Why, O God?
As you pray today, consider what it means to be truly forgiven, and offer your thanks to God.
Read PSALM 79:1-13
 A psalm of Asaph. O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.  They have given the dead bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the air, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth.  They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.  We are objects of reproach to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us.  How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire?  Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name;  for they have devoured Jacob and destroyed his homeland.  Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.  Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.  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.  May the groans of the prisoners come before you; by the strength of your arm preserve those condemned to die.  Pay back into the laps of our neighbors seven times the reproach they have hurled at you, O Lord.  Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow would you describe the theme of this psalm?
There are times when you wonder why the world reveres the wheeler-dealers, the schemers and those who mock faith. Perhaps you have even indulged in a bit of “Give our jeering neighbors what they’ve got coming to them” dialogue with God (12, The Message), even wishing that God would “go public and show the godless world that they can’t kill your servants and get by with it” (10, The Message). After all, it’s his reputation that is at stake (9).
But maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe it’s not God’s reputation we are concerned about, but ours? Perhaps we feel mistreated or let down when God doesn’t act in big ways and prove who he is to the world, a world that is endlessly encroaching on his territory (1) and ridiculing us when he fails to intervene (4). God doesn’t need to prove he is God to anyone, much less to a fallen humanity. What he does is qualitatively different: he sends us into the world as living witnesses to his love. Righteous anger may be an appropriate response in some situations, but we are called to praise him forever (13) and share him unceasingly. Anything else is up to God.
Do you feel let down because God’s enemies are “getting away with murder”? Ask God how you should feel and act.
Lord, let me draw strength from You to face with love those who mock You and scorn me.
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