At the doorstep of death (Ps 88:3-88:7)

“My soul is full of troubles.

My life draws near to Sheol.

I am counted

Among those who go down to the Pit.

I am like

Those who have no strength.

I am like

Those forsaken among the dead.

I am like

Those slain that lie in the grave.

I am like

Those whom you remember no more.

Thus they are cut off from your hand.

You have put me

In the depths of the Pit.

You have put me

In the regions dark and deep.

Your wrath lies heavy upon me.

You overwhelm me with all your waves.”

Selah

This psalmist is in bad shape, near death. He was full of troubles. He was counted as dead already. He was like a dead man with no one to help him. He was like a forsaken dead person that nobody cared about. No one remembered him. He sounds a little like Job. He was cut off from the hand of God as if he were already in the deepest pit in some dark area. God’s wrath had come upon him as he was overwhelmed with the waves. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.

Yahweh the record keeper of Zion (Ps 87:5-87:6)

“Of Zion,

It shall be said.

‘This one

And that one

Were born in it.’

Thus the Most High himself

Will establish it.

Yahweh records

As he registers the peoples.

‘This one was born there.’”

Selah

Apparently there is a long list of those born in Mount Zion, Jerusalem. Yahweh seems to have some kind of record of all that were born there. Yahweh has established this city on a hill, Mount Zion, the city of David. He seems to be like a massive accountant, keeping track of everyone born there. Finally, this section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.

Praise for Mount Zion (Ps 87:1-87:3)

A psalm of the Sons of Korah, a song

“On the holy mount

Stands the city he founded.

Yahweh loves the gates of Zion

More than all the dwelling places of Jacob.

Glorious things are spoken of you!

O city of God!”

Selah

Psalm 87 is in the Korahite tradition, the Temple singers. This is a short song of praise about Mount Zion in Jerusalem, as the mother of all people. This psalm seems to indicate that Yahweh founded this city. It is no longer the city of David, but the city of God, that became the inspiration of the Christan Augustine in the fourth century CE for his work of the same name. Yahweh loved this city more than any other dwelling place of Jacob. Thus it became the center of Israel. Glorious things have been spoken about this place which is now the city of God. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.

A prayer to Yahweh (Ps 85:1-85:2)

To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of the Sons of Korah

“Yahweh!

You were favorable to your land!

You restored the fortunes of Jacob.

You forgave the iniquity of your people.

You pardoned all their sin.”

Selah

Psalm 85 is another in the choral psalms of the Korahites, the Temple singers. This prayer to Yahweh thanks him for being favorable to the land of Jacob. Yahweh had restored the fortunes of Jacob, thus indicating a return from captivity. Yahweh has forgotten their iniquities. He has pardoned their sins. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.

The happy ones in Zion (Ps 84:5-84:8)

“Happy are those

Whose strength is in you!

Happy are those

In whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca,

They make it a place of springs.

The early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength.

The God of gods will be seen in Zion.

Yahweh!

God of hosts!

Hear my prayer!

Give ear!

O God of Jacob!”

Selah

The happy people are those who put their strength in Yahweh. The happy people are on their way to Zion. Even when they are in the valleys, there will be springs of water and gentle early morning rains. They go from strength to the strength of Yahweh, who is the God of gods, as if there were other false gods. Then there are the pleas for the God of Jacob, Yahweh, to give an ear and listen to his prayers. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.

The home of Yahweh (Ps 84:3-84:4)

“Even the sparrow finds a home.

The swallow has a nest for itself.

There it may lay its young.

They are at your altars.

Yahweh of hosts!

My King!

My God!

Happy are those who live in your house!

They are ever singing your praise!”

Selah

In a special nod to the birds, it is mentioned that the sparrows and the swallows live in the Temple. In fact, they have nests there so that their young can be protected. They are at the altars of Yahweh, who is king and God. Happy are those who live in the house of God. They can sing praises to God all the time. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.

God with his council (Ps 82:1-82:2)

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?’”

Selah

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.

The voice (Ps 81:5-81:7)

“I hear a voice I had not known.

‘I relieved your shoulder of the burden.

Your hands were freed from the basket.

In distress you called.

Then I rescued you.

I answered you in the secret place of thunder.

I tested you at the waters of Meribah.’”

Selah

The psalmist noted that he heard an unknown voice. This voice said that he relieved them of their burdens. He freed their hands from the basket in their distress. He had rescued them. He had answered them with thunder. He had tested them at the waters of Meribah. These are references to the activities found in Exodus, chapters 17-19. This section ends with the musical meditative interlude pause of Selah.

There is no one like Yahweh (Ps 77:10-77:15)

“I say.

‘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.

O God!

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.”

Selah

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.

Has Yahweh forgotten me? (Ps 77:4-77:9)

“You keep my eyelids from closing.

I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

I consider the days of old.

I remember the years long ago.

I commune with my heart in the night.

I meditate and search my spirit.

‘Will Yahweh spurn me forever?

Will Yahweh never again be favorable?

Has his steadfast love ceased forever?

Are his promises at an end for all time?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?

Has he in anger shut up his compassion?’”

Selah

Asaph or this psalmist suffers from mental anguish. He feels that God has forgotten him. He could not close his eyes. He was troubled as he remembered the good old days. He was self reflective, searching his heart. He could hardly speak. He had a series of questions about God. Was he spurned forever? Would Yahweh never be favorable to him again? Had God forgotten his promises? Had God forgotten his steadfast love and graciousness to him? Was God so angry that he could not be compassionate? This is a questioning troubled person. This meditative section ends with the musical interlude pause of Selah.