FOR THE SAKE OF HIS NAME
Lord, grant relief to Your people from all oppressors.
Read PSALM 74
A maskil[a] of Asaph.
1 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.
a Psalm 74:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
New International Version (NIV)
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“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling … to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”(Jude 24, 25)
Twelve psalms are recorded as ‘of Asaph’, Psalm 50 and Psalms 73–83. Most include reflection on problematic issues and provide really helpful insights into how to work through our questions. Asaph is one of those characters I want to meet in glory! The issue tackled in Psalm 74 links in well with Ezekiel’s discussion (Ezekiel 36:16–37). We don’t know the timing of Asaph’s writing, but it is possible that one of them was aware of what the other had written. The links between different parts of Scripture point to how the writers were reading and studying the parts of God’s word that were available to them – that should inspire us to keep doing the same! Both Ezekiel and Asaph know that Israel has sinned in extensive ways and richly deserves the judgment and punishment that God has sent. It matters that the nations understand who God is – and that he is not the sort of God who would tolerate Israel’s disobedience. However, they also need to know that he is sovereign and is able to protect his own people.
Ezekiel makes it clear that Israel eventually gets restored, not because God’s people deserve it but “for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations” (Ezekiel 36:22). In Psalm 74, Asaph is trying to work out how long it will be before God brings restoration to Isra-el so that its (and his) enemies might understand that they could not mock God by thinking he is less than all- powerful. Asaph leaves us this time not with an answer, but with a prayer that God’s punishment will be over soon. The challenge for us is to make sure that as “the nations” look at how we Christians behave, they will observe the appropriate picture of our loving, righteous, merciful, and just God.
Lord, help us, as Christians, not to take Christ’s name “in vain” (Exodus 20:7, AV), but to reflect Him in all we do and say.
Lord, your people want You to be zealous to protect the sanctity of Your holy name in the sight of the unredeemed.