Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Cost of Begin Unfaithful

[Maskil of Asaph]

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.

—Psalm 74 KJV Bible

This psalm was written against the backdrop of the fall of the kingdom of Judah, the fall of the city of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and Babylonian captivity of God’s unfaithful people. These events were accomplished in 586 BC by the armies of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:17-20; 2 Kings 25:1-21). In this song, the psalmist relates the nation's cry for help, the conditions of the havoc, and the confidence of their hope.

The psalm description says it is a song of Asaph. Asaph was an outstanding musician who lived in the time of King David (Nehemiah 12:46). Asaph's father was Berechiah (1 Chronicles 6:39). David had appointed Asaph as a minister of music for the tabernacle (1 Chronicles 15:16-19) and Asaph's descendants were also official temple musicians (Ezra 2:41). Asaph was sometimes described as a "seer," or a prophet (2 Chronicles 29:30). Psalms 50 and 73 through 83 are attributed to Asaph, or perhaps written for Asaph to perform. The beautiful psalms of Asaph describe the world round us in a clear way, remind us that God cares for us, cause us to learn from events, and remind us of the greatness of God. Since the Asaph of David's time was long dead, the psalm may have been written by or for Asaph's descendants in his honor, or it may have been written by or for a contemporary who was also named Asaph.

The psalm description also states that this is a “maskil” —Hebrew, meaning “a hedge.” In the context of the psalms, it is thought to mean either a contemplative or teaching psalm, or a psalm written in a clever way. Thirteen psalms are described as "maskils." they include 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89 and 142.

In verses 1 and 2, the psalmist relates the people's cry to God for help. Why has the Shepherd cast off His sheep? You chose us long ago, redeemed us and established us on Zion (Jerusalem) where you dwelt (in the temple).

In verses 3 through 11, the psalmist relates the conditions of the havoc. The enemy has destroyed Your temple in Jerusalem, chopping it down bit by bit like a tree in the forest. They then burned what was left, confident that they had destroyed Your place of worship. They have desecrated Jerusalem with their idols and their decorations. Your prophets are now gone. When will you grow tired of their insults and destroy them?

In verses 12 through 23, the psalmist relates the confidence and hope of the people. God has long been our ruler and deliver. He divided the sea and destroyed Pharaoh and his army, making them food for the birds and beasts of the desert. God brought forth water in the desert for His people. God made the day and night and they are His. He made the earth and the seasons. God, remember that the wicked and foolish have done great wrongs against You and Your people. Don’t turn the innocent over to the predator. Remember your covenant with Your people. Let Your people return with honor to Your promised land.

Father, when I disgrace You; when I fail You, correct me. Show me what I’ve done wrong, and bring me back to serve you better.


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