WEEK 6

Sunday, July 12 – Saturday, July 18
Psalm 71– Psalm 84

An introduction to Book 3 of the Psalter

Psalm 72 marks the end of Book 2 of the psalter, and the conclusion of another collection of Davidic songs and poems (which doesn’t actually mean David wrote each and every one of those psalms; rather, the Davidic psalms are believed to have been written by, for, or about David, or commissioned by David or one of the kings who followed in David’s lineage. In the Davidic psalms, David stands as a representative of the anointed servant of God – a type of the coming Messiah).

Psalm 73 marks the beginning of Book 3, and it along with its twin, Psalm 74, establish the major theme of this book: the devastation and seeming-hopelessness of Israel. The predominant message in these psalms is the stunning defeat of God’s people as they face the powerful forces of foreign nations. Book 3 concludes dramatically in Psalm 89 with the throne and crown of the Davidic king being cast into the dust by none other than Yahweh, the God of the Davidic covenant.1

1. O. Palmer Robertson, The Flow of the Psalms

What to look for in Psalms 71-84

Note that much of the language shifts away from the personal, individual psalms that make up the bulk of Books 1 and 2. Instead, many of the psalms in Book 3 are communal, and focused on the experience of God’s people, Israel. Psalms 73-74 introduce the distress and devastation of God’s people, with Psalm 73 viewing the problem from an individual perspective, and Psalm 74 from a corporate perspective.

Notice the repeated appearance of foreign invaders or enemies or nations in these psalms. This imagery comes into stark relief when we recall that Israel was invaded and destroyed by enemy nations because of her lack of faithfulness to God’s covenant. The northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC, and the southern kingdom of Judah was sacked by the Babylonians in 586 BC, and the people taken into exile. And yet, even in the face of the force and power demonstrated by these nations, the psalmists remind the readers that God is the true King even over the greatest of earthly powers – see Psalms 75-76.

Though Israel’s self-inflicted situation in these psalms is often depicted as seemingly-hopeless, the psalmists weave this collection of poems and prayers with threads of God’s deliverance. God’s anointed servant is described as having a mighty arm/hand, as being powerful, and yet as being tender, like a shepherd leading a flock. In spite of Israel’s failure, God is faithful. As God was faithful to rescue His people by parting the waters in Egypt, so He will rescue them again.

Questions to ask of Psalms 71-84

Read Psalm 73 and Psalm 74 together. What parallels do you notice?

How easy or hard is it for you to read psalms from an individual perspective as compared to a corporate one? Ask God’s Spirit to illumine your reading of these communal psalms, that you may find your place in the story as a member of God’s community.

What amazing deeds has God performed for you and your community? The psalmists regularly recount God’s saving acts on behalf of His people, especially their deliverance from Pharaoh in Egypt. What acts of deliverance, salvation, and restoration cause you to remember God’s faithfulness?

How might God want to be at work in your life through His Word in these psalms? What about these psalms resonates with promises of transformation, hope, deliverance, and redemption?

How might God want to be at work in your life through His Word in these psalms? What about these psalms resonates with promises of transformation, hope, deliverance, and redemption?

Prayer

How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns for the courts of the Lord. And yet, Lord, sometimes I feel far from You, removed from Your presence, crushed under the weight of distress. I see Your good name profaned all around me, Your good ways scoffed at, and Your reflected beauty marred by those who are careless, insensitive, and even destructive. Rise up, Lord! Don’t be silent! Take Your stand! Right the wrongs committed by generation after generation. Right the wrongs committed by me. Deliver me, and deliver Your church for Your name’s sake, just as You have saved Your people in the past. I cry out with all I am. Hear my prayers. Amen.

Psalms Soundscape

The Nearness of You (Psalm 73) by Loud Harp

You Heard Me (Psalm 77) by Loud Harp

Highways In Our Hearts (Psalm 84) by Esther Ellis