1 (A Psalm of Asaph.) O Elohim, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.

2 The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

3 Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.

4 We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.

5 How long, Yahweh? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?

6 Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.

7 For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.

8 O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.

9 Help us, O Elohim of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake.

10 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their Elohim? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed.

11 Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;

Hidden in the basket of good figs

During the reigns of Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, the nation quickly declined, as Josiah's descendants failed to uphold his work of spiritual reform. Almost immediately the onrush of the Babylonians began, with successive waves of deportations gradually diminishing the kingdom, until it fell.

In the first of these, Daniel and his companions were sent to Babylon. 1 In the second, both Ezekiel and Mordecai were taken into captivity. 2 In the third, Seraiah was slain, whilst Jeremiah was set free. 3 The singers formed part of the second group, with the House of Asaph among them. 4 Each group, however, were marched out of the land as captives of the Chaldeans.

The knowledge that God had permitted this filled the nation with astonishment and grief. Where were they going? How would they survive? What lay ahead? The uncertainties of the future were frightening, and a spirit of inconsolable grief gripped every heart.

One family, however, already knew how they would respond, and Yahweh had placed them for His purpose, into the basket of good figs. Their sound had been silenced for the moment, but the secrets of the Truth had not been overthrown in this cataclysm, for the words and music of the songs of Zion had been taken into captivity.

They travelled in the deepest recesses of a family's memory, and arrived at their destination undetected and undisturbed. The House of Asaph was in Babylon, but the heritage of divine worship had made the journey with them. Their evening hymn was no longer heard on the temple mount, but even now it was hidden in the fire of their hearts.

This family had not been sent into captivity by accident, for the hand of Yahweh was at work with them. Their destiny was bound with that of their captive brethren, whose spirit they would sustain until God was ready to acknowledge them. It was from these that Yahweh would find a remnant to return; 5 and this household had already purposed in vow that, when that moment came, they would be ready. 6

They had always been the guardians of Zion's songs, and a mere seventy years of living in the land of Shinar would not divert them from that cause.

1 Circa 606 BC in the third year of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:1-4; Daniel 1:1-6),

2 Circa 597 BC in the three-month reign of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:6-16; Ezekiel 1:1,2; Esther 2:6),

3 Circa 586 BC in the eleventh year of Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:8-12,18,20,21; Jeremiah 40:1-5).

4 In this second wave, all the treasures of the temple were removed (2 Kings 24:13), and only the poorest of the people were left (verse 14). The House of Asaph, in leaving with this group, were thereby included in those deemed to be the "good figs" (Jeremiah 24:1-5; 29:1,2).

5 Jeremiah 24:5-7.

6 Psalm 79:11-13.

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 9

12 And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.

13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.