Posted by: mikenicholsblog | June 3, 2015

Asaph who?

In every company, on every team, and in every church, there are people who seem nondescript. Often they are the solid behind-the-scenes people. They add great value, but since they aren’t the most vocal, most recognizable or the strongest leader, sometimes their value gets overlooked.  There is someone in Scripture who reminds me of that unknown, nearly nondescript person.  He was a worship leader, but honestly there’s little else I knew about him until I began looking a little deeper.  He might initially seem like an interesting choice to write about, but I believe there is resonance between his story and ours.

Ask most Christ-followers to name the author of the book of Psalms and the response would be overwhelming, “David.”  From my own study, there seems to be a consensus that David wrote seventy-five Psalms personally. Seventy-three are attributed to him in the superscription, and another two are ascribed to him in the New Testament. But there are one hundred and fifty chapters in the book, which means there’s half not specifically attributed to David.  Solomon wrote two Psalms and Moses one. There were other authors, and some scholars feel that fifty of the Psalms were anonymous in authorship.  There’s one name I haven’t mentioned yet … Asaph.  Asaph is in the superscription of Psalm chapter 50, and chapters 73-83. This man may be widely unknown and we can make a case for him being nondescript, but the divine author God chose to use him as a human composer.

This little-known man was a Levite and led one of the temple choirs. One of my commentaries stated that as a leader of worship, he either wrote the twelve psalms or one of his descendants did.  There may be debates on this, but many scholars have ascribed them to him.  Hasn’t his story just become quite a but more compelling, and isn’t there value in comparing a bit of his story to mine (and yours).

I believe we find a struggling Asaph at the beginning of Psalm seventy-three.  The chapter begins with a bit of self-pity, as he looked at the prosperity of the wicked.  Psalm 73:1-3 set the stage…

Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. 

I can easily see myself in those words. What about you? There was a point in Asaph’s worship where he realized the wicked weren’t so well off. Verse 17 says, Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.  At the end of this chapter, the words of Asaph are dramatically different from the beginning.  Starting in verse 21, note the difference in his response.

Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you?  I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,  but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

What a difference from the beginning of the chapter!

You and I may not share the exact same self-pity issues that Asaph addressed, but we can relate with self-pity … can’t we?  A change took place for Asaph, and he began to worship enthusiastically.  His words are a model for all Christ-followers.  There will always be questions that confront our minds, but we need to live by the truth we know, not the doubts that can invade our minds. Asaph is an encouragement to me and I am glad I too can say, “God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” From the outside, Asaph may look nondescript, but the more I think about him … his story is my story.

Psalm 73 closes with these strong words,  But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do

His words are a model.  Go.  Tell.



  1. Wow !! Asaph’s story is our story

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