Psalm 73 Study Question 6

Sycamore Presbyterian Church Friday Men’s Bible Study Psalm 73 (see notes)

Question 6. Derek Kidner says “Verse 1 is the key to the whole psalm.” How might that be true, in light of all you’ve seen?

One way to answer this question is to think of this collection of words as a song, which it indeed is. It was written in a particular occasion (Israel, ca. 1000 BC), by a court official (Asaph the seer), who worked with a musical genius (David), to be sung in Temple worship. As such, we should not expect to read this or any other psalm as a three-point essay or some piece of Greek rhetoric from the progymnasmata writing series. Stylistic flourishes ought to be expected. I write this because verse 1 seems to be isolated thematically from verse 2 ff., where Asaph takes us down his painful road of separation.

In addition to this, as I mentioned previously, we learn of Asaph’s struggles in Psalm 73 retrospectively; he gave neither verbal nor physical outlet to his thoughts. The phrase, “If I had said,” tells us that Asaph is looking back. So it is with verse 1. He foreshadows the conclusion and thus gives shape to his song. It is like the shape of the Bible itself, which begins not with the fall but with creation, and man enjoying fellowship with God and dominion over the created order. The fall comes next, and then redemption in Christ. So it is with Psalm 73; Asaph begins with an affirmation of God’s goodness (goodness is the theme of creation), suffers a sort of fall (his separation from God), and experiences a sort of redemption (his “coming to himself” after worshiping in the sanctuary.)

Another view is to think about the faithfulness of God (remember, God held Asaph’s right hand throughout) and Asaph illustrates this by bookending a reminder of His faithfulness at the very beginning. Since God never let go of Asaph’s right hand, Asaph won’t let us forget that He also holds our right hands throughout as well, and so he begins the psalm with this affirmation.

So in short, I do believe verse 1 is the key to the whole psalm.

Notes:
Using Praying the Psalms Group Study Product
All Bible quotes ESV

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