Israel’s return and restoration (Psalm 73-89)
These Psalms form the third part and have many similarities with the third book of Moses: Leviticus.
In the first chapter of Leviticus we read about ‘the tabernacle of the congregation’, the sanctuary. This tabernacle is in fact the centre of this book. The subject of Leviticus is the Holy God and His sanctuary! We will find the same subject when we study the Psalms below. These Psalms can be divided in two parts:
Revelation of the Godly holiness (Ps. 73-83);
Result of the Godly holiness (Ps. 84-89).
The first thing we notice in the first eleven psalms is that they all carry the name of Asaph. He is first mentioned in 1 Chronicles 6:39 where we read that he was a Levite from the line of Gershon. The Gershonites were given the task to carry the sanctuary during the journey in the wilderness (Num. 4:24-28). During the reign of King David, Asaph is set over the service of song in the house of the LORD (1 Chr. 6:31, 32). Besides Psalms 73-83, Psalm 50 also bears the name of Asaph.
In Psalm 73 we hear through the mouth of Asaph the faithful remnant of the last days. They ask why the wicked prosper in the world and why God does not intervene. For God is holy and therefore He can only be good to such as are of a clean heart (vs. 1). It is the wrestling of believers of all times, but especially of those under the law; blessing should be for the believers; curse for the disobedient. But when we study this carefully, we see that blessing and curse are meant for the people as a whole and not for the individual. Many times believers had to suffer because of the disobedient when hunger and war came as Gods disciplinary measures. Being in Gods sanctuary, Asaph comes to understand their end (vs. 17). (Compare Luke 16:25).
The remnant has to wait until Gods time will come and that brings them to the conclusion that no one knows how long that will take (74:9, 10). How long shall the adversary reproach and blaspheme His Name? (See Rev. 13:6). Yet they know that God is the King, Who works deliverance in the midst of the earth. The remnant believes and knows that God as Judge will finish with the wicked and will let them drink the wine of His wrath (Ps. 75:8, compare Rev. 14:10).
The reality of the deliverance
In the next psalm (76) we hear the remnant speak of the wonderful reality of the deliverance and we see God known in Judah and His Name great in Israel and Salem as the place of His tabernacle.
In Psalm 78 Asaph shows us the history of Israel and through him we hear the remnant speak in disgust about the disbelief and disobedience of the fathers to the law given to them, but also the reaction of the holy God, Who remains faithful to His Word. The Psalm ends with the King to Gods own heart, David, who is a type of the Messiah, the King of Israel. The remnant is amazed by the faithfulness and mercy of God and wants to learn from the past.
In Psalm 79, the remnant is confronted with the indescribable suffering that fell to them for so long, but they know it is because of their disobedience to God (vs. 1-5). They confess their iniquities and pray for mercy for His Names sake (vs. 9).
The believers in Israel are the flock of which the Lord Jesus speaks in John 10, He, the Shepherd of Israel will lead His sheep to the Promised Land (Ps. 80:4, 8, 20). This leading will take place when the Shepherd will return as we read in Deuteronomy 30:3 where it says: “That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations”.
In Psalm 81 we clearly hear the voice of the LORD, Who points out to the people the blessing He gives when they are obedient. But at the same time the sad observation is made that Israel does not want to be obedient. In Matthew 23:37 we hear the same LORD speaking, this time in a human body just before His suffering: “…how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” In the last part of the psalms of Asaph we see God Who calls the judges to their responsibility and stresses His holy character (Ps. 82).
Then we see in Psalm 83 a covenant of 10 nations against Israel and we hear the remnant cry for deliverance. These nations point prophetically to the 10 kings of Revelation 17:12 who will be conquered by the King of kings and the ones that are with Him, so that they will know that His Name only is JEHOVAH, the most high over all the earth (83:18, 19).
From Psalm 84 we see that Gods holiness has its result and we hear the remnant speak with desire for the sanctuary.
In Psalm 86 we read about the Servant of the LORD. It is a prayer of David but we clearly hear the voice of the Son of David, the Messiah of Israel. We see Him in His agony, but also in His trust in God.
The next psalm concentrates us on the city of the Messiah. He suffered outside of the city but will reign from inside. This agony is showed again in Psalm 88 where we hear the Messiah in His desolation from God (vs. 14) and from the people (vs. 18). He is all by Himself, because only He could bear the punishment that became a blessing for all that believe. That is why God has greatly exalted Him as we read in Psalm 89:4: “Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations”.
This wonderful promise is given to David and God will keep His covenant, in spite of the disobedience of the house of David and the people. Here we read again: “How long, LORD?” No, it will not take long anymore before Gods holiness will be shown to the whole world (see Rev. 19:7-8). Then Israel will return and will be restored unto the glory of God.