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Psalm 74

Plea for Help in Time of National Humiliation

A Maskil of Asaph.

1

O God, why do you cast us off forever?

Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?

2

Remember your congregation, which you acquired long ago,

which you redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage.

Remember Mount Zion, where you came to dwell.

3

Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;

the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary.

 

4

Your foes have roared within your holy place;

they set up their emblems there.

5

At the upper entrance they hacked

the wooden trellis with axes.

6

And then, with hatchets and hammers,

they smashed all its carved work.

7

They set your sanctuary on fire;

they desecrated the dwelling place of your name,

bringing it to the ground.

8

They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;

they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.

 

9

We do not see our emblems;

there is no longer any prophet,

and there is no one among us who knows how long.

10

How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?

Is the enemy to revile your name forever?

11

Why do you hold back your hand;

why do you keep your hand in your bosom?

 

12

Yet God my King is from of old,

working salvation in the earth.

13

You divided the sea by your might;

you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters.

14

You crushed the heads of Leviathan;

you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.

15

You cut openings for springs and torrents;

you dried up ever-flowing streams.

16

Yours is the day, yours also the night;

you established the luminaries and the sun.

17

You have fixed all the bounds of the earth;

you made summer and winter.

 

18

Remember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs,

and an impious people reviles your name.

19

Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild animals;

do not forget the life of your poor forever.

 

20

Have regard for your covenant,

for the dark places of the land are full of the haunts of violence.

21

Do not let the downtrodden be put to shame;

let the poor and needy praise your name.

22

Rise up, O God, plead your cause;

remember how the impious scoff at you all day long.

23

Do not forget the clamor of your foes,

the uproar of your adversaries that goes up continually.


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Ps 74:1-23. If the historical allusions of Ps 74:6-8, &c., be referred, as is probable, to the period of the captivity, the author was probably a descendant and namesake of Asaph, David's contemporary and singer (compare 2Ch 35:15; Ezr 2:41). He complains of God's desertion of His Church, and appeals for aid, encouraging himself by recounting some of God's mighty deeds, and urges his prayer on the ground of God's covenant relation to His people, and the wickedness of His and their common enemy.

1. cast … off—with abhorrence (compare Ps 43:2; 44:9). There is no disavowal of guilt implied. The figure of fire to denote God's anger is often used; and here, and in De 29:20, by the word "smoke," suggests its continuance.

sheep … pasture—(Compare Ps 80:1; 95:7).

2. The terms to denote God's relation to His people increase in force: "congregation"—"purchased"—"redeemed"—"Zion," His dwelling.

3. Lift … feet—(Ge 29:1)—that is, Come (to behold) the desolations (Ps 73:19).

4. roar—with bestial fury.

congregations—literally, "worshipping assemblies."

ensigns—literally, "signs"—substituted their idolatrous objects, or tokens of authority, for those articles of the temple which denoted God's presence.

5, 6. Though some terms and clauses here are very obscure, the general sense is that the spoilers destroyed the beauties of the temple with the violence of woodmen.

was famous—literally, "was known."

6. carved work—(1Ki 6:29).

thereof—that is, of the temple, in the writer's mind, though not expressed till Ps 74:7, in which its utter destruction by fire is mentioned (2Ki 25:9; Isa 64:11).

7. defiled—or, "profaned," as in Ps 89:39.

8. together—at once, all alike.

synagogues—literally, "assemblies," for places of assembly, whether such as schools of the prophets (2Ki 4:23), or "synagogues" in the usual sense, there is much doubt.

9. signs—of God's presence, as altar, ark, &c. (compare Ps 74:4; 2Ch 36:18, 19; Da 5:2).

no more any prophet—(Isa 3:2; Jer 40:1; 43:6).

how long—this is to last. Jeremiah's prophecy (Jer 25:11), if published, may not have been generally known or understood. To the bulk of the people, during the captivity, the occasional and local prophetical services of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel would not make an exception to the clause, "there is no more any prophet."

10. (Compare Ps 31:1).

how long … reproach?—us, as deserted of God.

blaspheme thy name—or, "perfections," as power, goodness, &c. (Ps 29:2).

11. Why cease to help us? (Compare Ps 3:7; 7:6; 60:5).

12. For—literally, "And," in an adversative sense.

13-15. Examples of the "salvation wrought" are cited.

divide the sea—that is, Red Sea.

brakest … waters—Pharaoh and his host (compare Isa 51:9, 10; Eze 29:3, 4).

14. heads of leviathan—The word is a collective, and so used for many.

the people … wilderness—that is, wild beasts, as conies (Pr 30:25, 26), are called a people. Others take the passages literally, that the sea monsters thrown out on dry land were food for the wandering Arabs.

15. cleave the fountain—that is, the rocks of Horeb and Kadesh; for fountains.

driedst up—Jordan, and, perhaps, Arnon and Jabbok (Nu 21:14).

16, 17. The fixed orders of nature and bounds of earth are of God.

18. (Compare Ps 74:10; De 32:6). The contrast is striking—that such a God should be thus insulted!

19. multitude—literally, "beast," their flock or company of men (Ps 68:10).

turtledove—that is, the meek and lonely Church.

congregation—literally, "the company," as above—thus the Church is represented as the spoiled and defeated remnant of an army, exposed to violence.

20. And the prevalence of injustice in heathen lands is a reason for invoking God's regard to His promise (compare Nu 14:21; Ps 7:16; 18:48).

21. oppressed—broken (Ps 9:9).

return—from seeking God.

ashamed—(Ps 35:4).

22, 23. (Compare Ps 3:7; 7:6). God hears the wicked to their own ruin (Ge 4:10; 18:20).




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