PSALM 73 and 77
Bible Study Notes Rev. Betsy Perkins
Book III (Psalms 73-89)
Psalm 72 ends with 2 verses of doxology/praise, and a final statement that is almost certainly added by whoever edited the collection of Davidic psalms: “This concludes the prayers of David, son of Jesse.” Psalms 73 begins the collection of psalms titled Book III. They are primarily attributed to Asaph or Korah, temple musicians. Book III is further divided into 3 groupings, 73-78 and 78-83 and 84-89, determined by structural patterns and themes.
Group 1: Psalm 73 – 78
73: Instruction from individual experience 78: Instruction from communal
74: Communal prayer (God’s rejection) 77: Individual prayer (God’s rejection)
75: Thanks to God 76: Thanks to God
A psalm of Asaph. Words of godly wisdom about the destinies of the righteous and the wicked, based on the experience of an individual’s life. A poem of contrasts.
Stanza 1 (vs.1-14): A nearly catastrophic trial of faith.
Stanza 2 (vs.15-28): The renewal of faith.
o Compare the verses at the beginning and end of the psalm. What is the contrast between vs. 1 and vs. 27? Verses 2 and 28 both begins with “But as for me…” How has Asaph’s experience affected him?
o What was it that threatened the faith of the psalmist so that he despaired in vs. 13-14?
o Why does he use the image of a “brute beast” to describe his low point, vs. 22?
o Where did the turning pointing in the psalmist’s experience take place? What happens there that helped him?
o In verse 27, the literal translation of the second line would be “You destroy all who commit spiritual adultery/prostitution.” How was this image also used by John in Revelation? Are there any other similarities to Revelation?
o What Truths about God does the psalmist recognize and affirm?
A psalm of Asaph. For the music director; for Jeduthun (one of David’s three choir leaders).
This prayer of an individual moves from anguished bewilderment to comforting recollection.
It is composed in 2 parts, a lament followed by a hymn. These 2 parts consist of 4 three-verse phrases, followed by 2 four-verse phrases which have been intertwined for dramatic effect.
Stanza 1 (vs.1-10): A Lament
o How does the psalmist’s description of his distress help us understand what he was going through?
o Why did remembering make the psalmist even more distressed?
o What are the questions that the psalmist has?
o Verse 10 is translated in a variety of ways due to unclear word forms in the Hebrew.
NRSV: And I say, “It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”
CEB: It’s my misfortune, I thought, that the strong hand of the Most High is different now.
GNT: Then I said, “What hurts me most is this— that God is no longer powerful.”
NLT: And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
NIV: Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.”
Stanza 2 (vs.11-20): A Hymn
o How did the psalmist’s remembering change from verse 3 to verse 11-12?
o What does the psalmist affirm about God in verses 13-15?
o Verses 16-19 are a song/hymn that breaks into the 4-verse phrase that began in verse 13 and then concludes in verse 20. What is the theme of that song? What story(s) in the Old Testament does it make you remember?
o Verse 20 completes the story of God’s faithfulness left off in verse 15. What effect does it create to have one song break into the other?