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Discover the Arts! Each day a different image from the Literary, Performing, or Visual Arts representing a portion of Scripture
plus an explanation with links

2015 April 15

Demolition of L'Eglise des Saints Innocents, Paris (c. 1787)
Pierre-Antoine de Machy (1723-1807)
Baroque Style; Trompe-l'oeil Technique
Private Collection
Image Source: Web Gallery of Art

     Explanation: In Psalm 73 Asaph confesses his envy of the wicked and shows how he recovered spiritually. In Asaph's day holy things were disrespected and righteous people were afflicted; but wicked people prospered. This state of affairs is symbolized by today's painting which depicts the destruction of a church to make way for a marketplace. In addition, there is an irony in the title of the painting, which, translated is, "The Church of the Holy Innocents."

          [ THEMATICALLY AND CHRONOLOGICALLY RELATED SCRIPTURES: WISDOM PSALMS. Psalm 1. Psalm 10. Psalm 12. Psalm 15. Psalm 19. Psalm 32. Psalm 34. Psalm 36. Psalm 37. Psalm 49. Psalm 50. Psalm 52. Psalm 53. Psalm 73. Psalm 78. Psalm 82. Psalm 91. Psalm 92. Psalm 94. Psalm 111. Psalm 112. Psalm 119. Psalm 127. Psalm 128. Psalm 133. Psalm 139. ]

          [ CHRONOLOGY: GENERAL. Patriarchs (Traditional). Judges # 1. Judges # 2. Kings # 1. Kings # 2. Prophets # 1. Prophets # 2. NT # 1. NT # 2. NT # 3. ]

          [ MAPS: Maps # 1. Maps # 2. Maps # 3. Maps # 4. Maps # 5. ]

          [ COMMENTARIES, ETC: GENERAL: Bible Study Tools; Bible Hub: Study Light; Blue Letter Bible // PSALMS: Monergism: Precept Austin: The Treasury of David; John Gill; John Calvin - Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

          [ MUSIC: GENERAL: The Cyber Hymnal // PSALMS: Genevan Psalter (Instrumental). VARIOUS ARTISTS: Psalm 73 - #1. Psalm 73 - #2. Psalm 73 - #3. Psalm 73 - #4. Psalm 73 - #5. Psalm 73 - #6. Psalm 73 - #7. Psalm 73 - #8. Psalm 73 - #9. Psalm 73 - #10. ]

     Asaph states his "thesis sentence" at the beginning of the Psalm. He says that God is good to those who have a clean heart (1). However, before he arrived at that conclusion, he went through a spiritual struggle, which he recounts in the Psalm. He said that, spiritually, his feet had almost slipped because he was envious at the prosperity of the wicked. Instead of being judged by God, they were prosperous; their deaths were peaceful; their strength endured; they were not troubled and plagued like other men; they were covered with pride; they were violent; they are fat; they had more than they could wish for; they were corrupt, wicked, and boastful (2-9). Therefore their supporters return to them (constantly) because they find no fault in them. They think that God does not know about them. They are always at ease; and they increase their riches (10-12). These facts made Asaph feel like he had cleansed his heart and his hands in vain. He was stricken and rebuked daily. He was afraid to say these things because he did not want to betray God's children (13-15). Nevertheless, the pain of trying to understand his plight was wearisome to him until he went to the sanctuary and discerned their end. He then realized that God had put them in slippery places; and he makes them to fall into ruin. They are destroyed and swept away by terror in a moment. God will despise them as if they were a dream (16-20). When Asaph's soul was embittered he was pained in his heart. He was brutish and ignorant, like a beast. Nevertheless, he was still in God's care; and God held his right hand. God will guide him with his counsel; and afterward he will receive him to glory. He has no one in heaven but God; and he desires nothing on earth besides God (21-25). Asaph's flesh and heart may fail, but God is his strength and portion forever. Those who are far from God will perish; and God puts to an end everyone who is unfaithful to him. Asaph says, in conclusion, that it is good to be near God; and he has made the Lord God his refuge, so that he may tell others of his works (26-28).



Psalms 73-89.

Psalm 73

1 A Psalm of Asaph.

Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.
3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.
7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.
9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.

10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.
11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?
12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.

13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.

16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.
19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.

21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.
24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.
28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.

* NOTE: On Opening and Closing Comments in the Psalms.
[Some commentators take the Psalm in Habakkuk 3 to be a standard model for the Psalms.
Habakkuk's Psalm begins with the name of the composer (Habakkuk) and a musical notation ("upon Shigionoth").
It closes with a dedication or a "send to" notice ("To the chief singer on my stringed instruments").
I have arranged similar material, where it is found in the Psalter, in accord with the model in Habakkuk.]

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