The father of Rehoboam.
The father of Abijah.
The father of Asaph.
The father of Jehoshaphat.
The father of Joram.”
Σολομὼν δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ῥοβοάμ, Ῥοβοὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀβιά, Ἀβιὰ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀσάφ, Ἀσὰφ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωσαφάτ, Ἰωσαφὰτ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωράμ.
I Chronicles, chapter 3 lists the kings of Judah, based on 1 Kings and 2 Kings. Based on those 2 books, there was no disruption in the lineage of David via Solomon to all the kings of Judah before the Exile, since there were no revolutions in the southern kingdom of Judah. The son of Solomon (Σολομὼν) was Rehoboam (Ῥοβοάμ) who ruled from about 931-913 BCE. His son Abijah (Ἀβιά,) or Abijam ruled from about 913-911 BCE. His son Asaph (Ἀσάφ) or Asa ruled from about 911-870 BCE. His son Jehoshaphat (Ἰωσαφάτ) ruled from about 870-848 BCE. His son Joram (Ἰωράμ) or Jehoram ruled from about 848-841 BCE. The Greek text used the term “begat” (ἐγέννησεν) to represent the relationships between these 5 men. However, it seems perfectly acceptable to simply call them the father instead of saying “fathered them.” Now there was a gap in this genealogy from 841-781 BCE, since there was no mention of Ahaziah, Azariah or Jehoahaz who only ruled for less than a year in 741 BCE. Actually, his mother Athaliah, ruled for about 6 years until her grandson Joash or Jehoash ruled from about 835-796 BCE. Joash’s son, Amaziah ruled from about 796-781 BCE. Perhaps this gap in the chronology of the kings was done to keep the numbers down to 14.
A psalm of Asaph
“God has taken his place in the divine council.
In the midst of the gods he holds judgment.
‘How long will you judge unjustly?
How long will you show partiality to the wicked?’”
Psalm 82 is simply one in the series of psalms of Asaph, the Temple singer. The ancient Near East believed that the world was ruled by a series of gods, which was also the Greek and Roman concepts of divinity. Here God sits with his council, sometimes referred to as the angels. Speaking in God’s name was the Temple priest or prophet. God’s judgment questions were clear. Why were they judging unjustly? Why were they partial to the wicked ones? This section ends once again with the musical meditative interlude pause of Selah.
To the choirmaster leader, according to the Gittith, a psalm of Asaph
“Sing aloud to God!
Shout for joy
To the God of Jacob!
Raise a song!
Sound the tambourine!
Sound the sweet lyre!
Sound the harp!
Blow the trumpet
At the new moon,
At the full moon,
On our feast day.
It is a statute for Israel.
It is an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
He made it a decree in Joseph,
When he went out
Over the land of Egypt.”
Once again, Psalm 81 is a choral psalm on a Gittith or stringed instrument. Of course it is in this series of Asaph psalms, who was a Temple singer. They were to sing aloud with joy to the God of Jacob. They were to play on the tambourine, the lyre, and the harp. They were to blow the trumpet at the new moon, the full moon, and the feast day. This was a statute of Israel and an ordinance of the God of Jacob. This was the decree that came from tribe of Joseph as they left Egypt.
To the choirmaster, according to Lilies, a testimony of Asaph, a psalm
O shepherd of Israel!
You lead Joseph like a flock!
You are enthroned upon the cherubim!
Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh!
Stir up your might!
Come to save us!”
Psalm 80 is another choral psalm of Asaph, a transcriber or author of psalms at the time of David and Solomon, a Temple singer at the time of Solomon during the transport of the Ark of the Covenant. This psalm is set to the tune of the lilies, much like Psalm 45 and Psalm 69. This is an attempt of the northern tribes of Israel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh to have God come to their aid. Notice the importance of Joseph here. Remember that those northern Israel tribes were sent to captivity before the people in Jerusalem and Judah. This psalmist wanted the shepherd of Israel to listen and shine before the northern tribes. The God of Israel sat on the cherubim in the holy of holies. He wanted God to stir up his might and thus save them from their captivity.
A psalm of Asaph
The nations have come into your inheritance.
They have defiled your holy temple.
They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants
To the birds of the air for food.
The flesh of your faithful has been given
To the wild animals of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water,
All around Jerusalem.
There was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbors.
We are mocked.
We are derided
By those around us.”
Psalm 79 is another psalm of Asaph. This national lamentation deplores the defeat and ruin of Jerusalem and its Temple, probably at the time of the captivity around 587 BCE. The bodies of the faithful were given over to the birds of the air and the wild animals. Their blood was all around Jerusalem. No one was there to bury them. The Israelites had become a taunt to their neighbors. They were mocked and derided by everybody around them.
“In the sight of their ancestors,
He worked marvels.
In the land of Egypt,
In the fields of Zoan,
He divided the sea.
He let them pass through it.
He made the waters stand like a heap.
In the daytime,
He led them with a cloud.
All night long
He led them with a fiery light.
He split rocks open in the wilderness.
He gave them drink abundantly.
As from the deep,
He made streams come out of a rock.
He caused waters to flow down like rivers.”
Asaph, this psalmist, then laid out the history of God’s activity as the Israelites left Egypt by passing through the Red Sea. The city of Zoan was another name for the Egyptian city of Ramses. God made the waters into a big heap so that the Israelites could pass through the waters. He led then during the day with a cloud and at night, he led them with a fiery light. He gave them water in the desert by making water come from the rocks like streams or rivers. Most of this is based on the stories in Exodus, chapters 14-17.
Armed with the bow,
Turned back on the day of battle.
They did not keep God’s covenant.
They refused to walk according to his law.
They forgot what he had done.
They forgot the miracles
That he had shown them.”
In a strange twist, Asaph, this psalmist, blames the failure of the Israelites on the Ephraimites, the descendents of Joseph. Within the biblical literature there does not appear to be mention of this specific incident. He seems to say that they would not fight. Interesting enough, this hints at the breakup between Judah and Israel, where the northern Israelites slowly became the Samaritans. Ephraim, the son of Joseph was one of the northern tribes that were not part of Judah. They did not keep God’s covenant. They refused to walk according to his laws. They seem to have forgotten all the miracles that God had done for them and the other Israelites.
“Yahweh established a decree in Jacob.
He appointed a law in Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
To teach their children.
Thus the next generation might know them,
The children yet unborn.
Thus they might rise up.
They then could tell them to their children.
Therefore they should set their hope in God.
They should not forget the works of God.
They should keep his commandments.
They should not be like their ancestors.
They were a stubborn and rebellious generation.
They were a generation
Whose heart was not steadfast.
They were a generation
Whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
In recalling the introduction of the law to Jacob or Israel, Asaph, the psalmist, reminded his audience that their ancestors were not that faithful to the law. There are no specific incidents cited. What was indicated clearly was that they were supposed to teach the law to their children just as their ancestors had done for them. This may be a reference to the “shema” love of God law in Deuteronomy, chapter 6. There is no direct reference to Moses and the 10 Commandments. In one sense, this may be an indication of a non-written oral law that was passed on by word of mouth in an oral tradition. They should set their hope in God. They should remember his great works. In a twist of fate, he reminds them not to be like their ancestors, who were stubborn and rebellious. They did not have steadfast love of God, nor was their spirit faithful to God. This paints a bleak picture of their ancestors. The works of Exodus and Deuteronomy show the so-called warts of their ancestors.
A Maskil of Asaph
“O my people!
Give ear to my teaching!
Incline your ears
To the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable.
I will utter dark sayings from of old.
These are the things
That we have heard and known.
Our ancestors have told us these things.
We will not hide them from their children.
We will tell them to the coming generation.
These are the glorious deeds of Yahweh,
These show his might.
These are the wonders that he has done.”
Psalm 78 is one of these long didactic psalms that relate the whole history of the Israelite people, like Psalms 105 and 106 as well as Psalms 135 and 136. This psalm is also a maskil of Asaph as the others in this series. We will learn the lessons of Israelite history, with a special emphasis on particular favorite heroes. There is an initial call to listen with care to the teaching of this psalmist, Asaph. He was going to speak in parables like the wisdom writers. These are the stories that were passed on to him by his ancestors. Now he was not going to hide it from the current children and the generations yet to come. All this shows the glorious deeds of Yahweh and his strength in the wonders that he has done for Israel.
‘It is my grief
That the right hand of the Most High has changed.’
I will call to mind the deeds of Yahweh.
I will remember your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all your work.
I will muse on your mighty deeds.
Your way is holy!
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who works wonders.
You have displayed your might among the peoples.
With your strong arm
You redeemed your people,
The descendents of Jacob and Joseph.”
Asaph, the psalmist, admitted that he was full of grief. He felt that God had changed his right hand over him. Thus he recalled the great works of God that he had performed for him in the good old days. He meditated on his great deeds. There was no other god like his God, who worked wonders. He had redeemed his people with a strong arm. His people were the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Notice the mention of Joseph, which is rare. This section ends with the meditative musical interlude pause of Selah.