Personal prayer to Yahweh (Ps 142:1-142:3)

A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave, a prayer

“With my voice

I cry to Yahweh!

With my voice

I make supplication to Yahweh!

I pour out my complaint before him.

I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit is faint,           

You know my way!”

Psalm 142 is a maskil or wisdom song of David, when he was in the cave. There is no explicit mention of an incident in the life of David where he was being persecuted in a cave. He may have been hiding out when he was trying to escape from King Saul. There is no doubt that it is a personal lament to Yahweh. David cries with his voice to Yahweh as he makes his supplications or complaints. He was telling Yahweh his troubles because his spirit was weak or faint. Yahweh knew David so that made him hopeful.

Prayer for help (Ps 88:1-88:2)

A song, a psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster leader, according to Mahalath Leannoth, a Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite

“Yahweh!

God of my salvation!

At night,

I cry out in your presence!

Let my prayer come before you!

Incline your ear to my cry!”

Psalm 88 is a psalm of the sons of Korah, the Temple singers. However, this Mahalath Leannoth refers to some kind of musical instrument for those who were sick. On top of that this is called a maskil of Heman, the Ezrahite. Who is he? He may have been a grandson of Samuel, the man called Heman appointed by David to be a Temple Singer in 1 Chronicles, chapter 6. However, there he is called a Kohathite, not an Ezrahite. This is a cry of desperation. God is his salvation. He cries all night in the presence of God. He wanted his prayers to come to God. In the classical sense he wanted God’s ear to listen to his cry.

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.

Do not forget us (Ps 74:1-74:3)

A Maskil of Asaph

“O God!

Why do you cast us off forever?

Why does your anger smoke

Against the sheep of your pasture?

Remember your congregation!

You acquired it long ago.

You redeemed it.

It was to be the tribe of your heritage.

Remember Mount Zion!

There you came to dwell.

Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins!

The enemy has destroyed everything

In the sanctuary.”

Like the preceding psalm, Psalm 74 is a Maskil or psalm of Asaph, the Temple singer, part of the series that begins book 3 of the psalms. This appears to be a national lamentation, post-exilic, after the destruction of the Temple. This starts out as a cry for help. Asaph wants to know why God has cast them off forever. Why was God angry at his own sheep? God should remember his congregation that he acquired long ago. He had redeemed this tribe at Mount Zion to be his heritage as he dwelt there. Somehow the idea that God lived in the Temple was a common theme. However, here was the problem. The Temple was in ruins, destroyed by the enemy. Everything in the sanctuary had been destroyed. What is the exact reference? Was this the Babylonian captivity?

Cry for help to God (Ps 55:1-55:3)

To the choirmaster leader with stringed instruments, a Maskil of David

“Give ear to my prayer!

O God!

Do not hide yourself from my supplication!

Attend to me!

Answer me!

I am troubled in my complaint.

I am distraught,

By the noise of the enemy,

Because of the clamor of the wicked,

They bring trouble upon me.

In anger,

They cherish enmity against me.”

Psalm 55 is a prayer of David.  He felt that he was being persecuted and betrayed.  Once again this is a choral psalm with stringed instruments attributed to David.  David wanted God to hear his prayer and not hide from him.  He wanted an answer right away.  He was in trouble and distraught because of his enemies, a common theme of these psalms.  The wicked enemies were out to get him.  He was going to call on God to help him.

The atheist is a fool (Ps 53:1-53:1)

To the choirmaster leader, according to Mahalath, a Maskil of David

“Fools say in their hearts.

‘There is no God.’

They are corrupt.

They commit abominable acts.

There is no one who does good.”

Psalm 53 is another short psalm, much like Psalm 14.  At times, they are almost word for word the same.  This title has the choirmaster leader, a maskil or song of David, but there is an additional comment about “according to Mahalath,” which is also mentioned at the beginning of Psalm 88.  Although of uncertain meaning, Mahalath was the name of a wife of Esau and Rehoboam, here it probably refers to some kind of stringed instrument like a guitar.  This first verse is exactly the same as the first verse of Psalm 14.  Once again the question is posed what if there is no God.  The answer was simple.  Only a fool would say such a thing.  There was an ancient common belief in some kind of higher power.  Actually they only say this in their hearts that there is no God, since they are practical atheists.  They act as if there is no God.  They are the corrupt people who do terrible deeds.  None of them do good deeds.

My tongue is like a pen (Ps 45:1-45:1)

To the choirmaster, according to Lilies, a Maskil of the Korahites a love song

“My heart overflows with a goodly theme.

I address my verses to the king.

My tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.”

This psalm is like a love song at a royal wedding. It is obviously a choral song. Once again, it is like the preceding psalms, this is a Maskil of the sons of Korah, who were first mentioned in 1 Chronicles, chapter 9. There name appears on 11 psalms, 3 of them right here. The melody for this must have been like the tune about the lilies, perhaps a 6th chord. Psalm 69 has the same melody. The psalmist said that his heart was overflowing with goodness. This is clearly not David. He was addressing these verses to the king. His tongue was a pen so that he was a worthy scribe.