A psalm of Asaph
“Truly God is good to the upright.
He is good to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me,
My feet had almost stumbled.
My steps had nearly slipped.”
The 3rd book of psalms begins with Psalm 73 from Asaph. In fact, there are 12 psalms attributed to Asaph, Psalm 50, and the next 11 psalms at the beginning of this 3rd book of psalms. Asaph was a transcriber or author of psalms at the time of David and Solomon. This may also refer to the group named after him who were musicians at the Temple. This Asaph is described in 1 Chronicles, chapter 6, as one who could trace his ancestors directly back to Levi. In 2 Chronicles, chapter 5, he is listed as a Temple singer at the time of Solomon during the transport of the Ark of the Covenant. This psalm seems to be a consideration of justice and why did the evildoers prosper much like in the book of Job. There is the common statement that God is good to the upright and the pure of heart. However, this Asaph has almost stumbled. He has almost slipped.
A psalm of Asaph
“The Mighty One,
He summons the earth
From the rising of the sun
To its setting.
Out of Zion,
The perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
Our God comes.
He does not keep silence.
Before him is a devouring fire.
A mighty tempest is all around him.
He calls to the heavens above.
He calls to the earth.
Thus he may judge his people.
‘Gather to me!
My faithful ones!
You made a covenant with me
The heavens declare his righteousness.
God himself is judge!”
This Psalm 50 is the first of 12 psalms ascribed to Asaph. Asaph was a transcriber or author of psalms at the time of David and Solomon. This may also refer to the group named after him that were musicians at the Temple. This Asaph is described in 1 Chronicles, chapter 6, as one who could trace his ancestors directly back to Levi. In 2 Chronicles, chapter 5, he is listed as a Temple singer at the time of Solomon during the transport of the Ark of the Covenant. This is a song of praise to the power of God, who is in charge of the earth. He has control of the rising and the setting of the sun. His beauty shines from Mount Zion. He has appeared as a devouring fire and a tempest. He has come to judge the people of earth from on high in heaven. He wanted the faithful ones who had made sacrifices to him to come closer to him. He was coming to judge them. With that it was time for another musical interlude pause, the Selah.
“After these things were reported to Jonathan and his brother Simon, they said.
‘The family of Jambri was celebrating a great wedding.
They were conducting the bride,
A daughter of one of the great nobles of Canaan,
From Nadabath with a large escort.’
They remembered how their brother John had been killed. They went up and hid under the cover of the mountains. They looked out and saw a tumultuous procession with a great amount of baggage. The bridegroom came out with his friends and his brothers to meet them with tambourines, musicians, and many weapons. Then they rushed upon them from the ambush. They began killing them. Many were wounded and fell. The rest fled to the mountains. The Jews took all their goods. Thus the wedding was turned into mourning. The voice of their musicians was turned into a funeral dirge. After they had fully avenged the blood of their brother, they returned to the marshes of the Jordan River.”
Jonathan and his brother Simon were upset about the attack and death of their brother John at the hands of the Jambri family. They saw that the Jambri family was celebrating a big wedding. One of daughters of a Canaanite was marrying a man from Jambri. They were having a great procession with tambourines and musicians. Jonathan, Simon, and his group attacked the wedding party. They wounded and killed some, while others fled. Their joyous wedding music turned into a mourning funeral dirge. After they avenged the blood of their brother, they returned to the marshes along the Jordan River.
“King David assembled all the leaders of Israel together with the priests and the Levites. The Levites, thirty years old and upward, were counted. The total was thirty-eight thousand. ‘Twenty-four thousand of these,’ David said, ‘shall have charge of the work in the house of Yahweh. Six thousand shall be officers and judges. Four thousand shall be gatekeepers. Four thousand shall offer praises to Yahweh with the instruments that I have made for praise. David organized them into three divisions, corresponding to the sons of Levi, Gershom, Kohath, and Merari.”
What seems strange here is that counting the Levites is not a bad thing when there was such chagrin in chapter 21 about the Davidic census that was Satan inspired. There were 38,000 Levite men over the age of 30. 24,000 were assigned to the house of Yahweh, the Temple. That small Temple would be teeming with Levites. 6,000 of the Levites would be officers and judges, which seems high but reasonable. 4,000 gatekeepers seems a little excessive. 4,000 Levites offering praise is high but not as bad as some of the other categories. King David once again used the 3 older categories of Levites, (1) Gershonites, (2) Kohathites, and (3) Merarites, the 3 sons that formed the Levi clans as in chapter 6 of this book.