|Angry? Is God Angry?|
The Story: As in so many of his psalms, Asaph’s lyrics seem intended to shock his hearers. Did he really mean for the people to think that God was angry with them? After all, the people could point to all their material prosperity and argue exactly the opposite. And these were good times in Israel. Where was all this bread and drink of tears that Asaph was foisting upon them through the choir (see superscription)? But Asaph hoped to force the people to consider his words and to look within their souls. No, they were not at that time an object of contention among the nations; quite the opposite, in fact (1 Kings 10). But what Asaph foresaw would come to pass soon enough, and, when it did, the people might be reminded to recall and sing his words – especially since he seems to have cast them in the melody of a folk or popular tune (“Lilies” – superscription). In King Hezekiah’s day, when the nation was definitely experiencing that which Asaph foresaw, he specifically instructed the worship leaders to use this and the other psalms of Asaph, in hopes of stirring the people to seek the Lord (2 Chron. 29:30). Notice how, in this stanza, the sense of urgency in Asaph’s prayer is increased by enlarging the refrain (“O God of hosts”) ever so slightly.
The Structure: The Lord honored the prayers of Hezekiah and his worship leaders; might He honor them in our own day? We see more of what Asaph envisioned than did the nation in his day. It is evident that the Church today is becoming “an object of contention” to the unbelieving world. Animosity toward the Church and the faith of Christ is growing, in no small part because of our own failings and sin. Yet it’s hard for us, as it was for Israel, to believe that God might be angry with our prayers. But, considering the state of the Law of God in today’s churches – that it is scarcely taught and almost everywhere ignored – we might think otherwise. God regards as an abomination the prayers of those who neglect His Law (Prov. 28:9). We will know that our hearts have begun to incline to the Lord for revival when weeping and tears begin to fill our prayers, because of our woeful neglect of God’s Law, our faithlessness and hypocrisy, and our smug complacency when it comes to evangelizing a dying world.
Consider the prominence God’s Law has in your life and in the ministry of your church: Is there reason to wonder about how God might regard your prayers?
For more insight on reading the Psalms, get the book, How to Read the Psalms, by Tremper Longman III.
The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.