I love reading the psalms, they are heartfelt songs and prayers to God about the life of faith in good times, and more importantly, in bad times also. The psalmist is brutally honest with God.
Book three of the psalms (psalms 73 to 89) is 10 Psalms written by Asaph, psalms written under lockdown conditions.
Reading all 10 in one go gets you into the mind of Asaph, his situation, his thoughts, his feelings, and his actions under lockdown. Try reading them and be inspired as you empathise with his feelings and contemplate his response to God.
Psalm 73 – God is good
Asaph opens Psalm 73 with a statement of faith
‘Truly God is good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart.’Psalm 73:1
and ends with his conclusion saying,
‘But for me it is good to be near God;Psalm 73:28
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all thy works.’
In between these two verses we have Asaph’s journey through his lockdown experience.
Verse 2 illustrates how deep and dangerous it was.
‘But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had well nigh slipped.’
My feet had almost stumbled
Asaph’s lockdown experience had almost made shipwreck of his faith statement of verse 1.
But what had actually caused this faltering of faith?
Asaph lost his ‘God focus’
He took his eyes off what God was doing and looked at the lives of those around him. In verses 3 to 12 Asaph tells us what the ungodly had in contrast to his situation.
In our lockdown we can become like Asaph.
We can begin to feel that everything is against us,
That we are hemmed in,
That life is not fair.
The media can cause us to become fearful and unsettled as they continually churn the covid gloom 24 hours a day.
For some the losses are enormous as they grieve the loss of a loved one.
Many are fearful viewing the employment situation is in crisis, and the economy is in taters.
If we are not careful, our thoughts can focus on the world view and then we allow the world’s focus to take over our minds.
Asaph had arrived at that place in v13-14
‘All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken, and chastened every morning.’
Asaph’s selfish focus had made him envious and arrogant, v3. It embittered his soul, v21. He acted stupidly and arrogantly towards his God, v22; and the whole process wore him out, v22
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task.’
When we lose our ‘God Focus,’ our focus then gets diverted onto ourselves, and like Asaph,
we get envious of others and our feelings take over,
we lose our peace and joy in Jesus,
we get bitter and complain about our lot.
All of this wears us out.
The pathway back
The pathway back to a ‘God Focused’ vision is sometimes a process we have to go through.
Maybe we need to shout out at God, tell him what we think ….
Asaph did! right here in these 10 Psalms of his.
The way back starts by going back to God as Asaph did.
He testified in v16-17,
’It seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God.’
Asaph went into the sanctuary of God.
He found his way back into the presence of God and two things happened.
- His understanding of the situation of others was clarified,
God will deal with those that seemed to be in a better position than him, v17-20.
- His understanding of His situation was clarified.
God was continually supporting Asaph in his situation, v23.
He is led by God’s counsel towards his heavenly destination, v24.
There is nobody in heaven or upon the earth to compare with his God, v25.
God is his strength and portion, v26.
We see the outcome of refocusing on God in verse 26
‘But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all thy works,’
Asaph bursts into praise.
It was good to be in lockdown!
It caused him to draw near to God.
It caused him to Make God his refuge
and discover the purposes of God for his life in lockdown,
God had used lockdown to make Asaph a witness to those around him so that Asaph could tell of all of God’s works
Wow! what an end to Asaph’s story.
Where are we on the journey?
Where are we on our lockdown journey of faith?
We may be at the beginning of this journey feeling that all is just too much,
we may be coping well and getting through by the grace of God.
Whatever stage we find ourselves at today, let’s walk with Asaph towards this glorious end.
Ask God to be with you and give you his grace to tell the world about our amazing Saviour who is our hope and salvation – even in times of lockdown.