Psalm 74

1650 psalter

The appeal of the scattered heritage to the mighty God of Israel 

The scene is one of devastation and conquest. Synagogues and the Sanctuary had been burned and ruined, and the beauty of the interiors desecrated and pillaged. God’s people were slain, and the outlook, humanly speaking, was grim. 

But Asaph’s eye of faith would not be blinkered by the harsh facts. Faith marshalled its arguments before God, and a prayer of importunity persisted from the mouth of Asaph. He pleads a purchased, redeemed people; a God who is in covenant, and that the divine Name had been dishonoured and blasphemed by the enemy. Furthermore, he reminds the Lord of His omnipotence over nature, and His activity in the history of His people: the history of salvation and deliverance. We ought in these days, to use the very same arguments in prayer.

Pastor Jeff O’ Neil

Recommended Tune: St Kilda

St Kilda

Psalm 74

¹O God, why hast thou cast us off?
Is it for evermore?
Against thy pasture–sheep why doth
Thine anger smoke so sore?

²O call to thy rememberance
Thy congregation,
Which thou hast purchased of old;
Still think the same upon:

The rod of thine inheritance,
Which thou redeemed hast,
This Zion hill, wherein thou hadst
Thy dwelling in times past.

³To these long desolations
Thy feet lift, do not tarry;
For all the ills thy foes have done
Within thy sanctuary.

⁴Amidst thy congregations
Thine enemies do roar:
Their ensigns they set up for signs
Of triumph thee before.

⁵A man was famous, and was had
In estimation,
According as he lifted up
His axe thick trees upon.

⁶But all at once with axes now
And hammers they go to,
And down the carved work thereof
They break, and quite undo.

⁷They fired have thy sanctuary,
And have defil’d the same,
By casting down unto the ground
The place where dwelt thy name.

⁸Thus said they in their hearts, Let us
Destroy them out of hand:
They burnt up all the synagogues
Of God within the land.

⁹Our signs we do not now behold;
There is not us among
A prophet more, nor any one
That knows the time how long.

¹⁰How long, Lord, shall the enemy
Thus in reproach exclaim?
And shall the adversary thus
Always blaspheme thy name?

¹¹Thy hand, ev’n thy right hand of might,
Why dost thou thus draw back?
O from thy bosom pluck it out
For our deliv’rance sake.

¹²For certainly God is my King,
Ev’n from the times of old,
Working in midst of all the earth
Salvation manifold.

¹³The sea, by thy great pow’r, to part
Asunder thou didst make;
And thou the dragons’ heads, O Lord,
Within the waters brake.

¹⁴The leviathan’s head thou brak’st
In pieces, and didst give
Him to be meat unto the folk
In wilderness that live.

¹⁵Thou clav’st the fountain and the flood,
Which did with streams abound:
Thou dry’dst the mighty waters up
Unto the very ground.

¹⁶Thine only is the day, O Lord,
Thine also is the night;
And thou alone prepared hast
The sun and shining light.

¹⁷By thee the borders of the earth
Were settled ev’ry where:
The summer and the winter both
By thee created were.

¹⁸That th’ enemy reproached hath,
O keep it in record;
And that the foolish people have
Blasphem’d thy name, O LORD.

¹⁹Unto the multitude do not
Thy turtle’s soul deliver:
The congregation of thy poor
Do not forget for ever.

²⁰Unto thy cov’nant have respect;
For earth’s dark places be
Full of the habitations
Of horrid cruelty.

²¹O let not those that be oppress’d
Return again with shame:
Let those that poor and needy are
Give praise unto thy name.

²²Do thou, O God, arise and plead
The cause that is thine own:
Remember how thou art reproach’d
Still by the foolish one.

²³Do not forget the voice of those
That are thine enemies:
Of those the tumult ever grows
That do against thee rise.