This week the readings finished the Psalms attributed to David, including 103, 108-110, 122, 124, 131, 133, 138-141, 143-145. David also appointed music leaders named Heman, Ethan, and Asaph, to whom the following Psalms are attributed: 88-89, 50, 73-82. We also picked back up with the historical narrative storyline in 1 Chronicles 29, 2 Chronicles 1, and 2 Kings 2-3.
The historical narratives at the end of this week’s passages detail the transfer of the kingship from David to his son Solomon, and the initial acts of Solomon as king. I’ll focus a bit on Solomon in next week’s blog post.
The main thing I wanted to address with this week’s Psalms have to do with the non-scripture aspects included regarding authorship. If you recall my post from last week, I mentioned how the Psalms have “titles” often associated with them and attributions of events and authors associated with the Psalm. These items were inserted by transcribers over the centuries. They must not be confused with the scriptures themselves (identified with the actual verse and chapter numbers.
An example of this comes from Psalm 74, with a few lines italicized by me.
O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture? Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage! Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary! Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place; they set up their own signs for signs. They were like those who swing axes in a forest of trees. And all its carved wood they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground. They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long. How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!
Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. You split open springs and brooks; you dried up ever-flowing streams.
Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.
Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs, and a foolish people reviles your name. Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever.
Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence. Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name.
Arise, O God, defend your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day! Do not forget the clamor of your foes, the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!
This psalm is identified as being a psalm of Asaph. Now, Asaph was a Levite who was alive during David’s reign and assigned by David to be a leader of corporate worship for the nation. Asaph is credited with authoring several of the Psalms. However, this particular psalm, even though attributed to Asaph, has several statements (italicized above) which would not have been likely to be written during David’s time because these statements reference events occurring much later in Israel’s history. This doesn’t invalidate this Psalm as scripture. It does however, call on the reader to be discerning about the notes and headings which lie outside of the actual scriptural text. In this case, attributing this Psalm to Asaph is reasonable if you consider it as associated with Asaph’s lineage, or with a tradition of types of Psalms such as Asaph wrote.
Another thing to keep in mind is this whole concept of reading the scriptures in chronological order. The order I am following is based on a particular publication of the New International Version of the Bible called The Chronological Bible. The editors of that Bible have made specific choices about the sequence of passages based on their research and understanding of biblical chronology. That is an editorial choice. In this particular case, had I been an editor of this version of the Bible, I might have chosen to insert this psalm at a time after the destruction of the temple and the exile of God’s people (as described later in 2 Chronicles).