Psalm 74. 7-8
They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
   they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”
   They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.

Reflection: A Prophet in a Golden Age
By John Tillman

Asaph was a contemporary of David and was writing psalms for worship both during David’s reign and afterward, under Solomon.

Asaph was not only a poet. Asaph performed music as well. He was a percussionist, often noted as playing the cymbals and it is likely he played multiple instruments as was appointed chief over all the musicians creating and performing for worship in the Temple.

Asaph is also a prophet. Psalms were often considered to be written as prophecy. Jesus described David’s psalmody as being written, “by the Spirit.”

The prophecy of destruction that this psalm describes would have seemed highly unlikely when it was written. During the lifespan of Asaph, The Temple was never remotely close to being under any threat similar to the ones mentioned in verses four through eight. It would be hundreds of years before the Babylonians laid waste to Solomon’s Temple and hundreds more before the Romans destroyed the Temple Jesus visited in Jerusalem.

Some, for this reason have questioned the authorship, saying that likely it was written later by a descendant or merely “in the style of” Asaph. But when we already ascribe prophetic power to the psalms in general, there is no specific reason to doubt the prophetic nature of this psalm.

Prophecy seems to run in Asaph’s family. It is one of Asaph’s descendants who speaks up to King Josiah in a moment of crisis with a prophecy from the Lord about invading armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites.

Asaph was a prophet, a poet, and a creative leader living in the golden age of the kingdom Israel and a golden age of the worship of God in the Temple. David’s works are largely autobiographical. Asaph’s seem to be focused on the fate and faith of the entire country in times ahead.

Despite living in some of Israel’s best years, many of Asaph’s works contain laments about the destruction of Israel or the Temple. Even in times of blessing, prophets can see the roots of sins that will bear bitter fruit in the future.

We need the warnings of the prophets no matter what our circumstances. It doesn’t matter if we live in a golden age or in one we wish could be restored to its former state, the warnings of the prophets are for us.

May we never trust in the power of a king. Even the greatest kings of Israel were sinners, guilty of great injustices.
May we never groan at the messages of prophets. Especially when they tell us something that we don’t want to hear.

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Love the lord, all you who worship him; the Lord protects the faithful, but repays to the full those who act haughtily. — Psalm 31.23

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 30 (Listen – 2:20) 
Psalm 74 (Listen – 2:34)

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