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Who was Asaph?

We read the Psalms and think of David. Slayer of giants, musician, singer, King, David was a man after God’s own heart. He was multi-talented and wrote many of the Psalms, which are songs. But did you know that David wrote only half of the Psalms? Solomon, David’s son and successor wrote 2 of them. Moses is assigned authorship of Psalm 90, a prayer. The sons of Korah wrote 11 psalms while Psalm 88’s authorship is attributed to Heman, and one is assigned to Ethan the Ezrahite.

Another group of 21 psalms is ascribed to the Asaph and his descendants. Asaph is assigned authorship of Psalms 50 and 73-83. So, who was Asaph?

Asaph was a Levite music leader, leading the Tabernacle choir. (1 Chronicles 6:33, 39). His name means “to gather together” which is a great name for a congregational music leader. He is mentioned along with David as skilled in music, and of course not only did he write songs and play instruments but he was also a skilled singer. Interestingly, Asaph is also a seer, (2 Chronicles 29:30) which is a prophet who sees visions.

SEER (chozeh). Generally synonymous with the role of the prophet (e.g., 2 Sam 24:11; 1 Chr 21:9; Amos 7:12). However, at times, it is used as a distinct term from that of prophet (2 Kgs 17:13). Seer, by connotation of the Hebrew word affiliated with it being connected to the idea of receiving a vision (חֹזֶה, chozeh), may be more connected to the idea of visions than the prophetic word, although this is not necessarily the case in all usages. Barry, J. D. (2016). Seer. The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

In Psalm 73, of Asaph, we read that the author was angry and discontent with the sleekness and seeming prosperity of the wicked. He mourned their health and prosperity, and wondered if his own efforts at a narrow walk and holiness were in vain. Then comes the turning point of the Psalm at verse 16-17-

But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end
. (Psalm 73:16-17).

It is this way with us. Until you enter the prayer closet, or the sanctuary, and inquire of God, you will be disgruntled. Communing with God in prayer or song relieves the stormy heart and soothes the troubled mind.

We’re grateful that the Spirit inspired the Psalms and included them in the Bible for us to be refreshed by. We see that the human condition of faltering, wondering, coveting the wicked’s prosperous way are not new. We see also that our faithful God is always there, and can and does comfort us. As Asaph ended his Psalm,

For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works

Let us tell of Jesus’ works today.

old harp singing
EPrata photo


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.