The Psalms grouped in Book 3, Psalms 73-89 are written by various believers who are living in tumultuous times. Some of them write about victory and others are puzzled by their defeat. Asaph is credited with some of these Psalms. Asaph was one of David's worship leaders mentioned as a kinsman of another worship leader named Heman who was Samuel's grandson. (1Chronicles 15: 16-22)
Heman wrote Psalm 88. The last Psalm in Book 3 is Psalm 89. It is written by Ethan the Ezraite who is noted for his wisdom in 1Kings 4:31 . The three men, Asaph, Heman and Ethan are recorded in 1Chronicles 6 also.
Scholars debate the date of the Psalms in Book 3 and under which conditions they were written, but most agree that the name Asaph can refer to the man himself or one of his descendants writing in his style and that Ethan lived through the time of Solomon and perhaps shortly after.
This is all great information, but so what, you may be thinking.
Well, one aspect of the Psalms in Book 3 is bad things were happening in Israel or in Jerusalem and the Psalmists were struggling to understand why– especially since they had a covenant with the Creator of the universe. They asked their questions in the songs they wrote. They seem to have been good men– obedient and loyal to God. They believed God was faithful to His word and His covenant. What they failed to see at times, was that other so-called believers and men who were in positions of leadership were not. And most important, it mattered for all those living in Israel.
Psalm 79 was written after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Why were the Israelites taken into captivity? Because the majority of Israel and its leaders rebelled against God, a truth the prophets had warned about. Jeremiah warned them repeatedly to turn back to God. God's intense desire was to forgive them and bless them, but they refused to cooperate with Him. They had other priorities and did what they thought was right.
Psalm 89 is another time of upheaval, possibly the earlier division of Israel into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms and the resulting conditions. Ethan is angry about God's seeming abandonment of the covenant He made with Israel. But God never revoked His faithfulness to the covenant. The Israelites who rebelled and disobeyed were the ones who canceled their agreements and dropped their loyalty to their responsibilities to the covenant.
The point is this:
these leading Israelites were given a place of influence and a responsibility and they shirked their duty and led others to do the same.
That is why Israel, and eventually Judah, found themselves in the predicament they were in. The ancient Israelites who rebelled against God brought about their own downfall that these Psalmists saw and demanded God undo.
But revelation came slowly. In these Psalms are written the failings of the people and God's tender mercy still. The Asaph of Psalm 79 did not imagine what we are witnesses to: the restoration of Israel and the diamond in the Middle East it is today.
But what about Christians in America? What do these Psalmists' struggle with the hard truth have to do with us?
Well, America too is a covenant nation. For better or worse on our part, covenants were written by men who landed here to pledge this nation to God. We know we upheld our responsibilities about as well as Israel. But God does not forget, and He is looking for those who trust Him to help us as we see our nation in danger. "For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth so that He may support those whose heart is completely His." (2Chron. 16:9 AMPC)
Much like the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Eric Metaxas is holding the marginal believers accountable for their actions. He is reminding men like Vice President Pence and other legislators of their failed duties in their places of God-given influence. These were men entrusted with upholding Constitutional procedures and they lacked the wisdom or the courage to do it.
He is saying to those who voted against the unborn, against a protected border and against Israel, they are responsible for the rise of killed infants, the crisis at the border with the rise of human trafficking and abandoned toddlers, the rise of drugs being distributed to vulnerable youth or troubled adults, and the list goes on.
Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Metaxas is pointing the finger for the purpose of repentance. You can think what you want about him, but when I heard him speak, I was reminded of Asaph and Ethan and the conditions in which they wrote and struggled with the truth. I remembered Jeremiah and all the other prophets who spoke words far more blunt than Metaxas.
But the best part?
The same hope the Psalmists appealed to is the same hope we have today.
And ready for this?
The Bible says we have a BETTER covenant than Old Testament believers (Hebrews 8:6) because we have Jesus, the forgiveness through His blood, the Holy Spirit's power, and Jesus has defeated satan, the source of all evil and deceit!
Now, I understand we can disagree, and I realize you have the right to decide for yourself what all this chaos reminds you of. But here is Eric Metaxas' speech. Warning to the sensitive: Metaxas declares the election fraudulent and mentions biblical viewpoints. Only listen if you are brave enough to hear the hard truth.
Image by Ludovic Migneault courtesy of Unsplash.
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