July 12 2023
Today, Wednesday July 12
“You Have Made Summer and Winter”
A Contemplation of Asaph
“For God is my King from of old, Working salvation in the midst of the earth.
You divided the sea by Your strength; You broke the heads of the sea serpents in the waters. You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces, And gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness. You broke open the fountain and the flood; You dried up mighty rivers. The day is Yours, the night also is Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun. You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter..”
We believe that the writer of Psalm 74 is a descendant of the Asaph that David had appointed to lead the worship in the tabernacle during his reign, which was from 1000 B.C. to 960 B.C. After the reign of Solomon, David’s son, the kingdom of Israel fell apart, and for the most part had one bad king after another who lead the people into idolatry and sinful living. They still had Solomon’s temple and all the trappings of religion outwardly. They acknowledged and worship God with their mouths, but their hearts were far from Him.
God sent prophet after prophet to warn them that He was going to punished them if they didn’t repent. But they refused to listen or repent. Jeremiah the prophet, one of the last prophets just before the captivity, prophesied specifically that at this point there was no longer any reason to fight the Babylonians, because they would be going into captivity for seventy years. His prophecy was fulfilled in 587-86 B.C. when the Babylonian army invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the temple and the city.
This is when the descendant of Asaph, a man with the same name, wrote this Psalm. He begins by looking around and describing the terrible destruction of the land and the temple. His heart is broken as he sees the enemy take their pagan banners into the temple and desecrate it. (v. 4). He moans over the fact that the prophets are gone, and no one is telling them how long this destruction will last (v. 9). It appears the God has totally forsaken His people and is Himself silent. So, Asaph cries out for God to wake up and “take His hand out of his bosom” or His garment and arise and destroy the enemy (v. 11).
When we come to verse 12 something changes! Verse 12 is the central verse of the Psalm and the turning point in Asaph's experience. He lifted his eyes by faith from the burning ruins of the earthly temple of God in Jerusalem to the holy throne of God in the heavens and received a new perspective on the situation. You might remember that the Asaph who wrote Psalm 73 had a similar experience. His was more personal one as he found himself envious of the ungodly people who prospered while the godly and righteous people suffered. But it all changed for him when he went into the sanctuary (Psalm 73:17).
When this Asaph of Psalm 74 quit looking around at all the terrible destruction happening, and began to look up, he acknowledged that no matter how discouraging his situation was, God was still on the throne and had not abdicated His authority to the Babylonians. Jeremiah came to the same conclusion in Lam. 5:19. In these verses, 12-17, you can’t help but notice the repetition of the “You" pronoun in this paragraph.
Asaph remembered that God brings "salvations" (plural) on the earth (v. 12)! Asaph then reviewed the "salvation works" of God in the past. How the Lord orchestrated Israel's exodus and the defeat of the "monster" Egypt (vv. 13-14; Ex. 12-15). How God opened up the Red Sea. How God provided water in the wilderness (15a; Ex. 17; Num. 20), and opened the Jordan River so Israel could enter Canaan (15b; Josh. 3-4).
Asaph even reached back to creation (v. 16; Gen. 1-2) and the assignment of territory to the nations (v. 17a; Gen. 10-11; Acts 17:26). He concludes this statement with “You have made summer and winter” (v. 17b). Summer is the warm, comfortable time of rain and fruitfulness! A time of plenty and blessing! But the same God who made the summer also made the “winter”. A time of biting cold and storms, trials and tribulation! The sun does not shine much, and everything seems to have died. But that is the time the plants are growing their roots deeper into the soil so they will be more fruitful in the summer.
My friend, during your time of pain and suffering, remember that God is still a mighty God! He is a mighty King! He has a purpose for the “winter” times as well as the “summer” times! So, when the outlook is bleak, try the uplook like Asaph did and be encouraged!