Thursday, September 01, 2011

Psalm 74

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; 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.
5 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.
9 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?
11 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.
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 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.

Key Verse:

18 Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O LORD, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.

Key Observation:
This psalm is in what McGee terms the Leviticus section. It began with the last psalm, and this section mentions the temple prominently, hence the name.

Memory Verse:
12 For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.


The prosperity and wickedness of people is a theme in this psalm. McGee thinks that verse 4 is a reference to Antiochus Epiphanes, one of the four generals dividing up the kingdom of Alexander the Great. In 175 BC he profaned the temple by pouring the broth of a sow over the alter in the temple. Which leads us again to the topic of this psalm: bringing judgment to the wicked.

Every time I think of the wicked I think of how God has changed our perspective in the New Testament. Yes, God is going to judge the wicked! It is more sure than snow in Truckee. That has not changed, but our attitude toward the world certainly has. For instance, if I were to judge the New Testament characters, I would be hard pressed to find anyone more evil than Saul. You do not remember Saul? He was from a city called Taursus and it would be difficult to find anyone who fought and destroyed Christians more than did this dastardly fellow, Saul.

But if I passed judgment on this fellow, I would be judging the greatest of our apostles: Paul. The point is that when we look at others with our eyes, we see the ugly and the dirty, which may end up being all of that person’s character. But we do not know that! We cannot judge others as did our Lord as it says in John: “But Jesus did not commit himself to any of them, for he knew all men. He does not need any to testify of men, for he knows what is in men.” I wish when I looked at a man I could tell whether that man would receive the gospel or not. But I cannot! When I testify, I do not know where the Spirit has gone, or who He will convict and bring to Christ. I must treat all men as redeemable. I must do all I can to extend to them the bonafide offer of salvation through grace in Christ Jesus.

And this is why I think so many of our greatest Christians have been martyred; they give of themselves until there is no more to give, and still they give. They extend themselves to the wicked, hoping to discover that God’s grace might move in their hearts. Disappointed in their fellow humans they die at the hands of the wicked. Even a wicked man like Saul, for whom God had very special plans for. Yes, Christians were persecuted, and likely died at the hands of Saul. The scripture tells us that Saul held the coats of those who did the deed, but that makes him guilty. Yet God’s mercy was greater! How do you know, O Man, that the very person you detest and hate, is not meant to be saved into God’s divine plan? How can you know that God does not intend to use your love and mercy and kindness to bring that person to Christ? One day, I was the same sort of man as Saul, lost and without hope. Have you forgotten that you were also? Amazing Grace!

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now am found.
Was blind, but now I see

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