Remember, God…

A devotion on PSALM 74 – 8-24-21

2 Chron. 29:30 “Moreover King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped.”

1 Why have You rejected us forever, God?

When in the pit of despair, time takes on a warped sense and seems protracted. God’s rejection can seem like it will never end.

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Why does Your anger burn against the sheep of Your pasture?

This is an appeal to God’s shepherd’s heart. The shepherd’s only business is his sheep. If he destroys them, then what? Yet it is telling that even in the shepherd’s burning anger, the sheep can still appeal to him and hope for respite.

2 Remember Your congregation, which You purchased long ago

We can petition God on account of having purchased us. We can appeal to the purchase contract and to the fact that he is vested not only in cost, but in longevity.

and redeemed as the tribe for Your own possession. Remember Mount Zion where You dwell.

He shall not reject his own. Costly would be the exchange for the tribe. The little tribe. The chosen little tribe of Benjamin. And the symbolic mountain, not the greatest but the chosen one, where he will dwell forever and ever with his beloved.

3 Make Your way to the everlasting ruins, to all that the enemy has destroyed in the sanctuary.

4 Your adversaries roared in the meeting place where You met with us. They set up their emblems as signs.

5 It was like men in a thicket of trees, wielding axes,

6 then smashing all the carvings with hatchets and picks.

7 They set Your sanctuary on fire; they utterly desecrated the dwelling place of Your name.

Surely a visit to the utter destruction would rouse God’s ire and his sense of urgent vengeance. The only noise heard in the sanctuary was normally praise and worship. The proud roar of the enemy pounding their chest in self-exaltation was a mockery to him who was worshipped in the sanctuary and an abomination to regular worshippers.

8 They said in their hearts, “Let us oppress them relentlessly.”

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They burned down every place throughout the land where God met with us.

Why does Your anger burn against the sheep of Your pasture?

This serves as a wake-up call that though God loves the worship gathering, a heart of worship is far more important to him than finials and standards erected with utmost care in our physical places of worship. There is nothing inherently sacred about physical places where we gather, though we are to treat them with reverence.

I grew up being taught that church was to be entered and occupied in prayerful silence and with a head bowed in veneration. One did not bound into the building yacking it up with buddies. It was unthinkable to have children running around in play. We must be aware that the physical space can easily become an idol.

9 There are no signs for us to see. There is no longer a prophet. And none of us knows how long this will last.

10 God, how long will the enemy mock? Will the foe insult Your name forever?

11 Why do You hold back Your hand? Stretch out Your right hand and destroy them!

God’s silence can be deafening and unsettling. We like to have a play by play on his plans (preferably in advance so we can approve it) and when it is lacking, we panic and doubt. This believer knows that God’s hand is mighty indeed but for some reason, God is holding it back. He begs God to unleash its fury.

12 God my King is from ancient times, performing saving acts on the earth.

13 You divided the sea with Your strength; You smashed the heads of the sea monsters in the waters;

14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan; You fed him to the creatures of the desert.

15 You opened up springs and streams; You dried up ever-flowing rivers.

16 The day is Yours, also the night; You established the moon and the sun.

17 You set all the boundaries of the earth; You made summer and winter.

Asaph appeals to God’s historic power dividing seas and leading monstrous sea creatures along as on a leash. Much like he chooses Mt. Zion over more grand mountains, God dries up ‘ever-flowing’ rivers and opens up springs and streams – frequently in the desert. He is master over all creation, overseeing day and night, alternating moon and sun, summer and winter. He truly sets all the boundaries of the earth.

18 Remember this: the enemy has mocked Yahweh, and a foolish people has insulted Your name.

19 Do not give the life of Your dove to beasts; do not forget the lives of Your poor people forever.

20 Consider the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of violence.

21 Do not let the oppressed turn away in shame; let the poor and needy praise Your name.

22 Rise up, God, defend Your cause! Remember the insults that fools bring against You all day long.

23 Do not forget the clamor of Your adversaries, the tumult of Your opponents that goes up constantly.

This passage abounds with appeals to God for his own sake and glory. That is a safe petition. We have no leg to stand on – no good deeds that would save us. God’s bigness alone, his kindness and his covenant; his renown and his great love for us, will drive him to act on our behalf. Call on him, beloved.

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