Psalms 74

Listen to Psalms 74
1 O God, why do you 1cast us off forever? Why does your anger 2smoke against 3the sheep of your pasture?
2 4Remember your congregation, which you have 5purchased of old, which you have 6redeemed to be 7the tribe of your heritage! Remember Mount Zion, 8where you have dwelt.
3 Direct your steps to 9the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!
4 Your foes have 10roared in the midst of your meeting place; 11they set up their 12own signs for 13signs.
5 They were like those who swing 14axes in a forest of trees.[a]
6 And all its 15carved wood they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
7 They 16set your sanctuary on fire; they 17profaned 18the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground.
8 They 19said to themselves, "We will utterly subdue them"; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
9 We do not see our 20signs; 21there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long.
10 How long, O God, 22is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
11 Why 23do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment[b] and destroy them!
12 Yet 24God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 You 25divided the sea by your might; you 26broke the heads of 27the sea monsters[c] on the waters.
14 You crushed the heads of 28Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
15 You 29split open springs and brooks; you 30dried up ever-flowing streams.
16 Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established 31the heavenly lights and the sun.
17 You have 32fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made 33summer and winter.
18 34Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs, and 35a foolish people reviles your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of your 36dove to the wild beasts; 37do not forget the life of your poor forever.
20 Have regard for 38the covenant, for 39the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not 40the downtrodden 41turn back in shame; let 42the poor and needy praise your name.
22 Arise, O God, 43defend your cause; 44remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes, 45the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

Psalms 74 Commentary

Chapter 74

The desolations of the sanctuary. (1-11) Pleas for encouraging faith. (12-17) Petitions for deliverances. (18-23)

Verses 1-11 This psalm appears to describe the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Chaldeans. The deplorable case of the people of God, at the time, is spread before the Lord, and left with him. They plead the great things God had done for them. If the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt was encouragement to hope that he would not cast them off, much more reason have we to believe, that God will not cast off any whom Christ has redeemed with his own blood. Infidels and persecutors may silence faithful ministers, and shut up places of worship, and say they will destroy the people of God and their religion together. For a long time they may prosper in these attempts, and God's oppressed servants may see no prospect of deliverance; but there is a remnant of believers, the seed of a future harvest, and the despised church has survived those who once triumphed over her. When the power of enemies is most threatening, it is comfortable to flee to the power of God by earnest prayer.

Verses 12-17 The church silences her own complaints. What God had done for his people, as their King of old, encouraged them to depend on him. It was the Lord's doing, none besides could do it. This providence was food to faith and hope, to support and encourage in difficulties. The God of Israel is the God of nature. He that is faithful to his covenant about the day and the night, will never cast off those whom he has chosen. We have as much reason to expect affliction, as to expect night and winter. But we have no more reason to despair of the return of comfort, than to despair of day and summer. And in the world above we shall have no more changes.

Verses 18-23 The psalmist begs that God would appear for the church against their enemies. The folly of such as revile his gospel and his servants will be plain to all. Let us call upon our God to enlighten the dark nations of the earth; and to rescue his people, that the poor and needy may praise his name. Blessed Saviour, thou art the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Make thy people more than conquerors. Be thou, Lord, all in all to them in every situation and circumstances; for then thy poor and needy people will praise thy name.

Cross References 45

  • 1. See Psalms 44:9
  • 2. Deuteronomy 29:20; [Psalms 18:8]
  • 3. Psalms 79:13; Psalms 100:3; Jeremiah 23:1; Ezekiel 34:31; [Psalms 95:7]
  • 4. ver. 18, 22
  • 5. Exodus 15:16; Deuteronomy 32:6; [Psalms 78:54]
  • 6. Psalms 77:15; Isaiah 63:9
  • 7. Isaiah 63:17; Jeremiah 10:16; Jeremiah 51:19
  • 8. Psalms 9:11
  • 9. [Isaiah 61:4]
  • 10. Lamentations 2:6, 7
  • 11. [Matthew 24:15]
  • 12. Numbers 2:2
  • 13. [ver. 9]
  • 14. [Jeremiah 46:22]
  • 15. [1 Kgs. 6:18, 29, 32, 35]
  • 16. 2 Kings 25:9; [Psalms 79:1]
  • 17. Psalms 89:39; [Lamentations 2:2]
  • 18. [Psalms 26:8]
  • 19. Psalms 83:4
  • 20. [ver. 4]
  • 21. [1 Samuel 3:1; Lamentations 2:9; Ezekiel 7:26; Amos 8:11]
  • 22. ver. 18, 22; Psalms 79:12; Psalms 89:51
  • 23. Lamentations 2:3
  • 24. Psalms 44:4
  • 25. Exodus 14:21
  • 26. Isaiah 51:9
  • 27. Isaiah 27:1
  • 28. See Job 41:1
  • 29. Psalms 78:15; Psalms 105:41; Exodus 17:5, 6; Numbers 20:11; Isaiah 48:21
  • 30. Joshua 2:10; Joshua 4:23; Isaiah 51:10; [Psalms 66:6]; See Exodus 14:21-25; Joshua 3:13-17
  • 31. Psalms 104:19; See Genesis 1:14-16
  • 32. Deuteronomy 32:8; [Acts 17:26]
  • 33. Genesis 8:22
  • 34. ver. 2, 22; Psalms 89:50; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 18:5
  • 35. Psalms 39:8; Deuteronomy 32:6
  • 36. Song of Songs 2:14
  • 37. [Psalms 68:10]
  • 38. Psalms 106:45; Genesis 17:7, 8; Leviticus 26:44, 45; Jeremiah 33:21
  • 39. [Psalms 10:8]
  • 40. Psalms 9:9; Psalms 10:18
  • 41. [Psalms 6:10]
  • 42. Psalms 86:1
  • 43. [1 Samuel 24:15]
  • 44. ver. 2, 18
  • 45. See Psalms 65:7

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
  • [b]. Hebrew from your bosom
  • [c]. Or the great sea creatures

Chapter Summary

Maschil of Asaph. Some think that Asaph, the penman of this psalm, was not the same that lived in the times of David, but some other of the same name, a descendant of his {k}, that lived after the Babylonish captivity, since the psalm treats of things that were done at the time the Jews were carried captive into Babylon, or after; but this hinders not that it might be the same man; for why might he not, under a spirit of prophecy, speak of the sufferings of the church in later ages, as well as David and others testify before hand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow? The psalm is called "Maschil," because it gives knowledge of, and causes to understand what afflictions should befall the church and people of God in later times. The Targum is, "a good understanding by the hands of Asaph."

Some think the occasion of the psalm was the Babylonish captivity, as before observed, when indeed the city and temple were burnt; but then there were prophets, as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and after them Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi; which is here denied, Psalm 74:9, others think it refers to the times of Antiochus Epiphanes; but though prophecy indeed had then ceased, and the temple was profaned, yet not burnt. The Jews apply it to their present captivity, and to the profanation of the temple, by Titus {l}, and to the destruction both of the city and temple by him; so Theodoret: the title of it in the Syriac version is, "when David saw the angel slaying the people, and he wept and said, on me and my seed, and not on these innocent sheep; and again a prediction of the siege of the city of the Jews, forty years after the ascension, by Vespasian the old man, and Titus his son, who killed multitudes of the Jews, and destroyed Jerusalem; and hence the Jews have been wandering to this day."

But then it is not easy to account for it why a psalm of lamentation should be composed for the destruction of that people, which so righteously came upon them for their sins, and particularly for their contempt and rejection of the Messiah. It therefore seems better, with Calvin and Cocceius, to suppose that this psalm refers to the various afflictions, which at different times should come upon the church and people of God; and perhaps the superstition, wickedness, and cruelty of the Romish antichrist, may be hinted at.

Psalms 74 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.