150 in our Bibles, each with its own beauty and character. Many of the remaining psalms are anonymous, but a little group of 12 are described as "Psalms of Asaph."

The purpose of this series is to comment briefly on some of them. In this first article I want to say a little about Asaph and his family. Firstly, in I Chronicles chapter 16 we read that David "appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD ... Asaph the chief," and others ~ with psalteries and with harps; and Asaph with cymbals, sounding aloud, and. .. the priests with trumpets continually, before the ark of the covenant of God."

Asaph lived in David's time. Of the priestly tribe of Levi, he was one who was set over the service of song in God's house. His role seemed to be that of leader of the musicians, a very responsible task in the worship at Jerusalem. We've read of "Asaph with cymbals, sounding aloud" and the loud note of the cymbals played by the chief of the musicians would remind the worshippers of God's great power and glory. But always, the cymbals would blend with the music of the psalteries and harps, whose sweeter notes. would bring thoughts of God's kindness and love. And so it is in Asaph's psalms: the appreciation of God's

greatness is never absent, but the gracious tones of His dealings with a weak and sinful people are always clearly audible. As at the place of worship, so in the Psalms, the silver trumpet call is continuous. These psalms demand a response; they call loudly and clearly to each of our hearts.

A few years later at that high point in Israel's history, the dedication of Solomon's temple, we again read of Asaph, "the Levites which were the singers

Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and their brethren, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them 120 priests sounding with trumpets" (2 Chron. 5:12).

Notice the position of great honour Asaph's family had - at the East and of the altar. What a privilege to worship in that beautiful house with its gold and precious stones; but much more than that, with the Lord's glory filling it! So, Asaph's thoughts may be helpful to us in our worship. The Lord Jesus Himself showed how really important worship is when He said ~... the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be His worshippers" (John 4:23). Almighty God is seeking worshippers. How challenging to us! In comparing our worship with that of Old Testament times, Paul states in the Hebrew epistle "Christ (has) come a High Priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands" (Heb. 9:11). Our place of worship is described as "greater and more perfect" than the former tabernacle. The linen garments that Asaph wore may remind us of the perfections of the Lord Jesus, our High Priest. Without Him we could never dare to approach God. However, clothed in Christ's righteousness, God can look at you and me and see the beauty and sinlessness of His beloved Son.

For our final glimpse at Asaph's family, we look at Nehemiah's book. Since the glorious days of Solomon's reign, long years of moral and religious decline had been followed by captivity in far away Babylon. In Nehemiah 7, in the list of children of the province whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away and that returned to Jerusalem and Judah are included the singers, the children of Asaph,


Many of the captives were content to remain in the comparative luxury of heathen Babylon rather than risk the hazards of the long journey to Jerusalem and the rigours of life in a ruined city with enemies on every side. How lovely that the godly dedication of Asaph so long before was seen in no less than 148 of his descendants. "How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?" (Ps. 137:4) had been their thought in Babylon, and now they were returning, that their songs of praise might again ascend to God from the place of His choosing the Temple in Jerusalem.