|The Mighty Work of God|
The Story: As he is wont to do, Asaph leads the people to recall the mighty work of God on their behalf in times past. This stanza is filled with “cue words” which were packed with connotations every Israelite would know – Egypt, vine, land, mountains, cedars, branches. On these vivid images the history of redemption to Asaph’s day could be plotted, as the people would be led to reflect on God’s goodness and might. Asaph hoped to stir the hearts of the worshippers with renewed love for the Lord as he reminded them of the grace of God that had worked for their salvation. Asaph is not just a prophet of gloom and wrath; he sought to turn the hearts of the people to God by reminding them that He was their Redeemer and Shepherd as well as their King. He and He alone had been the Source of their prosperity; they must now examine themselves in the light of His grace and turn their hearts to seek Him once again.
The Structure: One of the most neglected aspects of the prayers of Christians today is that of rehearsing the grace of God to themselves and to the Church throughout the ages. The psalms do this frequently, both in remembering the kindness of God to individuals (cf. Ps. 18) and, as here, to His people. Why don’t we hear more of this kind of praying in our churches? And why don’t we pray like this? Because we don’t know how to pray as we ought, as Paul reminds us (Rom. 8:26). If we could learn to pray the psalms – as the first Christians seem routinely to have done (cf. Acts 4:23-26), we might find that our prayers are both more powerful with the Lord and more capable of illuminating our true condition and need. Hezekiah led the people of his day to pray the psalms, and the Apostles led the first Christians to do the same. What about us?Do the psalms feature in any of your prayers? Should they? How might you begin to let the psalms be a more constant presence in 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.