New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Psa 76:1

For the Chief Musician. On stringed instruments. A Psalm by Asaph. A song-
This "Asaph" could be the Asaph of Hezekiah's time (Is. 36:3) who used the Psalms in the context of the events of the Assyrian invasion. The Asaph Psalms all have parts in them relevant to that context (Ps. 50, 73-83). Or the "Asaph" may have been the singers who were relatives of Asaph, prominent at the restoration (Neh. 7:44; 11:17,22). It could mean that the psalms were a part of a collection from the Asaphites, and the name "Asaph" was therefore simply used to identify the temple singers. And again, parts of the Asaph psalms also have relevance to the restoration. The fact the Asaph Psalms speak of elohim rather than Yahweh would support the idea that they were used in the exilic / restoration period. But Asaph was the "chief" of the Levites to whom David assigned the ministry of praise before the ark (1 Chron. 16:4,5). It seems he did compose his own Psalms, which were used by Hezekiah at his time (2 Chron. 29:30). So I would again suggest that all the Asaph Psalms were composed originally by David "for" [not necessarily "by"] Asaph, but were rewritten and edited for later occasions.

Note how the restoration Psalm Ps. 76:1-5 speaks in the prophetic perfect of a great battle at Jerusalem which Yahweh would win. Perhaps this speaks of the same battle spoken of in Ez. 38, which could have come true in God's prophetic program, had the people rebuilt the city as they should have done.

In Judah God is known, His name is great in Israel-

This is one of the many passages where God emphasizes the essential unity of Israel and Judah through the device of parallelism. Here Judah and Israel are paralleled, and therefore making His Name great is paralleled with knowing Him. To know God is to have a relationship with Him which issues in glorifying His Name. The idea may be that God's Name is being made great, i.e. praised, because God has made Himself known by a great deliverance of Judah- probably referring to the destruction of the Assyrian invaders in Hezekiah's time. I have noted throughout the Psalms that there is sometimes a pairing of Psalms, and Ps. 75 is clearly in the same context.

Psa 76:2

His tabernacle is also in Salem; His dwelling place in Zion-
"Salem" is used for "Jerusalem" because the idea was that now the temple was in peace, now that the Assyrians had been destroyed.

Psa 76:3

There He broke the flaming arrows of the bow, the shield and the sword and the weapons of war. Selah-
Not an arrow was shot by the Assyrians in Zion (Is. 37:33); for "there" they were destroyed by just one Angel slaying 185,000 soldiers. "Arrows" here can be translated "lightnings". So the idea may be that God destroyed all the fearsome weaponry which struck fear into the hearts of the Israelites.

Psa 76:4

Glorious are You and excellent, more than mountains of game-
"Mountains" may be an intensive plural for the one great mountain, Zion, where in the temple treasuries the "prey" ("game") of booty from the destroyed Assyrian army was laid up. But far beyond that was the glory which God brought to Himself by the defeat of the Assyrians. And for this, Yahweh was to be "feared" or 'made glorious' by the surrounding Gentiles (s.w. :7).

Psa 76:5

Valiant men lie plundered-
Plundered by the inhabitants of Zion coming out to strip the corpses of the 185,000 soldiers slain by the Angel.

They have slept their last sleep. None of the men of war can lift their hands-
The judgment of these Gentiles is presented as an eternal sleep. Death was therefore understood by the psalmist as unconsciousness, and eternal death was the punishment of these people rather than eternal conscious torment.

Psa 76:6

At Your rebuke, God of Jacob, both chariot and horse are cast into a deep sleep-
This is the language of the victory at the Red Sea ["rebuke... chariot and horse... cast... the deep"], but it is reapplied to the Assyrian defeat. The psalmist perceives a continuity in God's actions. And as noted on :5, the judgment of the invaders was eternal sleep, unconsciousness rather than any idea of conscious torment.

Psa 76:7

You, even You, are to be feared. Who can stand in Your sight when You are angry?-
"Feared" is s.w. "excellent" in :4. Yahweh was to be "feared" or 'made glorious' by the surrounding Gentiles; but instead, Hezekiah fraternized with them and accepted their gods, rather than bringing them to fear Israel's God, knowing that they must make peace with Him rather than face His anger.

Psa 76:8

You pronounced judgment from heaven: the earth feared and was silent-
A reference to the judgment from heaven being operationalized by one Angel going forth from heaven to slay the 185,000 Assyrian soldiers encircling Jerusalem. The intention was that the entire eretz promised to Abraham would fear God and be silent before Him because of this. But Hezekiah tragically failed to make use of that potential. The kingdom prophecies in earlier Isaiah could have come to fulfilment in him, in some form; but he would not.

Psa 76:9

when God arose to judgment, to save all the afflicted ones of the earth. Selah-
The judgment of the Assyrians was a saving of the "afflicted ones". It was a foretaste of the day when God shall finally arise in judgment, and the afflicted / meek shall eternally inherit the earth (Ps. 37:11,29 s.w.). Is. 11:4 spoke of how the Messianic king would judge the abusers of "the meek / afflicted ones of the earth" (s.w.). This "Kingdom" prophecy could have come true in Hezekiah's time, but he sadly was happy to have 15 years to enjoy himself in mortal life, and turned away from the Kingdom potential.

Psa 76:10

Surely the wrath of man praises You. The survivors of Your wrath are restrained-
The idea may be that after the outpouring of wrath, those who survive it will praise Yahweh. This is what the prophetic intention was for the aftermath of the destruction of the Assyrians and later, after the fall of Babylon. But Hezekiah and later the exiles let the baton drop and didn't fulfil the potential. The whole scenario was reapplied and rescheduled to the last days. "Restrained" is the usual word for "girded", and it parallel with "praises You"; so the idea may be an allusion to the metaphor of being 'girded with praise'.

Psa 76:11

Make vows to Yahweh your God, and fulfil them!-
An invitation to the surrounding nations to enter into covenant relationship with Yahweh as their God.

Let all of His neighbours bring presents to Him who is to be feared-
This was fulfilled at Hezekiah's time, but Hezekiah misused this and didn't bring those neighbours to Israel's God as was prophetically intended.

Psa 76:12

He will cut off the spirit of princes, He is feared by the kings of the land-
AV "He is terrible to the kings...". A primary reference to the likes of Sennacherib and Rabshakeh with the princes of Assyria who were with the Assyrian army when it was destroyed.