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Psalm 74 Feb. 11 A contemplation by Asaph.  1God, why have You rejected us forever? Why does Your anger smoulder against the sheep of Your pasture? 2Remember Your congregation which You purchased of old, which You have redeemed to be the tribe of Your inheritance; Mount Zion, in which You have lived. 3Lift up Your feet on the perpetual ruins, see all the evil that the enemy has done in the sanctuary. 4Your adversaries have roared in the midst of Your assembly. They have set up their standards as signs. 5They behaved like men wielding axes, cutting through a thicket of trees. 6Now they break all its carved work down with hatchet and hammers. 7They have burned Your sanctuary to the ground, they have profaned the dwelling place of Your Name. 8They said in their heart, We will crush them completely. They have burned up all the places in the land where God was worshiped. 9We see no miraculous signs. There is no longer any prophet, neither is there among us anyone who knows how long. 10How long, God, shall the adversary reproach? Shall the enemy blaspheme Your name forever? 11Why do You draw back Your hand, even Your right hand? Take it out of Your pocket and consume them! 12Yet God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. 13You divided the sea by Your strength. You broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters. 14You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces. You gave him as food to people and desert creatures. 15You opened up spring and stream. You dried up mighty rivers. 16The day is Yours, the night is also Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun. 17You have set all the boundaries of the earth. You have made summer and winter.  18Remember this, that the enemy has mocked You, Yahweh. Foolish people have blasphemed Your name. 19Don’t deliver the soul of Your dove to wild beasts, don’t forget the life of Your poor forever. 20Honour Your covenant, for haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land. 21Don’t let the oppressed return ashamed; let the poor and needy praise Your name. 22Arise, God! Plead Your own cause. Remember how the foolish man mocks You all day. 23Don’t forget the voice of Your adversaries; the tumult of those who rise up against You ascends continually.    


74:9 This statement is strange seeing that there were prophets at the time when the temple was burnt by the Babylonians (:7)- not least Jeremiah, who had prophesied that Judah would be in captivity for 70 years (Jer. 25:11,12; 29:10). Daniel too appears not to have been immediately aware of Jeremiah’s prophecies (Dan. 9:2). There are times when God’s people seem not to have been in much contact with each other even though they lived near each other- Melchizedek and Abraham are an example. The dysfunction and division we see within the church is lamentable and wrong, but these things happen, and the divided parties still remain God’s people- just as Asaph and Jeremiah were.
 74:12 This Psalm is a record of how Asaph reasoned with himself. The destruction of the temple by the Babylonians meant that he felt God had totally and permanently rejected His people; and yet he takes comfort in the wonders God has done for His people in the past (:13-15). As a member of God’s people he felt that those historical wonders had in a sense been done to him too- hence he reflects that “Yet God is my King of old”. In times when the apparent distance and silence of God is so unbearable, we have to remember what He has done for us and for His people in the past. We can also reflect that the ongoing wonders of creation, the sun’s rising and setting, is a sign that God is in fact constantly active (:16,17), even if He’s not active for us in the ways we desperately want.