Recently, someone in an online forum asked about Asaph’s Psalms. She came across an article about Asaph and was curious to know which of the Psalms were written by him.
Given the extensive research I did in theology college, I was happy to share my in-depth knowledge on the subject to help her understand.
Inspired by that discussion, I decided to share my knowledge with a wider audience who may also be asking, “How many Psalms did Asaph write?”
Join me in studying these Psalms, who Asaph was, and his role in Scripture among many other facts. Let’s get started.
What does the word Asaph mean in the Bible?
The word Asaph means gatherer or convener. The Old Testament points to three men bearing this name.
The first was a Levite appointed by King David to lead worship in the Tabernacle (1 Chronicles 6:39), the second was a court recorder during King Hezekiah’s reign (2 Kings 18:18), and the third was the keeper of the King Artexerxes’ forest mentioned in Nehemiah 2:8.
Who was the Asaph mentioned in the Book of Psalms?
Asaph was a Levite appointed by King David in 1 Chronicles 6:31-32 to lead worship in the Tabernacle. He was the son of Berechiah and the ancestor (or founder) of the Asaphites.
He is credited with composing the 12 Psalms attributed to Asaph.
Asaph was gifted. The Bible refers to him as a skilled musician and seer (2 Chronicles 29:30). Besides composing music, Asaph is believed to have founded the Asaphites (or sons of Asaph) – a group of musicians who followed his musical style and served in the temple.
What were the Psalms of Asaph?
These were 12 Psalms attributed to Asaph. The first of these was Psalm 50, found in Book II. The others are found in Book III (Psalm 73 – 83).
Most of these are laments and calls for deliverance and justice. Scholars believe Asaph spent part of his ministry leading Israel in lament and repentance.
When did Asaph write the Psalms?
It’s unclear when Asaph wrote the Psalms. Scholars hold two opinions regarding this. The first suggests he composed them during David and Solomon’s reigns.
This makes sense because we know David appointed Asaph as a minister in the Tabernacle, and Asaph participated in the dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 5:12).
The second suggests another Asaph (or one of the Asaphites) composed some of them during the Babylonian exile. Scholars believe Psalms 74, 79, and 83 were written during the Babylonian invasions.
What themes does Asaph talk about in the Psalms?
Asaph’s Psalms carry themes like God’s judgment, the people’s cries for help, and a challenge to follow God’s law.
As mentioned, Psalms 74, 79, and 83 speak of God’s judgment over Israel.
For instance, Psalm 79:5-7 describes God’s judgment over Israel: “How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name; for they have devoured Jacob and devastated his homeland.”
Scholars believe this was a reference to the Babylonian invasion.
The people’s cries for help
This theme is associated with the first. Asaph cries out for God’s help when faced with danger, presumably from the enemies attacking.
For instance, in Psalm 74:22, Asaph begs God for help when oppressed by enemies: “Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.”
A challenge to follow God’s law
Psalm 73 portrays an image of the wicked prospering. It’s Asaph’s cry as he tries to live for God in a sinful society. Christians interpret this as a challenge to fix their eyes on Jesus.
What is the main message of Psalms of Asaph?
Most of Asaph’s Psalms are categorized as communal laments. They are concerned with the well-being of Israel in light of the destruction she faces from her enemies.
Asaph balances his cries for help with glimpses of hope as he reflects on God’s mercy in the past. This is seen in Psalm 83.
Why did Asaph write Psalm 73?
Psalm 73 records Asaph’s personal struggle. He observed the wicked’s prosperity. At one point, he laments about the futility of a righteous life (Psalm 73:13-14).
However, he got a new perspective after being in the Lord’s sanctuary. This Psalm encourages you to take refuge in God.
As a theologian, I have always been curious to learn more about the Christian Faith. That is why I pursued a Certificate in Christian Studies, Certificate in Christian Foundations and a Masters in Theology. I also have an immersive experience in editing for numerous websites. I have worked as an editor for over a decade and am currently the editor-in-chief at Christian Faith Guide. I enjoy working as an editor and feel privileged to share my expertise and help spread God’s word. You can read more about me on the about us page.