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74. Psalm 74

O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?

2Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.

3Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary.

4Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs.

5 A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees.

6But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers.

7They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling place of thy name to the ground.

8They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land.

9We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.

10O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?

11Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck it out of thy bosom.

12For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.

13Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.

14Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.

15Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers.

16The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun.

17Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.

18Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O Lord, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.

19O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever.

20Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.

21O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise thy name.

22Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily.

23Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually.

4. Thy adversaries have roared in the midst of thy sanctuaries. Here the people of God compare their enemies to lions, (Amos 3:8,) to point out the cruelty which they exercised even in the very sanctuaries of God. 218218     Instead of songs of praise and other acts of devotion, nothing was now heard in the Jewish places of worship but profane vociferation, and the tumultuous noise of a heathen army. This is with great beauty and effect compared to the roaring of a lion. In this passage we are to understand the temple of Jerusalem as spoken of rather than the Jewish synagogues; nor is it any objection to this interpretation that the temple is here called in the plural number sanctuaries, as is frequently the case in other places, it being so called because it was divided into three parts. If any, however, think it preferable to consider synagogues as intended, I would not dispute the point. Yea, without any impropriety, it may be extended to the whole land, which God had consecrated to himself. But the language is much more emphatic when we consider the temple as meant. It thus intimates, that the rage of the enemy was so unbounded and indiscriminate that they did not even spare the temple of God. When it is said, They have set up their signs, 219219     Hammond reads, “They set up their ensigns for trophies.” The original word both for ensigns and trophies is אות, oth But he observes that it requires here to be differently translated. אות, oth, signifies a sign, and thence a military standard or ensign The setting up of this in any place which has been taken by arms, is a token or sign of the victory achieved; and, accordingly, an ensign or standard thus set up becomes a trophy To convey, therefore, the distinctive meaning, he contends that it is necessary in this passage to give different renderings to the same word. this serves to show their insulting and contemptuous conduct, that in erecting their standards they proudly triumphed even over God himself. Some explain this of magical divinations, 220220     That is, they understand signs to mean such signs as diviners or soothsayers were wont to give, by which to foretell things to come. Jarchi, who adopts this interpretation, gives this sense: That the enemies of God’s people having completed their conquest according to the auspices or signs of soothsayers, were fully convinced that these signs were real signs; in other words, that the art of divination was true. even as Ezekiel testifies, (Ezekiel 21:21, 22,) that Nebuchadnezzar sought counsel from the flight and the voice of birds; but this sense is too restricted. The explanation which I have given may be viewed as very suitable. Whoever entered into the Holy Land knew that the worship of God which flourished there was of a special character, and different from that which was performed in any other part of the world: 221221     “Qu’il y avoit un service divine special et different de ce qui se faisoit ailleurs.” — Fr. the temple was a token of the presence of God, and by it he seemed, as if with banners displayed, to hold that people under his authority and dominion. With these symbols, which distinguished the chosen tribes from the heathen nations, the prophet here contrasts the sacrilegious standards which their enemies had brought into the temple. 222222     “Their own symbols they have set for signs. Profane representations, no doubt, agreeable to their own worship. See 1 Maccabees 1:47.” — Dr Geddes. By repeating the word signs twice, he means to aggravate the abominable nature of their act; for having thrown down the tokens and ensigns of the true service of God, they set up in their stead strange symbols.


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