In this psalm, Asaph praises God and encourages everyone who is suffering to be patient and wait on God to deliver them from their troubles. He knows that God will deliver them, but only when God decides this will happen.
Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.
1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.
2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.
3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.
4. How it was used.
The heading tells us that this was written for the director of music. Some commentators believe that the ‘director of music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6.
The psalm was a song which was to be directed to the ‘tune of do not destroy’, no one knows what this tune was. Asaph was the singer and musician during the reign of David and Solomon, 1 Chronicles 15:17-19 / 1 Chronicles 16:5-7 / 1 Chronicles 25:6. 1 Chronicles 25:1 and 2 Chronicles 29:30 tell us that Asaph was a prophet in his musical compositions.
Despite the troubles Asaph and God’s people were enduring, Asaph begins by emphasising twice, that he and God’s people will praise God. He knows that God’s Name is near, Exodus 34:14-15 / Isaiah 30:27 / Jeremiah 23:23 / Acts 2:21, that is, he knows that God is present, and they praise God because of His wonderful deeds.
Asaph now thinks of things from God’s perspective, it is God who will choose when to deliver His people from their troubles and when their troubles will come to an end. It is God who will judge with equity. Genesis 18:25.
This is a lesson we all must learn, God has His own timetable and we must be patient for Him to do what is right at the time He appoints, Galatians 4:4 / Revelation 6:10.
God declares when the earth and everyone in quakes, it is Him who holds the pillars firm. In other words, God’s judgments are powerful and they are firmly established, Psalm 107:26 / Job 30:22 / Isaiah 64:7 / Nahum 1:5. Asaph compares the earth with a building supported by pillars, Judges 16:26 / 1 Samuel 2:8 / 1 Timothy 3:15.
You may notice at the end of verse three, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.
We can almost imagine Asaph pausing for a breath as he contemplates when God will deliver His people from their troubles.
The wicked people are arrogant and proud, Psalm 14:1, and God warns those who boast to stop boasting and stop relying on their own strength.
The word ‘horn’ refers to strength and these boastful people were boasting about their own strength, Job 16:15 / Daniel 7:7-8 / Daniel 7:11 / Daniel 7:21 / Daniel 8:5 / Daniel 8:8-9 / Daniel 8:21. God warns them not to speak defiant words of rebellion against Him.
God also warns the boastful, those who rely on their own strength, no matter where they are from, not to exalt themselves, because it is God who judges with justice. It is God who brings down the proud and it is God who exalts the humble, Matthew 23:12 / Luke 14:11 / Luke 18:14 / Philippians 2:3-4 / James 4:10 / 1 Peter 5:5-6.
Asaph now uses the metaphor of a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices, this speaks of God’s certain judgment, Job 21:20 / Psalm 60:3 / Isaiah 51:17 / Revelation 14:10.
God has a ‘cup’ in His hand for the people to drink, and the wicked will be forced to drink it. Foaming wine is a wine which has fermented, and the wicked are forced to drink every last bitter drop, Isaiah 25:6. In other words, the wicked people will suffer all that there is in the justice of God.
After speaking about the judgment which awaits those who are wicked, Asaph declares that he will sing praises to God and rejoice in the judgments of God, Psalm 24:6. The righteous will give glory to Him for His protection of the righteous.
God, Himself has the last word and declares that He will bring down the proud and the wicked who relied on their own strength. He says that not only will he bring the proud and wicked down but His judgments will also exalt the strength of the righteous.
In His time, God will cut off the powers of the wicked in order to exalt the power of the righteous.