Psalms 79

A psalm of Asaph.

1 O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
2 They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
3 They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.
4 We are objects of contempt to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us.
5 How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name;
7 for they have devoured Jacob and devastated his homeland.
8 Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.
9 Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.
10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants.
11 May the groans of the prisoners come before you; with your strong arm preserve those condemned to die.
12 Pay back into the laps of our neighbors seven times the contempt they have hurled at you, Lord.
13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise.

Psalms 79 Commentary

Chapter 79

The deplorable condition of the people of God. (1-5) A petition for relief. (6-13)

Verses 1-5 God is complained to: whither should children go but to a Father able and willing to help them? See what a change sin made in the holy city, when the heathen were suffered to pour in upon them. God's own people defiled it by their sins, therefore he suffered their enemies to defile it by their insolence. They desired that God would be reconciled. Those who desire God's favour as better than life, cannot but dread his wrath as worse than death. In every affliction we should first beseech the Lord to cleanse away the guilt of our sins; then he will visit us with his tender mercies.

Verses 6-13 Those who persist in ignorance of God, and neglect of prayer, are the ungodly. How unrighteous soever men were, the Lord was righteous in permitting them to do what they did. Deliverances from trouble are mercies indeed, when grounded upon the pardon of sin; we should therefore be more earnest in prayer for the removal of our sins than for the removal of afflictions. They had no hopes but from God's mercies, his tender mercies. They plead no merit, they pretend to none, but, Help us for the glory of thy name; pardon us for thy name's sake. The Christian forgets not that he is often bound in the chain of his sins. The world to him is a prison; sentence of death is passed upon him, and he knows not how soon it may be executed. How fervently should he at all times pray, O let the sighing of a prisoner come before thee, according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die! How glorious will the day be, when, triumphant over sin and sorrow, the church beholds the adversary disarmed for ever! while that church shall, from age to age, sing the praises of her great Shepherd and Bishop, her King and her God.

Cross References 27

  • 1. S Exodus 34:9; Psalms 74:2
  • 2. S Leviticus 20:3
  • 3. S 2 Kings 25:9; S Nehemiah 4:2; S Isaiah 6:11
  • 4. Revelation 19:17-18
  • 5. S Deuteronomy 28:26; Jeremiah 7:33
  • 6. Jeremiah 25:33; Revelation 11:9
  • 7. Jeremiah 16:4
  • 8. S Psalms 39:8; S Ezekiel 5:14
  • 9. Psalms 44:13; Psalms 80:6
  • 10. S Psalms 74:10
  • 11. Psalms 74:1; Psalms 85:5
  • 12. S Deuteronomy 29:20; Psalms 89:46; Zephaniah 3:8
  • 13. S Psalms 2:5; Psalms 69:24; Psalms 110:5; Revelation 16:1
  • 14. Psalms 147:20; Jeremiah 10:25; 2 Thessalonians 1:8
  • 15. S Psalms 14:4
  • 16. Isaiah 9:12; Jeremiah 10:25
  • 17. S Genesis 9:25; Jeremiah 44:21; Isaiah 64:9
  • 18. Psalms 116:6; Psalms 142:6
  • 19. S 2 Chronicles 14:11
  • 20. Psalms 25:11; Psalms 31:3; Jeremiah 14:7
  • 21. S Psalms 42:3; Psalms 42:10
  • 22. Psalms 94:1; S Revelation 6:10
  • 23. ver 3
  • 24. Isaiah 65:6; Jeremiah 32:18
  • 25. S Genesis 4:15
  • 26. S Psalms 74:1; Psalms 95:7
  • 27. Psalms 44:8

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO PSALM 79

\\<>\\. This psalm was not written by one Asaph, who is supposed to live after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, or, according to some, even after the times of Antiochus, of whom there is no account, nor any certainty that there ever was such a man in those times; but by Asaph, the seer and prophet, that lived in the time of David, who, under a prophetic spirit, foresaw and foretold things that should come to pass, spoken of in this psalm: nor is it any objection that what is here said is delivered as an history of facts, since many prophecies are delivered in this way, especially those of the prophet Isaiah. The Targum is, ``a song by the hands of Asaph, concerning the destruction of the house of the sanctuary (or temple), which he said by a spirit of prophecy.'' The title of the Syriac versions, ``said by Asaph concerning the destruction of Jerusalem.'' The argument of the psalm is of the same kind with the Seventy Fourth. Some refer it to the times of Antiochus Epiphanes; so Theodoret; but though the temple was then defiled, Jerusalem was not utterly destroyed; and others to the destruction of the city and temple by Nebuchadnezzar; and why may it not refer to both, and even to the after destruction of both by Titus Vespasian? and may include the affliction and troubles of the Christians under Rome Pagan and Papal, and especially the latter; for Jerusalem and the temple may be understood in a mystical and spiritual sense; at least the troubles of the Jews, in the times referred to, were typical of what should befall the people of God under the New Testament, and in antichristian times.

Psalms 79 Commentaries