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Psalm 74

Plea for Help in Time of National Humiliation

A Maskil of Asaph.


O God, why do you cast us off forever?

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


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.


Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;

the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary.



Your foes have roared within your holy place;

they set up their emblems there.


At the upper entrance they hacked

the wooden trellis with axes.


And then, with hatchets and hammers,

they smashed all its carved work.


They set your sanctuary on fire;

they desecrated the dwelling place of your name,

bringing it to the ground.


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

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



We do not see our emblems;

there is no longer any prophet,

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


How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?

Is the enemy to revile your name forever?


Why do you hold back your hand;

why do you keep your hand in your bosom?



Yet God my King is from of old,

working salvation in the earth.


You divided the sea by your might;

you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters.


You crushed the heads of Leviathan;

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


You cut openings for springs and torrents;

you dried up ever-flowing streams.


Yours is the day, yours also the night;

you established the luminaries and the sun.


You have fixed all the bounds of the earth;

you made summer and winter.



Remember this, O L ord, how the enemy scoffs,

and an impious people reviles your name.


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

do not forget the life of your poor forever.



Have regard for your covenant,

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


Do not let the downtrodden be put to shame;

let the poor and needy praise your name.


Rise up, O God, plead your cause;

remember how the impious scoff at you all day long.


Do not forget the clamor of your foes,

the uproar of your adversaries that goes up 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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