The Unknown Prophet


Well-Known Member
I found this posting online and thought many of you would like to read about the "Prophet" Asaph.
Written by Richard Thompson
The Unknown Prophet -Faith among the Ruins


Would you believe that there is a prophet who wrote more of the Bible than thirteen of its well known authors yet is virtually unknown? He wrote about one of the most crucial periods in the history of Israel, yet few even recognize that he wrote about that time. His writings were quoted by Jesus Christ himself in the New Testament yet few seem to understand what the quotation means. It seems incredible, but it is true. The prophet I am talking about was named Asaph, and his writings can be found in the Psalms.

The first time I read the twelve Psalms of Asaph (Psalms 50 & 73-83), I looked in the Bible notes and reference books to find out about them, and who Asaph was. I was informed that though the Biblical superscription before each of these psalms said "A Psalm of Asaph", they really weren't written by Asaph! The speculation was that these psalms were probably written by the descendants of Asaph over a period of at least 400 years and were not written by Asaph himself. It always troubles me when the Bible says one thing, and "experts" contradict it. Particularly since these "experts" said they were believers in the inerrancy of scripture. Why should such men say these things? The people in Hezekiah's time (circa 700 BC) seemed to regard the Psalms of Asaph as being written by one man:

2 Chronicles 29:30 "King Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer."

Every one of these Psalms had the clear inscription indicating that these were "of Asaph." So, in denying his authorship, the commentators were ignoring the clear statement of scripture. The reason they took this view was that the Asaph's Psalms 74 and 79 speak of a destruction of the Temple. At least as early as the time of Calvin commentators have assumed this destruction was the Babylonian destruction of 585 BC. If that was true, Psalms 74 and 79 must necessarily have been written after 585 BC almost 310 years after the first mention of the historical Asaph in scripture. While the Bible records that God is fond of using men who should be weak with old age to show that their power is of God, I have to concede that it is unlikely that Asaph could have lived to be over 300 years old. If I conceded that Asaph didn't write Psalms 74 and 79, I also would have to concede that his authorship of the rest of the Psalms of Asaph was doubtful. Having digested these facts, I unhappily concluded that the commentators were probably right.

However, that was not the end of the story. In later years my studies led me to do a lot of reading about the significance of the Temple. As I studied about all the desecrations the Temple underwent I began to see clearly that, as I show in Appendix 6, it was not the Babylonian destruction of the Temple which was in view in the Psalms 74 and 79. What these Psalms were talking about was the desecration of the Temple by the Egyptians under Shishak. This destruction was not as complete as the Babylonian one, but it left only the outer walls standing, and stripped it of all of its treasures. This destruction took place when Asaph was about 100 years old.

Therefore, the doubt about Asaph's authorship of his Psalms was removed. He did write every one of his Psalms! They all spoke of things he had witnessed!

These simple facts revolutionize the understanding of the Psalms of Asaph. We can read them as the thoughts of the historical Asaph, speaking through the Holy Spirit, reflecting on his experiences, and his time. The Psalms of Asaph include Psalm 50 and Psalms 73 through 83. Even divorced from their author and their era, the Psalms of Asaph contain great truths. However, we lose so much of the meaning and relevance of their message when we don't read them in their proper context. I think you will find it makes a tremendous difference in understanding these Psalms.

This has reinforced me in my belief that it is important to take the Bible at its word. If the Bible says "Psalm of Asaph" that's what it means! If it means to say that it was written by the descendants of a person, like Korah, it says "Psalm of the Sons of Korah!" (Ten Psalms are so designated)


Well-Known Member
Thanks for this posting Kenny.

It's great to have some real scripture to discuss after some of today's stuff.

One thing of note about the Psalms is the established practice of our Bible translations, which treats the "Title" text that appears at the start of many of the Psalms as independent text and not as part of the first verse. Many translations will put it in italics and this gives the impression that maybe it's not part of the inspired text. Thus many people often skip this part of the Psalm instead of reading it. In so doing it falsely disempowers what is a legitimate part of God's word.

I recall being confused about this when I was younger. I was never sure whether it was scripture or was something that had been added at a later date.

So let's be clear. The ascription that appears before each Psalm is in fact the first sentence in the Hebrew Masoretic text and as such is part of each Psalm and should not be 'passed over'. It is part of God's word.

The first Bible to have verses divisions was the Geneva Bible published around 1560. However, the Hebrew text used by the Jews uses slightly different verse and chapter divisions. In the case of the Psalms the 'titles' are usually the first verse.