Psalm 74 — Praying for Help With Enemies — Reading the Psalms


Maschil of Asaph.

1 O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever?
Why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?
2 Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old,
Which thou hast redeemed to be the tribe of thine inheritance;
And mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.
3 Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual ruins,
All the evil that the enemy hath done in the sanctuary.
4 Thine adversaries have roared in the midst of thine assembly;
They have set up their ensigns for signs.
5 They seemed as men that lifted up
Axes upon a thicket of trees.
6 And now all the carved work thereof together
They break down with hatchet and hammers.
7 They have set thy sanctuary on fire;
They have profaned the dwelling place of thy name even to the ground.
8 They said in their heart, Let us make havoc of them altogether:
They have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land.
9 We see not our signs:
There is no more any prophet;
Neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.
10 How long, O God, shall the adversary reproach?
Shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?
11 Why drawest thou back thy hand, even thy right hand?
Pluck it out of thy bosom and consume them.
12 Yet God is my King of old,
Working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength:
Thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.
14 Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces,
Thou gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
15 Thou didst cleave fountain and flood:
Thou driedst up mighty rivers.
16 The day is thine, the night also is thine:
Thou hast prepared the light and the sun.
17 Thou hast set all the borders of the earth:
Thou hast made summer and winter.
18 Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O LORD,
And that foolish people have blasphemed thy name.
19 O deliver not the soul of thy turtle-dove unto the wild beast:
Forget not the life of thy poor for ever.
20 Have respect unto the covenant:
For the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of violence.
21 O let not the oppressed return ashamed:
Let the poor and needy praise thy name.
22 Arise, O God, plead thine own cause:
Remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee all the day.
23 Forget not the voice of thine adversaries:
The tumult of those that rise up against thee ascendeth continually.

This second psalm of Asaph well describes his plight. The enemies are not only after him, but the all the people and the temple itself. The temple is in ruins. The enemy went after it like axes at a thicket. Fire released and profaned God’s place to the ground.

Though the trouble of psalm 73 is personal, and the trouble here national, we can see their similarities. Besides, how many of us have personal difficulties at the same time that we face larger universal calamities? As they say, “When it rains, it pours”. Asaph feels left with no other other thing to do than to ask, “How long?”

I love “How long?” Don’t get me wrong, if anyone is saying “How long?”, it’s because they’re up to their neck with trouble. I’m not happy about that. Rather, it is that I’m encouraged every time I read it in scripture. My troubles and trials are not unique. Ever and anon have God’s people cried before their troubles with the question, “How long?”

Asaph’s help comes, again, from the meditation and recitation of God’s works. As the first psalm states, blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord. Read through the works Asaph recounts. Think about their significance and meaning. Let them encourage you.


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