C The Leviticus Section Darkness and Dawn (Sanctuary in view)
The Third book – Leviticus
Psalm 73 – 83 The Sanctuary in relation to man
A Psalm of Asaph
The Fate of the Wicked
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 for ever. 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.
Maschil of Asaph
An Appeal to the Lord
1: O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? 2: Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt. 3: Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary. 4: Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs. 5: A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees. 6: But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers. 7: They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling place of thy name to the ground. 8: They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land. 9: We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long. 10: O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever? 11: Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck it out of thy bosom. 12: For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. 13: Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. 14: Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness. 15: Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers. 16: The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun. 17: Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter. 18: Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O LORD, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name. 19: O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever. 20: Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. 21: O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise thy name. 22: Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily. 23: Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually.
To the chief musician Al-taschith
Today we begin the third section of the book of Psalms which relate to the third book of the Pentateuch, Leviticus. We are reading Psalm 73 & 74. This is a Psalm of Asaph. In this Psalm Asaph describes a long and difficult lesson that he had to learn. He says, The Lord is good to Israel, to those who have a clean mind, but he says, I nearly slipped. It happened like this – as I looked around at the ungodly I noticed that they were wealthy and I was jealous of them. I had envy at those who foolishly lived as if God did not exist. They were healthy and strong and I was weak and poor. They didn’t seem to have any troubles like other men and they seemed to be immune from the plagues which come to all men. They seemed to be entangled in the chains of pride and they were covered with violence. They seemed to have everything that the eye and heart could desire. Yet they are corrupt and say wicked things and they rip off the poor and speak of them as dross. They speak against the Lord and they seem to have something to say about the whole earth. They say what does God know? And does the Lord know anything? They are ungodly and they increase in riches. I thought to myself, have I cleansed my mind for no profit? Have I washed my hands in ignorance, because I am plagued all day long and the Lord disciplines me every morning. When I thought about these things they were painful for me to think about. Then I went into the Tabernacle of God and I understood what future the ungodly have. You Lord, put them in places were they can slip and you throw them down into destruction. How can they be destroyed in a moment of time? And their destruction is with terrifying effect. You woke up like a man from sleep and saw what they were like. And I was pricked in my conscience. How foolish I had been. How ignorant! I was like an animal that knows nothing. Yet you were with me and held me up. You will guide me with your advice and later take me up to glory. Who have I got but You O Lord? There is none that I want like you in all the earth. My body and mind fails but you will be the strength of my mind forever. Those that are far from you will perish and you have destroyed all those who forsake you. But It will be good for me says Asaph, to draw near to God. I have put my trust in the Lord GOD so that I will be able to tell everyone about Gods wonderful works. Psalm 74 is a Psalm that teaches important lessons. He begins saying, why have you cast us off forever? And why are you angry at your people? – we are like dumb sheep! Remember us - who you redeemed in olden times. Lord, your enemies shout against us when we are gathered together and they lift up their battle flags against us. Once upon a time men were famous for cutting down huge trees but now they cut down the tabernacle of the Lord. They destroy all the houses of prayer in the land and there is no prophet in the land nor anyone that knows how long these days have been. O Lord, how long will you allow our enemy to speak to us like this? Will you allow them to blaspheme forever? Why do you withdraw your hand in judgment? You are the King of Old you bring deliverance to your people. You divide the sea by your almighty power and you destroy the sea monsters. You cut the dinosaurs into pieces and give them as meat to those who live in the desert. You divide the mountain and the flood and you dry up the rivers. Both the day and night are yours. You have put the lights and the sun in the sky. You have put borders around the earth. You make summer and winter. So, remember that these enemies have spoken against you and blasphemed your name. Do not allow your dove (Israel) to be overcome by the hordes of the wicked. Do not forget your people forever. Keep the covenant that you have made with your people, because the uncivilised nations are full of darkness and cruelty. Rise up O God stand on the side of the righteous and remember how foolish men spoke against you. Do not forget the curses of those who are against you because they rise up against you continually. This Psalm is addressed to the chief choir master Al-taschith, ‘Destroy-not’.