To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph.
1 I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted.
3 I remembered God, and was troubled;
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah
4 You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
6 I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.
7 Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
8 Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah
10 And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples.
15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were afraid;
The depths also trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
The skies sent out a sound;
Your arrows also flashed about.
18 The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known.
20 You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Jeduthun (Intro) — A Levite, chief singer and instructor, father of one of the three families of Levitical singers. See 1 Chronicles 9:16; 16:38-42; 25:1-6; 2 Chronicles 5:12; 35:15; Nehemiah 11:17. He is also mentioned in the inscriptions of Psalms 39 and 62.
While there is no objection in principle to hearing in this psalm the voice of communal distress, expressed in individual terms—a view almost unanimous among the older commentators—or the voice of an individual interceding on behalf of afflicted Israel, as recent commentators suggest, the exceedingly personal terms of the psalm are best explained if we assume an individual sufferer seeking comfort in God and finding help in meditating on God’s well-remembered acts of redemption for His people. … It is more helpful to picture the psalmist as one whose spirit is overwhelmed—for whatever cause. — Guthrie, page 499.
In the first half, self is predominant. In the second, God is seen in His glory. … In verses 1 to 9 there are 22 occurrences of the personal pronoun in the first person, and 11 references to God by name, title, and pronoun. In the second there are only 3 personal references and 24 mentions of God. — Morgan, page 142.
There are resemblances [to this psalm] in Habakkuk 3:8-15, so it was probably composed before the end of Josiah’s reign, in which Habakkuk lived. The carrying away of the ten tribes and the imminent captivity of Judah may have furnished the occasion of this sad lament. — Meyer, page 94.
Verses 1-10 — The psalmist begins with a sincere, heartfelt expression of his need for comfort, for which he turns to the only one who can truly bring his soul comfort: the Lord (v.2). Recognizing, like David, that the essence of worship is the affirmation of who God is, the psalmist addresses Him here as an intimate, as a son might address his father (or a patient his psychiatrist), for in addition to being his Creator and Sovereign, the LORD is also his “adoptive” father and the lover of his soul. Hence Asaph holds nothing back, but in “remembering” (i.e., turning to) God, expresses his distress and pours out his complaint. — Wechsler, page 193.
troubled (v.3) = I express my distress. Otherwise, it seems like Asaph was troubled because he remembered God.
Verses 7-9 express six questions, each expecting a “no” for an answer.
Verses 11-15 — The principle of finding comfort in the LORD, affirms Asaph, is to remember His deeds and His wonders of old—i.e., His past works of divine solicitude and deliverance, expressive of His lovingkindness as grounded in His unconditional covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The “remembering” here intended, moreover, specifically entails “mediation.” — Wechsler, pages 193-194.
God’s way is in the sanctuary, i.e., it is holy (v.13); but it is also in the sea, i.e., it is full of mystery (v.19).
Verses 16-20 — The specific example of God’s solicitude and deliverance here selected for meditation is a favorite one in the Asaphic psalms—to with: the first example of such on behalf of His people Israel, at the exodus (referenced by Asaph also in Psalms 74:13-15; 76:5-7; 78:13; 80:8a; and 81:6, 10a). Meditating on this event is a deep source of comfort to the psalmist, for in it was displayed not only God’s awesome power and might in defending His people against a much more powerful enemy, but also His parental (i.e., intimate and unconditional) nurture and compassion in leading His people like a flock (v.20), despite their spiritual immaturity and continued rebellion. — Wechsler, page 194.
The thunderstorm here described (vs.16-19) may be a reference to Exodus 14:24.
Your footsteps were not know (v.19) — perhaps a reference to the fact that the waters of the Red Sea wiped out evidence—but not the memory—of God’s protection.
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