Only a God Long Ago
Loving Lord, I praise You that I can come in confidence to You, because You will hear my prayers and You will act.
Read PSALM 74
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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God” (Psa. 90:2).
Not without reason did Derek Kidner describe this psalm as a “tormented psalm.” In almost total despair it laments God’s apparent desertion of the people he “purchased long ago” (2), as they witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the desecration and burning of the Temple. Their frenzied, axe-wielding attackers reeked destruction, but God remained silent, speaking neither directly, nor through signs, nor through prophets. Why didn’t he act?
How long would the silence remain? While none of us may personally have faced such a catastrophic loss we can all identify to a degree. Meanwhile, whole nations and peoples in our world still voice such anguish because they are torn apart by violence and war, even if they do not know the living God.
What saves the psalmist from total desolation is his memory. God may be inactive and silent now, but was there not a time, “long ago” (12), when he spoke and acted powerfully? He recalls two particular demonstrations of God’s power: his creation of the earth (13–17) and his covenant with his people (18–21). In the light of who God used to be, he begs him to be true to himself, to “Rise up… and
defend your cause” (22). His plea displays spiritual maturity, since his primary concern is not that he and his people might know deliverance, but that God’s honor might be defended.
Given the state of the church and the decline of Bible reading, we should be praying as urgently as the psalmist for the great “I AM” to bring revival and defend his honor again, but we will only do so when we are as desperate as he was.
How has God brought light out of darkness, strength out of weakness and joy out of sorrow for you? How does this remembrance help you deal with today’s struggles?
“King from of old” (12), rise up to defend the cause of the Gospel in nations and cultures that oppose You today. Send revival, I pray.
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