Asaph, the one who is talked about in the book of Nehemiah, is also known as the keeper of the king’s forests. Since he isn’t a major character in the bible, much hasn’t been saying about him. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t play a significant role. While some versions of the bible refer to Asaph as the keeper of the king’s forest, others refer to him as the keeper of the royal park. Continue reading to find out why Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forests, is significant.
What’s the story of Asaph in the bible?
We come across the story of Asaph in the book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:8 to be specific). In this instance, Nehemiah approaches a man called Asaph, who is the keeper of the king’s forest, with a letter from the king himself. In that letter, the king asks Asaph to grant Nehemiah enough wood since he had proven himself not only a good worker but also a man with a strong faith in the Lord.
Asaph allowed Nehemiah to take as much timber as he needed. The timber was to be used to forge beams for the gates and the city wall as well. Some of the timber was also to be used to build the house upon which Nehemiah himself was to stay.
Asaph served King Artaxerxes of Persia, who had allowed Nehemiah to go back to the land of his ancestors and rebuild. Besides the land and wood to rebuild, the king also offered Nehemiah and his people some of his priced horses.
The Persians were also known for their fine breeds of horses, which is described in detail when Asaph rode towards Nehemiah on one of those amazing Persian horses. In the scriptures, the horses that Asaph rode when he came to meet Nehemiah for the first time were described as a large, black, muscled beast. Nehemiah identified himself as a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes.
Is Asaph of the Nehemiah the same as Asaph of the Psalms?
The latter is one of those questions that’ll keep bugging bible readers for eternity. There are two different kinds of Asaph’s in the bible. One was a Levite who was a servant at King David’s court. The latter Asaph is also referred to as Asaph of the psalms. Apart from being a composer and singer, Asaph of the psalms also doubled up as a bona fide seer who spoke openly about the corruption and rots within the King’s Court. Asaph the psalmist was also accredited with writing psalm 74.
The other one was also a Levite but came about at a completely different time. His name was also Asaph but he wasn’t a composer. The second Asaph is mentioned during the times of Nehemiah and was working under a Persian King named Artaxerxes as the keeper of his forests. You can find his accounts in the book of Nehemiah.
The reason why most people confuse between Asaph the psalmist and Asaph of Nehemiah’s time is simply that they were minor characters, or supporting characters if you will. Both of them also come from the Levite line. Another similarity between the two minor bible characters is that they were both diligent in their work. The latter explains why they won a lot of favor (and respect) from their respective kings. That said, the latter distinction should do it for you.
Was Asaph one of the prophets in the bible?
The answer to this question is a definite no. the Asaph from Nehemiah’s time worked under king Artaxerxes. It was Asaph the psalmist who was a seer as he foretold a few things that came to pass.
What is the significance of Asaph in the bible?
Of course, Asaph has to have significance, which explains why we had to do a whole piece about him. First, we learn that he is King Artaxerxes’ keeper of the forest. Kings of that time always took pride in having the best people working for them, which says volumes about Asaph’s work ethic.
Asaph was also extremely obedient to the king. The latter is shown when he didn’t question Nehemiah as soon as he produced a letter with the king’s seal. He immediately made arrangements to give Nehemiah the best wood to build a home for him and his people. The fact that he never second-guesses authority goes to show Christians the importance of doing the same.
Finally, Asaph was a man of integrity. Again, he could simply decide to shortchange Nehemiah since he was of a much higher rank. But, he chose to do his absolute best and deliver the best beams. He also offers Nehemiah protection as he takes back the beams for rebuilding. Even though the king had written the letter for Nehemiah, Asaph could’ve chosen to harm him if he wanted, but he chose not to do such a thing.