Lesson 6

Book Three

Book three is sharply different from the 2 books that precede it. It is much shorter with only 17 psalms as compared to 41 in Book One and 31 in Book 2. Only one psalm is attributed to David. The dominant theme is “a crisis of faith for the people of God. That struggle is characteristic of fourteen of the seventeen psalms. Sometimes it is personal, but primarily related to the whole nation of Israel. The faith of Israel as individual believers and as a nation is represented by the monarchy. The crisis is centers on the apparent failure of God’s promise that David’s son would forever sit on his throne. There is also a sub them of the importance of the temple as the meeting place of God and his temple, and the tragedy of its destruction.

Psalm 73:1-15

Asaph was a Levite who led one of the temple choirs (1 Chron. 15:19; 25:1-2). His name is identified (with Psalms 73-83; also Psalm 50). He either wrote these psalms, or his choir sang them, or later choirs in the tradition of Asaph sang them.

The psalmist became depressed when he contrasted the seeming prosperity of the wicked with the difficulties of living a righteous life. (Beginning in verse 15), however, his attitude changes completely. He looks at life from the perspective of being under the control of a sovereign, holy God, and concludes that it is the wicked, not the righteous, who have blundered. VV 1—15 show that the psalmist confusion and envy were leading him to bitterness.

The psalmist was facing a temptation to abandon his godliness and follow the world. He feels that it is pointless to live faithfully before the Lord. (13).

We have seen what a strong temptation the psalmist was in to envy prospering profaneness; now here we are told how he kept his footing and got the victory. Pro 30:32  If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth

The intent of the psalm is to teach God’s people the true end of the wicked and blessings of the presence of God. This is characteristic of a wisdom psalm. The destiny of the wicked is clear because their final outcome is understood in relationship to God’s judgement.

We see the change in the attitude of the psalmist. He moves from ‘they’ and ‘I’ to ‘God’. Instead of being dominated by experience, the psalmist now has a God-centered perspective. Why is it important that we do not live by experience, but rather God’s teaching?  Can we trust ourselves? (Follow your heart?)

Jer 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Pro 28:26  Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

Psalm 8

This is another psalm of David but different from many as it does not express distress on the part of God’s people. Instead it celebrates the great creative work of God. The focus is on God and his splendor. It is used as a way to build confidence in God. Gittith, which is generally taken for the tune, or musical instrument, with which this psalm was to be sung;

How Majestic Is Your Name

We see the psalmist’s reflection  on the wonders of the works of God displayed in the heavens as it demonstrates the power and the splendor of God. He talks about the heavenly bodies and sees them as small things in God’s hands. Psa 8:3  The anthropomorphism “thy fingers” miniaturizes the magnitude of the universe in the presence of the Creator. Psalm 8:4 “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Genesis 1:26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

“What is man”: If the whole universe is diminutive in the sight of the Divine Creator, how much less is the significance of mankind! Even the word for “man” used in verse 4 alludes to his weakness (compare Psalms 9:19-20; 90:3a; 103:15).

Yet……………… John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Have you thought since the stars are such small things, why would God give man any thought? Why does God love us so much?

The astounding answer found throughout the bible: man is the crown of creation and as God’s image bearer he has been given dominion over all the earth. The importance of man to God in creation sets the stage for God’s remarkable work to redeem man after the fall.

Man as the crown of creation has rule over the world and everything on the earth, ie animals, birds, fish. He has the responsibility of the good king.

This hymn contemplates the role of human beings in the world in light of the majesty of God in creation. Many hymns begin with exhortations to praise God, followed by the reason we should praise him. This one does this in a slightly different way. By focusing our attention on the excellency of God’s name in beginning and ending with God, we see that apart from a correct understanding of God, we cannot understand our role in this world. Calvin writes in his Institutes: ‘It is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face.’ Having a faulty understanding of God gives man a false view of who we are as human beings and our role.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the hopes expressed in Psalm 8. The use of Psalm 8 in Hebrews 2 has led many to identify this psalm as a Messianic psalm.

It is interesting that what Ps 8 says about human beings is applied directly to Jesus. The purposes of God for creating human beings are fulfilled in Christ. We find our true humanity and identity in him. Though God’s original purpose was marred by sin, Jesus has come to restore it though his suffering and death. We are restored to our kingly role of dominion over creation. This will include victory over death; our true destiny will be restored in the new heavens and new earth.