Worship Yahweh (Ps 96:7-96:9)

“Ascribe to Yahweh!

O families of the peoples!

Ascribe to Yahweh

Glory and strength!

Ascribe to Yahweh

The glory due his name!

Bring an offering!                                             

Come into his courts!

Worship Yahweh in holy splendor!

Tremble before him!

All the earth!”

This is a universal call for all people to worship Yahweh. They were to recognize his glory and his strength. They were to acknowledge the glory of his name. They were to bring offerings to the court of Yahweh with their best garments on them. All the earthly humans should tremble before him.

Happy are the people (Ps 89:15-89:18)

“Happy are the people

Who know the festal shout.

Happy are the people

Who walk in the light of your countenance.

Yahweh!

Happy are the people

Who exalt in your name all day long.

Happy are the people

Who extol your righteousness.

You are the glory of their strength.

By your favor our horn is exalted.

Our shield belongs to Yahweh,

Our king,

The holy one of Israel.”

The people are happy when they are able to shout at the festivals, when they walk in the light of Yahweh. They are happy when they exalt the name of Yahweh all day long. They extol Yahweh’s righteousness. They glory in his strength, since the horn was a symbol of strength. They were happy with their shield, the king who was the holy one of Israel.

Yahweh helps against the impious men (Ps 86:14-86:17)

“O God!

The insolent rise up against me.

A band of ruthless men seek my life.

They do not set you before them.

Yahweh!

You are a God merciful and gracious.

You are slow to anger.

You abound in steadfast love.

You abound in faithfulness.

Turn to me.

Be gracious to me.

Give your strength to your servant.

Save the child of your serving girl.

Show me a sign of your favor.

Thus those who hate me may see.

May they be put to shame.

Yahweh!

You have helped me.

You have comforted me.”

This psalm ends with David asking God to be merciful and gracious because impious people were after him, seeking his life. Yahweh was slow to anger and full of steadfast love. He wanted Yahweh to save him with his strength. He wanted a sign of Yahweh’s favor. He wanted his haters put to shame. He was relying on Yahweh, who had helped and comforted him.

The call to listen (Ps 78:1-78:4)

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.

I was stupid (Ps 73:21-73:26)

“When my soul was embittered,

When I was pricked in heart,

I was stupid.

I was ignorant.

I was like a brute beast toward you.

Nevertheless I am continually with you.

You hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel.

Afterward you will receive me with honor.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

There is nothing on earth

That I desire other than you.

My flesh may fail.

My heart may fail.

But God is the strength of my heart.

God is my portion forever.”

This psalmist Asaph says that he was stupid and ignorant when he had these strange thoughts about the prosperous wicked people. He was acting like a brutal beast toward God. However, God led him by the hand and gave him counsel. God then honored him. There was no one else in heaven besides God who could help him. There was nothing on this earth that he desired. His heart and his flesh might fail, but God remained his strength and portion forever.

The old man’s prayer (Ps 71:7-71:11)

“I have been as a portent to many.

You are my strong refuge.

My mouth is filled

With your praise.

My mouth is filled

With your glory all the day.

Do not cast me off

In the time of old age.

Do not forsake me

When my strength is spent.

My enemies speak concerning me.

Those who watch for my life

Consult together.

They say.

‘God has forsaken him.

Pursue and seize that person.

There is no one to deliver him.’”

This psalmist was like a threat to many, but God was his strong refuge. All day long he was filled with praise and glory to God. He did not want God to cast him aside in his old age. His strength was decreasing. People were out to get him. They said that God had forsaken him. Thus they wanted to pursue him and take hold of him. This old man asked for God’s help.

Yahweh gives strength of David (Ps 18:1-18:3)

To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David, the servant of Yahweh, who addressed the words of this song to Yahweh on the day when Yahweh delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.

He said.

‘I love you!

Yahweh!

My strength!

Yahweh is my rock.

Yahweh is my fortress.

Yahweh is my deliverer.

My God!

My rock!

I take refuge in God.

Yahweh is my shield.

Yahweh is the horn of my salvation.

Yahweh is my stronghold.

I call upon Yahweh.

He is worthy to be praised.

I shall be saved from my enemies.’”

Psalm 18 is a very long psalm with a long introduction. It portrays the final victory of David against all his enemies, especially Saul. This is almost identical to the canticle or song of David in 2 Samuel, chapter 22. Thus it is a royal psalm of thanksgiving. These first few phrases, including the introduction, are almost word for word from 2 Samuel. What a beautiful introduction. He loved Yahweh. Yahweh, his God, was his strength, his rock, and his fortress in whom he took refuge. God was his shield, his horn, his stronghold, and his savior. David was saved from his enemies. Surely Yahweh was worthy to be praised.