A Psalm of Asaph.
1 Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.
2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped.
3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.
7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.
9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.
10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.
11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?
12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.
16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.
19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.
21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.
24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.
27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.
28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
A prayer of the church under grievous persecutions. Finding God as our portion through the Lord’s dealing in our lives and learning to interpret all things from the standpoint of the church.
Poets and Singers
Throughout the ancient world music and hymnody played an important role in temple worship, and many temples had musical guilds that composed and sang hymns to the gods.
(Examples of such liturgy are available from as far back as the Sumerian period). The situation was similar for ancient Israel.
Unlike David, who was a renowned and yet amateur musician, Asaph, Heman, Ethan, and the sons of Korah were in effect professional singers who created and sang psalms as part of their Levitical service in the temple.
Asaph, a Levitical choir leader during the time of David (1 Chr 6:39), is mentioned alongside David in 2 Chronicles 29:30 as a composer of psalms and as “seer.” He is credited with Ps 50 and 73-83).
Heman the Ezrahite and Ethan the Ezrahite are linked to the composition of Ps 88 and 89. First Kings 4:31 indicates that both were highly esteemed for their wisdom.
Numbers 16 describes Korah’s attempt to usurp the priestly position from Aaron and of Korah’s consequent death. Nevertheless, the “sons of Korah” served as gatekeepers at the sanctuary (1 Chr 9:19) and rose to prominence as temple musicians. Ps 42, 44-49, 84-85, and 87-88 are all attributed to the Korahites.
Evidently these psalmists, beyond being talented vocalists and songwriters, were highly respected as prophets and sages.