Psalm 74

A contemplation by Asaph.
1 God, why have you rejected us forever? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture? 2 Remember your congregation, which you purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your inheritance; Mount Zion, in which you have lived. 3 Lift up your feet to the perpetual ruins, all the evil that the enemy has done in the sanctuary. 4 Your adversaries have roared in the middle of your assembly. They have set up their standards as signs. 5 They behaved like men wielding axes, cutting through a thicket of trees. 6 Now they break all its carved work down with hatchet and hammers. 7 They have burnt your sanctuary to the ground. They have profaned the dwelling place of your Name. 8 They said in their heart, “We will crush them completely.” They have burnt up all the places in the land where God was worshiped. 9 We see no miraculous signs. There is no longer any prophet, neither is there amongst us anyone who knows how long. 10 How long, God, shall the adversary reproach? Shall the enemy blaspheme your name forever? 11 Why do you draw back your hand, even your right hand? Take it out of your pocket and consume them! 12 Yet God is my King of old, working salvation throughout the earth. 13 You divided the sea by your strength. You broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters. 14 You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces. You gave him as food to people and desert creatures. 15 You opened up spring and stream. You dried up mighty rivers. 16 The day is yours, the night is also yours. You have prepared the light and the sun. 17 You have set all the boundaries of the earth. You have made summer and winter. 18 Remember this, that the enemy has mocked you, LORD. Foolish people have blasphemed your name. 19 Don’t deliver the soul of your dove to wild beasts. Don’t forget the life of your poor forever. 20 Honor your covenant, for haunts of violence fill the dark places of the earth. 21 Don’t let the oppressed return ashamed. Let the poor and needy praise your name. 22 Arise, God! Plead your own cause. Remember how the foolish man mocks you all day. 23 Don’t forget the voice of your adversaries. The tumult of those who rise up against you ascends continually.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

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.

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