Tuesday, December 20, 2022

2022.12.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 74

Read Psalm 74

Questions from the Scripture text: Who penned this Psalm (superscript)? What has he concluded from Israel’s present circumstances (Psalm 74:1)? But who are Israel, unto God (Psalm 74:2)? What specifically have the enemies destroyed, and in what manner (Psalm 74:3-8)? What is hindering Israel’s understanding (Psalm 74:9)? Whose actions (inactions) are even more troubling than the enemies’ (Psalm 74:10-11)? But what has He done in the past, in both creation and redemption (Psalm 74:12-17)? For Whose sake does the Psalmist want God to act (Psalm 74:18Psalm 74:22-23)? How does he ask God to think of His people (Psalm 74:19)? What, specifically, does he ask God to remember (Psalm 74:20)? What about them does he present as a plea (Psalm 74:19b, Psalm 74:21)? 

What can believers pray when their enemies are given such success that it appears that God is against them? Psalm 74 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when the church’s enemies are permitted to afflict the church, so that the chastening hand of God appears to be against her, the church can still plead the glory and character of God, and her own pitiable estate and relationship to Him.  

The Psalm takes place in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem and the third and final wave of the Babylonian exiling of Judah. There is much that we can learn by how the Psalmist prays.

The silent wrath of God is more troubling than the noisy rage of enemiesPsalm 74:1Psalm 74:10-11. Enemies rage and destroy; that’s what they do. But the Psalmist leads with the fact that this all comes in God’s anger against His own people. The first seventeen verses of the Psalm are built on the “Why?” of Psalm 74:1 and the “How long” and “Why” of Psalm 74:10. It is the anger of God (Psalm 74:1) and keeping of His hand in His pocket (Psalm 74:11) that is most dismaying.

The most worthy trait of God’s people is that they are HisPsalm 74:2Psalm 74:19. This is a people in bad spiritual shape. Not only has Judah been slaughtered and exiled by Babylon, but they have no Word from the Lord (Psalm 74:9). Still, there is one hope: they are God’s congregation, God’s purchase, God’s inheritance, God’s redeemed, God’s dwelling, God’s dear and defenseless turtledove.

The great reason for God to act is for the vindication and display of His own gloryPsalm 74:3-8Psalm 74:18Psalm 74:22-23. Of all that was destroyed/done during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Psalmist focuses upon the destruction of the temple, emphasizing it with the lively description in Psalm 74:5-6. The restoration of God’s worship (Psalm 74:3-8) and vindication of His Name (Psalm 74:10Psalm 74:18) are the great reason for Him to act for His own cause (Psalm 74:22).

God’s past mighty works give cause to hope for present and future mighty worksPsalm 74:12-17. What He did in creation, what He did at the flood, what He did at the exodus, what He does every day and every night… these are all great displays of His power. So, we may know not only that He has the power but that He is pleased to display that power gloriously. And, we may rejoice that He is pleased to display it in the saving of His people.

A great plea with God is our own pitiable conditionPsalm 74:19-21. Israel are as a defenseless turtledove (Psalm 74:19a). They are the Lord’s poor (verse 19b). They are oppressed (Psalm 74:21a). They are poor and needy (verse 21b). Because God is compassionate and acts for the glory of His character, our neediness and suffering are strong reasons to raise in prayer that He would act.

The prayer itself is part of its own answerPsalm 74:9. Finally, let’s consider again verse 9, where a big part of the problem was that they did not have a word from God telling them what would happen. This word would come eventually from the pen of Jeremiah. But the Lord has given them another important word: this very Psalm! 

The Lord gives us what we need by His Word. And we often don’t need to know details about our situation. What we do need is to call upon His Name in truth. And praise God, He gave them a Spirit-inspired song and prayer when they need it. And thus, He has given it to us in His Word, too. Praise God!

What trouble or suffering are you in? Following this Psalm, what should be your greatest pain in it? But what has the Lord given you in the midst of it? Where is the Lord’s Name being dishonored in the church and the world. How does this Psalm help you pray for that situation? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, You make Yourself known in the gathering of Your people. You have shown Your power in the creation, the flood, the Exodus, and the risings and settings of the sun every single day. But more than that You have shown Your power in the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. For His sake, continue to show Your glorious power by saving us unto the praise of Your Name. For, we ask it in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP80 “Hear, O Hear, Us” or TPH60 “You, O God, Reject and Spurn Us”

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