In the second stanza (vv. 3-6) Asaph tells the reader a bit more about his depressed state of mind, explaining in verses 5 and 6 that what troubled him most in his musings was the memory of former days when he was happy enough in God to sing songs in the night. The important word in this stanza is “remember,” which also reappears in stanza four. Here he is remembering his former happiness. In stanza four he remembers the mighty deeds of God (v. 11), which is a significant shift of his focus.

One thing you have to say about Asaph: he tells it like it is. He is respectful, but if he is unhappy or puzzled about what God is doing in the lives of his people (or not doing), he says so. And he describes his own state of mind, too—his doubts and struggles, his questions and his inability to find satisfying answers to life's great problems.

There are always people who are angry at God's judgments, even at the thought of them. They want to tell God that he is unjust to judge, that he cannot act that way. But that is a futile response. God will do as he will do. If we are wise, we will pursue another line entirely. What should that be? In the final stanza of the psalm (vv. 11, 12), the writer makes two suggestions.

It is a natural practice of the psalmists to reflect on the meaning of some great historical event, projecting it onto an even larger screen. That is what happens here in a string of theological comments woven in with the historical descriptions. These deal with the nature and inevitability of God's judgments generally and may even point, as I suggested earlier, to the great final judgment of the last days.

In spite of the way I have handled this first stanza, using it to ask who God is and where knowledge of the true God may be found, we must not think that the subject matter of this psalm is theoretical. This is not a matter for polite debate with little or no consequences attached. According to this psalm, this true God is a righteous Judge whose wrath is constantly hanging over those who are enemies both of himself and of his people.