1 A maskil of Asaph.
Why have you rejected us for ever, O God? Why does your anger smoulder against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember the people you purchased of old, the tribe of your inheritance, whom you redeemed—Mount Zion, where you dwelt. 3 Turn your steps towards these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. 4 Your foes roared in the place where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs. 5 They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. 6 They smashed all the carved panelling with their axes and hatchets. 7 They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling-place of your Name. 8 They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where God was worshipped in the land. 9 We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be. 10 How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name for ever? 11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!
12 But you, O God, are my king from of old; you bring salvation upon the earth. 13 It was you who split open the sea by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters. 14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert. 15 It was you who opened up springs and streams; you dried up the ever-flowing rivers. 16 The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon. 17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.
18 Remember how the enemy has mocked you, O LORD, how foolish people have reviled your name.
19 Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts; do not forget the lives of your afflicted people for ever. 20 Have regard for your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.
21 Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name. 22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long. 23 Do not ignore the clamour of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.
Carry on pleading with God
(Verse 1) Our weakness and lack of trust can tempt us, like the psalmist, to think that God is not with us because we suffer unexpected difficulties or setbacks. Think of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and went to Egypt. Years later, then as Egypt’s prime minister, with his brothers grovelling to him there, he said, ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’ (Genesis 15:20) If you have trusted Jesus to save you, you are always in His hands and purpose. ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.’ (Romans 8:28) Trust Him ‘whatever’. Think long term.
(Verses 2-11) God is asked to remember His own people, and Zion where they met in the temple to worship God. That is now in ruins, like the rest of Jerusalem. A cruel and violent invasion caused it to be axed, smashed, burned, defiled, and crushed. Now no inspired prophets speak as God commanded. God is mocked, His name reviled. The psalmist asks, Will God always allow this?’ Why does He not respond to destroy them? This seems to refer to Nebuchadnezzar’s cruel invasion in 586BC.
(Verses 12-17) The psalmist responds well to his own questions! He concentrates on who God is and what He has done in the past. He is the eternal King who saves people. Today He still saves those who trust in Jesus and His death on the cross to take the punishment for their sins that separated them from God. Are you included? God is powerful over nature, and still controls the world’s water and solar systems, day and night, and seasons.
(Verses 18-23) He asks God urgently to :
- Help the oppressed, poor and needy
- Keep His covenant with His people
- ‘Rise up’ to punish His mocking foes
Despair gives way to prayer. It often does!