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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.

8. They have said in their heart, Let us destroy them all together. To express the more forcibly the atrocious cruelty of the enemies of the Church, the prophet introduces them speaking together, and exciting one another to commit devastation without limit or measure. His language implies, that each of them, as if they had not possessed enough of courage to do mischief, stirred up and stimulated his fellow to waste and destroy the whole of God’s people, without leaving so much as one of them. In the close of the verse he asserts that all the synagogues were burned. I readily take the Hebrew word מועדים, moadim, in the sense of synagogues, 225225     It has been objected, that if this psalm was composed at the time of the captivity of the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar, and the desolation of the Holy Land by the Chaldeans, מועדי, moadey, cannot signify synagogues, because the Jews had no synagogues for public worship or public instruction till after the Babylonish captivity. Accordingly, Dr Prideaux thinks that the Proseuchae are meant. These were courts resembling those in which the people prayed at the tabernacle, and afterwards at the temple, built by those who lived at a distance from Jerusalem, and who were unable at all times to resort thither. They were erected as places in which the Jews might offer up their daily prayers. “They differed,” says Prideaux, “from synagogues in several particulars. For, first, In synagogues the prayers were offered up in public forms in common for the whole congregation; but in the Proseuchae they prayed as in the temple, every one apart for himself. Secondly, The synagogues were covered houses; but the Proseuchae were open courts, built in the manner of forums, which were open enclosures. Thirdly, Synagogues were all built within the cities to which they did belong; but the Proseuchae without.” — Connection of the History, etc., Part 1, Book 6, pages 139-141. Synagogues were afterwards used for the same purpose as the Proseuchae, and hence both come to be designated by the same name. The same author supposes that those places in the cities of the Levites, and the schools of the prophets, whither the people resorted for instruction, having been called, as well as the Proseuchae, מועדי-אל, moadey-el, are also here intended. “The word מועדי, moadey,” says Dr Adam Clarke, “which we translate synagogues, may be taken in a more general sense, and mean any places where religious assemblies were held; and that such places and assemblies did exist long before the Babylonish captivity is pretty evident from different parts of Scripture.” See 2 Kings 4:23; Ezekiel 33:31; Acts 15:21. All such places were consumed to ashes by the hostile invaders whose ravages are bewailed, it having been their purpose to extinguish for ever the Jewish religion, and, as the most likely means of effecting their object, to destroy every memorial of it. because he says ALL the sanctuaries, and speaks expressly of the whole land. It is a frigid explanation which is given by some, that these enemies, upon finding that they could not hurt or do violence to the sanctuary of God in heaven, turned their rage against the material temple or synagogues. The prophet simply complains that they were so intent upon blotting out the name of God, that they left not a single corner on which there was not the mark of the hand of violence. The Hebrew word מועדים, moadim, is commonly taken for the sanctuary; but when we consider its etymology, it is not inappropriately applied to those places where the holy assemblies were wont to be held, not only for reading and expounding the prophets, but also for calling upon the name of God. The wicked, as if the prophet had said, have done all in their power to extinguish and annihilate the worship of God in Judea.


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