Psalms 74

An Appeal against the Devastation of the Land by the Enemy.

1 O God, why have You 1rejected us forever? Why does Your anger 2smoke against the 3sheep of Your pasture?
2 Remember Your congregation, which You have 4purchased of old, Which You have 5redeemed to be the 6tribe of Your inheritance; And this Mount 7Zion, where You have dwelt.
3 Turn Your footsteps toward the 8perpetual ruins; The enemy 9has damaged everything within the sanctuary.
4 Your adversaries have 10roared in the midst of Your meeting place; They have set up their 11own standards 12for signs.
5 It seems as if one had lifted up His 13axe in a forest of trees.
6 And now all its 14carved work They smash with hatchet and hammers.
7 They have 15burned * Your sanctuary to the ground; They have 16defiled the dwelling place of Your name.
8 They 17said in their heart, "Let us completely subdue them." They have burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
9 We do not see our 18signs; There is 19no longer any prophet, Nor is there any among us who knows 20how long.
10 How long *, O God, will the adversary 21revile, And the enemy 22spurn Your name forever?
11 Why 23do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? From within Your bosom, 24destroy them!
12 Yet God is 25my king from of old, Who works deeds of deliverance in the midst of the earth.
13 You 26divided the sea by Your strength; You 27broke the heads of the 28sea monsters in the waters.
14 You crushed the heads of 29Leviathan; You gave him as food for the creatures 30of the wilderness.
15 You 31broke open springs and torrents; You 32dried up ever-flowing streams.
16 Yours is the day, Yours also is the night; You have 33prepared the light and the sun.
17 You have 34established all the boundaries of the earth; You have made 35summer and winter.
18 Remember this, O LORD, that the enemy has 36reviled, And a 37foolish people has spurned Your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of Your 38turtledove to the wild beast; 39Do not forget the life of Your afflicted forever.
20 Consider the 40covenant; For the 41dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the 42oppressed return dishonored; Let the 43afflicted and needy praise Your name.
22 Arise, O God, and 44plead Your own cause; Remember how the 45foolish man reproaches You all day long.
23 Do not forget the voice of Your 46adversaries, The 47uproar of those who rise against You which ascends 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 47

  • 1. Psalms 44:9; Psalms 77:7
  • 2. Deuteronomy 29:20; Psalms 18:8; Psalms 89:46
  • 3. Psalms 79:13; Psalms 95:7; Psalms 100:3
  • 4. Exodus 15:16; Deuteronomy 32:6
  • 5. Exodus 15:13; Psalms 77:15; Psalms 106:10; Isaiah 63:9
  • 6. Deuteronomy 32:9; Isaiah 63:17; Jeremiah 10:16; Jeremiah 51:19
  • 7. Psalms 9:11; Psalms 68:16
  • 8. Isaiah 61:4
  • 9. Psalms 79:1
  • 10. Lamentations 2:7
  • 11. Numbers 2:2
  • 12. Psalms 74:9
  • 13. Jeremiah 46:22
  • 14. 1 Kin 6:18, 29, 32, 35
  • 15. 2 Kings 25:9
  • 16. Psalms 89:39; Lamentations 2:2
  • 17. Psalms 83:4
  • 18. Psalms 78:43
  • 19. 1 Samuel 3:1; Lamentations 2:9; Ezekiel 7:26; Amos 8:11
  • 20. Psalms 6:3; Psalms 79:5; Psalms 80:4
  • 21. Psalms 44:16; Psalms 79:12; Psalms 89:51
  • 22. Leviticus 24:16
  • 23. Lamentations 2:3
  • 24. Psalms 59:13
  • 25. Psalms 44:4
  • 26. Exodus 14:21; Psalms 78:13
  • 27. Isaiah 51:9
  • 28. Psalms 148:7; Jeremiah 51:34
  • 29. Job 41:1; Psalms 104:26; Isaiah 27:1
  • 30. Psalms 72:9
  • 31. Exodus 17:5, 6; Numbers 20:11; Psalms 78:15; Psalms 105:41; Psalms 114:8; Isaiah 48:21
  • 32. Exodus 14:21, 22; Joshua 2:10; Joshua 3:13; Psalms 114:3
  • 33. Genesis 1:14-18; Psalms 104:19; Psalms 136:7, 8
  • 34. Deuteronomy 32:8; Acts 17:26
  • 35. Genesis 8:22; Psalms 147:16-18
  • 36. Psalms 74:10
  • 37. Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalms 14:1; Psalms 39:8; Psalms 53:1
  • 38. Song of Songs 2:14
  • 39. Psalms 9:18
  • 40. Genesis 17:7; Psalms 106:45
  • 41. Psalms 88:6; Psalms 143:3
  • 42. Psalms 103:6
  • 43. Psalms 35:10; Isaiah 41:17
  • 44. Psalms 43:1; Isaiah 3:13; Isaiah 43:26; Ezekiel 20:35
  • 45. Psalms 14:1; Psalms 53:1; Psalms 74:18
  • 46. Psalms 74:10
  • 47. Psalms 65:7

Footnotes 27

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

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