This is the first of 12 “songs of Asaph.” Asaph was one of David’s chief musicians (1 Chronicles 16:7), and undoubtedly did write some of the psalms (2 Chronicles 29:30), although it is not certain that he wrote all 12 of these, or simply was known to sing some of them. Most commentators agree however that this one was likely written by him. Adam Clarke said “The style of David is more polished, flowing, correct, and majestic, than that of Asaph, which is more stiff and obscure.”
Some say that this is a prophetic psalm concerning the Messiah, and that does have some merit. Verse 2 (“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,God shines forth”) seems akin to Isaiah 2:3 (“For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”). In the latter, “the word” obviously is Jesus (John 1:14). And in verses 8-14, God tells His chosen ones that He neither needs nor wants their sacrifices (which we are reminded in Hebrews 10:5-7).
He rebukes the wicked among them in verses 16-22 for believing they can live their lives doing any sort of sinful act, as long as they make their sacrifices to atone for it. God hates fake worship; and the verses are just as relevant for us today. Too many of us live as pagans Monday through Saturday night, yet still consider themselves Christians on Sunday, as long as they go to worship services. God will judge us for how we live our daily lives, and His salvation is for he who “orders his way rightly” (verse 23).
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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