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FRAMEWORKS: Psa 74: Pleas from a Devastated Land


A maskil of Asaph.


[Preliminary Comments: Asaph had been a lead musician in David's day and his name here should be “after the style of Asaph” for with the reference to the destruction of the temple [v.3,7] this must be post 586 when Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar's men. In the first Part [v.1-11] the writer appeals to the Lord to come to the devasted Jerusalem to help them. In Part 2 [v.12-17] he determines to declare the Lord's greatness, as if to maintain perspective in a time when it would be easy to lose it. In the final Part [v.18-23] he again prays for the Lord to come to their aid, remembering His covenant with them [v.20], and defend the Land and His people (implied] that He had established.]



PART 1: v.1-11: Petition for God to come to their aid after destruction


v.1-3 A Cry for help after a destruction


v.1  O God, why have you rejected us forever?
     Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
v.2  Remember the nation you purchased long ago,
     the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed
     Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
v.3  Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
     all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.


v.4-8 The enemy activity expounded included the destruction of the Temple


v.4  Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;
     they set up their standards as signs.
v.5  They behaved like men wielding axes
     to cut through a thicket of trees.
v.6  They smashed all the carved paneling
     with their axes and hatchets.
v.7  They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
     they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
v.8  They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”
     They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.


v.9-11 He feels they are left adrift without any prophetic channel from God


v.9  We are given no signs from God;
     no prophets are left,
     and none of us knows how long this will be.
v.10  How long will the enemy mock you, God?
     Will the foe revile your name forever?
v.11  Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
     Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!



PART 2: v.12-17: Declaration of the Lord's Greatness


v.12 Nevertheless a declaration of God's rule over them


v.12  But God is my King from long ago;
     he brings salvation on the earth.


v.13-17 He remembers the Lord's sovereignty in Creation


v.13  It was you who split open the sea by your power;
     you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
v.14  It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
     and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.
v.15  It was you who opened up springs and streams;
     you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.
v.16  The day is yours, and yours also the night;
     you established the sun and moon.
v.17  It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
     you made both summer and winter.



PART 3: v.18-23: Specific Petitions for deliverance & dealing with their enemy


v.18,19 He appeals to Him not to forget His people


v.18  Remember how the enemy has mocked you, Lord,
     how foolish people have reviled your name.
v.19  Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
     do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.

v.20,21 He appeals to Him to remember His covenant with Israel


v.20  Have regard for your covenant,
     because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.
v.21  Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace;
     may the poor and needy praise your name.

v.22,23 He cries to Him to rise up against His enemies


v.22  Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
     remember how fools mock you all day long.
v.23  Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries
     the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.



[Additional Comments: Interestingly there is not mention of Israel's sin and the cause of this destruction. His confidence in God and in His covenant is sufficiently great that the writer simply makes this psalm a straight forward appeal to the Lord for Him to come on their behalf to this devasted city and land. Another interesting point is that there is no mention of Jeremiah who we know had been left when the Babylonians left. It is possible therefore that the writer is one of the stragglers left after Jeremiah's party have left for Egypt. It is a testimony to the barrenness of this once ‘Chosen and Promised Land, where the Temple, priests and prophets have all gone.]



Continue to Psa 75