Psalms 74:1

 

The Bible says in Psalms 74:1, “O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?” Some bad things happened to Israel at different times in their history, and the Psalmist knows that God allows everything that happens. God’s anger can be shown by what He allows or disallows. God does chastise His children.

 

The Bible says in Psalms 74:2-4, “Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.[3] Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary.[4] Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs.” The word “congregation” is used because God sees us as a group: the family of God. That is why the Lord wants us to meet together as believers in Jesus. Those who forsake the meeting together with other believers, what we call church, are not doing their part to be involved with the other believers the way that God wants us to do. He loves the congregation because He “purchased” it with His blood. “Redeemed” is a synonym of “purchased” but has an even stronger emphasis on God taking the initiative to acquire His children just like a kinsman redeemer. It tells us why God gave the Old Testament commandment about the kinsman redeemer: to be another symbolism and representation of what Jesus did for us.

 

In the Old Testament God chose a city and a place to represent His presence: “mount Zion,” which is Jerusalem. And so it was a great loss and a great sorrow when Jerusalem was attacked and eventually conquered by the heathen armies. The phrases that the Psalmist used to describe what they had suffered are: “perpetual desolations” and “the enemy hath done wickedly” in verse three, and “Thine enemies roar.” Also, the enemies “set up their ensigns for signs:” in other words, they publish greatly their conquests and they boast that they have succeeded in overthrowing the godly people. The Psalmist is asking that the Lord intervene and fix this problem. We have the same problem in the way that the culture and universities and entertainment have been taken over by the ungodly. Jesus will fix it all when He returns.  

 

The Psalmist continues describing what the wicked have done against Jerusalem. The Bible says in Psalms 74:5-8, “A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees.[6] But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers.[7] They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling place of thy name to the ground.[8] They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land.” Before mechanization trees were felled by the hard work and skill of the man that handled an ax. The more skilled that a man was with an ax, the more that he was respected and honored. The tales about Paull Bunyan were derived from this truth. But how terrible that a skill that should have been used to accomplish good was used to destroy! Instead of felling trees for carpentry and for building, the axes were used by wicked men to destroy the sanctuary and the things that God had put in place. God has given you skills and abilities: use them for His glory to accomplish good for the world and for others. Why do wicked people destroy instead of build up? The answer is found in verse eight: “They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together.” Like all wickedness, it is a problem of the heart. The wicked people of the world need to receive the Lord Jesus into their hearts. They need to have a change of heart and turn from themselves to Jesus.

 

The Bible says in Psalms 74:9-10, “We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.[10] O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?” In both of these verses the Psalmist asks a very common question: “How long?” This question varies depending upon our situation in life. If we are single, we might ask the Lord: “How long must I be lonely and unmarried?” For a few people the answer is: for the rest of your life. Make sure that you do not make a major mistake by going your own way instead of God’s way. And then after being married, some couples ask the Lord: “How long until we have a child?” That too is up to God. Also, after being married a while, some couples find that marriage has its difficulties and they ask the question: “How long must I endure this?” The answer to that should be obvious since they promised: “Until death do us part.” But for Christians who see the upper hand that the wicked have in affairs of the world, the question is this: “How long Lord Jesus until you rapture the believers, and seven years later come back to fix all things and be King in Jerusalem?” The answer to that we know from scripture: maybe to day and maybe not for hundreds of more years. Jesus said in Acts 1:7, “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”

 

The Bible says in Psalms 74:11-15, “Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck it out of thy bosom.[12] For 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, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.[15] Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers.” God gives a lot of freedom to wicked people because God has given freedom to all human beings to make their own choices. Unfortunately for them, sometimes the wicked choose to persecute those who believe in Jesus. Of course, the Lord restrains and holds back the wicked ones whenever the Lord so chooses. The wicked would do more than they currently do if God let them. That is why an antichrist cannot yet come into power. It says in Second Thessalonians 2:6-8, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.[7] For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.[8] And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:” But we are just like the Psalmist. We would like the Lord to intervene and bring some victories over the wicked ones even in the age in which we live. That is what the Psalmist was praying. And so the Psalmist thinks about the world and the things that the Psalmist knows that God has done. God has done things in the great bodies of water. The “dragon” was probably some large sea animal such as a whale. The “leviathan” was another animal that lived in the water such as a crocodile. God has control over those animals and has killed them when God saw necessary. God has also done things to alter some of the great bodies of water. God certainly did that when the children of Israel escaped Egypt on dry ground. God can do and does do great and wonderful things in this world that belongs to Him, and so maybe the Lord will do something in the situation we are in.

 

The Bible says in Psalms 74:16-23, “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 the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.[19] O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever.[20] Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.[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 daily.[23] Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually.” In verses sixteen and seventeen the Psalmist continues writing about the power of God. We can look at His creation and see all the wondrous works that He has already done by His mighty power, and therefore, we just need God to decide to do something on our behalf too in the situation where we find ourselves with the wicked dominating in so many ways.

 

Why should God act? It says in verse eighteen, “the enemy hath reproached” and the “the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.” People have sinned against God. Certainly God will see and know. Certainly God will act against such wickedness. The ungodly are attacking the children of God. We are of small number, and we do not have much power in this world. And we follow the teachings of Jesus that tell us to be non-violent and to love our enemies, and so yes, we are like the “turtledove” and “the poor

 

The writer of this Psalm understood very well what was going on in the world. Because there are so many ungodly people who do not know and who do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ, just as it says in verse twenty, there are “dark places of the earth” and there are “habitations of cruelty.” Verse twenty-two points out that the foolish man reproaches God “daily.” Verse twenty-three also says that the tumult against God “increaseth continually.” What can we do about all of this craziness? We can rely upon the Lord to intervene and glorify His name just like this Psalmist was doing.  

 

 

 

 

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Copyright; 2019 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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