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Book 3

[Psalms 73-89]

Psalm 73

A Psalm of Asaph: Do not be tempted by the apparent prosperity of the ungodly. The psalmist first acknowledges God is good to those with a clean heart. He then speaks of his envy of the wicked, their apparent prosperity despite their ungodly ways and attitudes, and how he fell into temptation. But he was delivered from temptation when he drew near to God and was able to see beyond the worldly, recognising that the ungodly will eventually perish whereas those that trust in God have a far greater prospect in the glory of eternal life.

Psalm 74

A Psalm of Asaph: A plea for relief from oppressors that have desolated the sanctuary. The psalmist speaks of the acts committed against the sanctuary. He calls on God to take action for his people as he had done in the times of the exodus. He pleads with God not to allow the oppressors to continue to dishonour His name and shame the oppressed, but to rise against His enemies and the enemies of His people.

Psalm 75

A Psalm of Asaph: God is judge. The psalmist gives thanks to God who is the sovereign judge of all the earth. Only the righteous will be exalted.

Psalm 76

A Psalm of Asaph: God’s majesty in judgement. The true God known in Judah, Israel, Salem and Zion, majestic in defeat of Israel’s enemies and merciful to the meek of all the earth. His people must not forget their vows and obligations; all nations ought to fear God and pay the homage due to Him.

Psalm 77

A Psalm of Asaph: Consolation in times of distress. The psalmist cries out to God in a time of distress when he feels God has deserted him. He meditates on all the marvellous works God has done for His people and in this is able to console himself.

Psalm 78

A Psalm of Asaph: A reminder of God’s relationship with Israel as a lesson for all generations. This psalm is introduced as being a reminder for the present and all future generations of God’s compassion for His people to encourage them to keep His commandments. The psalmist recalls Israel’s history of rebellion, their punishments, their insincere repentance and God’s continued compassion for them. They repeatedly backslid and were forgetful of His mercy shown towards them from the time He delivered them out of Egypt. Even after they had entered the Promised Land and their enemies had been defeated, God’s anger was continually provoked. God eventually removed any judgements they had brought upon themselves by rejecting the tribes of Israel, choosing Judah and David to be king over His people, and bringing them to their present happy state.

Psalm 79

A Psalm of Asaph: A prayer for God to take action against those that brought desolation to Jerusalem. The psalmist speaks of the desolations wrought upon Jerusalem by their enemies and prays for God to deal with them. He asks God to exercise mercy towards His people, and to pardon and restore them for His name’s sake. In return he promises gratitude and praise expressed through the generations.

Psalm 80

A Psalm of Asaph: A cry to God for the restoration of His people. This psalm is a prayer for the Israelite captives who are suffering before their neighbours and enemies. Israel is compared to a vineyard, planted in Canaan. It spread and flourished, but then in time became wasted and ruined. The psalmist cries out to God to return to His people and restore His vineyard.

Psalm 81

A Psalm of Asaph: A festival song. This psalm is considered to be one of those chosen to be sung at a festival, although there is no absolute certainty as to which one. The people are exhorted to praise God for His deliverance, to heed His ordinances, and to lament past transgressions and consequential sufferings.

Psalm 82

A Psalm of Asaph: A warning to corrupt judges. Judges are questioned as to how long they will continue in their corrupt ways. They are called to judge fairly and to be no respecter of persons. If they do not mend their ways, then they in turn will be judged by God.

Psalm 83

A Psalm of Asaph: Against a confederation of enemies. The psalmist calls upon God for help against a number of named enemies who are conspiring to cut Israel off as a nation. Included in the names are Moab and Ammon, descendants of Lot, and Edom, descendants of Esau. He asks God to punish them as he had punished particular nations and individuals in the past. He further asks they should be confounded, troubled, put to shame and perish, all to be done for the glory of God.

Psalm 84

A Psalm for the Sons of Korah: A longing to be closer to God. The psalmist here pours out his heart, longing for a close communion with God which he sees will be found in the sanctuary at Zion. He refers to all who are there with God as being blessed, and prays in confidence to be able to spend even a little time in His house.

Psalm 85

A Psalm for the Sons of Korah: Thanksgiving and a call for further mercy. The psalmist gives thanks to God for the the restoration of His people, but still sees the need for mercy to be shown towards them. He prays in confidence, knowing God will answer and show mercy to those who fear Him, and has an expectation that glorious blessings will follow.

Psalm 86

A Psalm of David: A prayer for mercy. David prays for daily support, knowing that God is always ready to show mercy and forgive. There is no other like God and all nations will come to recognise His glory and worship Him. David prays for further instruction from God and promises to praise Him with all his heart and to glorify His name for evermore. He makes a plea to God to show mercy towards him in the face of his enemies, and to show a token for good that will shame them.

Psalm 87

A Psalm for the Sons of Korah: Zion, city of God. The psalmist speaks of the glorious future of Zion whose inhabitants will even include former enemies. The conversion of Jews and Gentiles will be cause for much praise and celebration.

Psalm 88

A Psalm for the Sons of Korah; A contemplation by Heman the Ezrahite; The cry of a man in deep distress nearing death. This is perhaps the darkest of psalms, being one of complete woe and does not end with any hint of relief, comfort or joy. The psalmist’s soul is full of troubles as he approaches the end of his life. He feels as if he were already in the grave with those who have no more access to God. All his friends have left him to suffer alone with his troubles and the affliction he has in his eye. Daily he cries out to God for mercy and deliverance, knowing that once dead he would not be able to praise God, see the wonders of His works, or benefit from His loving kindness. In these dark times, he has no lover, friend or acquaintances.

Psalm 89

A contemplation of Ethan the Ezrahite: A prayer for the restoration of Judah. The psalmist speaks of God’s promise to David, His support and mercy shown to him and against his enemies. However, it seems that His covenant with David has been made void as Judah is now captive and David’s enemies are rejoicing. The psalmist entreats God to remember His covenant with David and bring about restoration.
Book 1 Psalms 1 to 41 Book 2 Psalms 42 to 72 Book 3 Psalms 73 to 89 Book 5 Psalms 107 to 150 Old Testament  Book 4 Psalms 90 to 106 Collection of Messianic Psalms