Psalms 74

A maskil of Asaph.

1 [a]O God, why have you rejected us forever? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember the nation you purchased long ago, the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed— Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
3 Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.
4 Your foes roared in the place where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs.
5 They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees.
6 They smashed all the carved paneling with their axes and hatchets.
7 They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
8 They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.
9 We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be.
10 How long will the enemy mock you, God? Will the foe revile your name forever?
11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!
12 But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth.
13 It was you who split open the sea by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.
15 It was you who opened up springs and streams; you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.
16 The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon.
17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.
18 Remember how the enemy has mocked you, LORD, how foolish people have reviled your name.
19 Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts; do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.
20 Have regard for your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.
21 Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name.
22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.
23 Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises 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 50

  • 1. S Psalms 43:2
  • 2. Deuteronomy 29:20; S Psalms 44:23
  • 3. Psalms 79:13; Psalms 95:7; Psalms 100:3
  • 4. S Exodus 15:16; S 1 Corinthians 6:20
  • 5. S Deuteronomy 32:7
  • 6. S Exodus 34:9
  • 7. S Exodus 15:13; S Isaiah 48:20
  • 8. Psalms 2:6
  • 9. Psalms 43:3; Psalms 68:16; Isaiah 46:13; Joel 3:17,21; Obadiah 1:17
  • 10. Isaiah 44:26; Isaiah 52:9
  • 11. Lamentations 2:7
  • 12. S Numbers 2:2; S Jeremiah 4:6
  • 13. Jeremiah 46:22
  • 14. S 1 Kings 6:18
  • 15. S Leviticus 20:3; Acts 21:28
  • 16. S Leviticus 15:31
  • 17. Psalms 75:1
  • 18. Psalms 94:5; Psalms 83:4
  • 19. 2 Kings 25:9; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Jeremiah 21:10; Jeremiah 34:22; Jeremiah 52:13
  • 20. S Exodus 4:17; S Exodus 10:1
  • 21. S 1 Samuel 3:1
  • 22. Psalms 6:3; Psalms 79:5; Psalms 80:4
  • 23. ver 22
  • 24. S Psalms 44:16
  • 25. S Exodus 15:6; Lamentations 2:3
  • 26. Nehemiah 5:13; Ezekiel 5:3
  • 27. Psalms 2:6; S Psalms 24:7; Psalms 68:24; Psalms 44:4
  • 28. Psalms 27:1
  • 29. S Exodus 14:21
  • 30. Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 51:9; Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2
  • 31. S Job 3:8
  • 32. Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 23:13; Isaiah 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39
  • 33. S Exodus 17:6; S Numbers 20:11
  • 34. S Exodus 14:29; S Joshua 2:10; Joshua 3:13
  • 35. S Genesis 1:16; Psalms 136:7-9
  • 36. Deuteronomy 32:8; Acts 17:26
  • 37. S Genesis 8:22
  • 38. Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalms 39:8
  • 39. S Genesis 8:8; S Isaiah 59:11
  • 40. S Psalms 9:18
  • 41. S Genesis 6:18; Genesis 17:7; Psalms 106:45
  • 42. Job 34:22
  • 43. Psalms 9:9; Psalms 10:18; Psalms 103:6; Isaiah 58:10
  • 44. S Psalms 35:10
  • 45. Psalms 17:13
  • 46. S Psalms 53:1
  • 47. Isaiah 31:4
  • 48. S Psalms 65:7
  • 49. S Psalms 46:6
  • 50. S Numbers 25:17

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Title: Probably a literary or musical term

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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