4Glorious are you, more majestic than the mountains of prey. 5The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil; they sank into sleep; all the men of war were unable to use their hands. 6At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both rider and horse lay stunned.
The Story: Asaph leads the people to praise the majesty and might of the Lord. In the psalms God is typically presented in His transcendent greatness; He is God over all, above all, and ruling all. Recall that, in Asaph’s day, the world was flocking to Jerusalem to admire the greatness of Solomon. He had not come to greatness by military conquest. God had given Solomon wisdom and enabled him to become the greatest rule of His day. But the focus was shifting from God to the glories of Jerusalem in Asaph’s day, and he was raised up in order to help the people of Israel keep things in a proper perspective. God’s majesty was more awesome than Solomon’s by far – greater even than the majestic mountains surrounding the city of Jerusalem. His power was greater than the all the enemies that might threaten Israel’s security. Just a word from the Lord, and His enemies would fall helpless before Him. The people of Israel in Solomon’s days were in danger of losing their focus; just like Solomon, they had begun to cherish life “under the sun” rather than “under the heavens.” To Asaph, among others, fell the task of helping the people to “lift up their eyes” to the hills, and to the Lord their Savior and Deliverer, before it was too late.
The Structure: It is always a function of worship to help re-orient the people of God. Out and about in the world it’s very easy for us to begin to think that our greatest blessings are material, our greatest resources human, and our greatest needs to gratify the desires of our flesh. In worship God’s people find their proper perspective on life, as they wonder at the greatness of God, adore and thank Him for His might and power, and submit again to His divine economy and eternal purposes. Worship that compromises the transcendence of God, or focuses too much on His immanence (“with us”), does not accomplish the purpose of worship such as is indicated in Psalm 76. Similarly, worship that focuses more on the interests, tastes, and concerns of people (“How did you like the service?”) cannot bring us into the presence of the God of all glory and might.
How would you describe the focus of worship in your church? Does worship cause you to look up and wonder, in praise and humility, at the greatness of God? Or does it speak merely to your own desires and those of your fellow worshipers?
For more insight on reading the Psalms, get the book, How to Read the Psalms, by Tremper Longman III.
The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.