Psalm 79

A Psalm by Asaph.
1 God, the nations have come into your inheritance. They have defiled your holy temple. They have laid Jerusalem in heaps. 2 They have given the dead bodies of your servants to be food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your saints to the animals of the earth. 3 Their blood they have shed like water around Jerusalem. There was no one to bury them. 4 We have become a reproach to our neighbors, a scoffing and derision to those who are around us. 5 How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? 6 Pour out your wrath on the nations that don’t know you; on the kingdoms that don’t call on your name; 7 for they have devoured Jacob, and destroyed his homeland. 8 Don’t hold the iniquities of our forefathers against us. Let your tender mercies speedily meet us, for we are in desperate need. 9 Help us, God of our salvation, 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?” Let it be known amongst the nations, before our eyes, that vengeance for your servants’ blood is being poured out. 11 Let the sighing of the prisoner come before you. According to the greatness of your power, preserve those who are sentenced to death. 12 Pay back to our neighbors seven times into their bosom their reproach with which they have reproached you, Lord. 13 So we, your people and sheep of your pasture, will give you thanks forever. We will praise you forever, to all generations.

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

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.

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