Asaph, a worship pastor from a few years ago, wrote a series of psalms that tells the story of Israel’s ups and downs. By the time we get toward the end of his contribution to the songbook, we read the following practical advice:
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Asaph’s psalms read like a symphonic work for a full orchestra. The highs and lows lend themselves to rising crescendos and crashing cymbals. His dramatic flair for writing must have led to equally compelling music. I find it interesting to read psalms 50 and 73-83 together to understand Asaph’s thought process.
As David’s key music leader, I’m confident he was attuned to David’s heart. The words reflect emotions that stir in each of us if we’re honest. Frustration, impatience, and anger as people foolishly deny God’s existence following by joy when they seem to turn to Him for a while suddenly. That doesn’t last for long! Back to the pit. Deep despair for those who ignore the warnings.
By the time we get to Psalm 82, we hear the question one more time:
How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Psalm 82:2
At this point, Asaph provides the two verses we focus on today. There’s no doubt that this statement is in response to their inability to care for those in need. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: are we those who defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Is this us?
While I’m not one who has any desire to send others on a guilt-trip, the question is meant to cause each of us to take a close, introspective look at our hearts, but don’t dwell there. Rather than getting lost in looking back at mistakes of the past, Asaph provides guidance for our future in a few concise statements.
- Defend the weak and the fatherless
- Uphold the cause of the poor and those who are oppressed
- Rescue the weak and needy
- Deliver people from the hand of those who are wicked
Asaph’s symphony summarizes the story of Israel, of human failure, along with brief moments of glory. The music is playing in my head switches from bold major triads to dark and gloomy minors — just like the history of my life. But when we get to this section, the sun is rising, the sky is clear. The cool mist of dawn invites us into a new awakening. It’s a new day.
Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord — that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:18
Today, let us agree to take on the mantle of the good judge, the true Savior. May we clothe ourselves in the righteousness of Jesus and see people through His loving and caring eyes.
Here’s an interesting reference for the Songs of Asaph: [Link to Website]