Hello. I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 73 described the author’s personal crisis of faith. He felt God was giving the wicked great success, and making his own life miserable. Today’s psalm, 74, describes a community crisis of faith, as Israel remembers how the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and destroyed God’s temple. It looked like God rejected his people and his temple, and gave their violent enemy complete success.
Feel the pathos as Israel complains to God about the situation:
Why have you rejected us forever?
Why does your anger smoulder against the sheep of your pasture? (v. 1).
Turn you steps towards these everlasting ruins,
All this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary (v. 3).
It is a long, long road from the comfort of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd, he leads me beside quiet waters” to this psalm which asks, “Why does your anger smoulder against your sheep?”
Feel the hopelessness in Israel’s memory:
Your foes roared in the temple where you met with us (v. 4a).
They smashed the carved panelling
with their axes and hatchets (v. 6).
They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
they defiled the dwelling-place of your name (v. 7).
And feel their despair when God doesn’t seem to notice or care:
We are given no signs from God;
no prophets are left,
and none of us know how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, God?
Will the foe revile your name forever? (vv. 9-10).
But the poet does not stop his journey at the station of despair. The chaos in the temple, the chaos in Jerusalem, and the chaos in his life of faith remind him of creation, when God overcame the forces of chaos to create an orderly and beautiful world.
As the poet shifts his focus from the destruction of the temple to your power and your kingship, we say with him:
God, you are our King from long ago,
you bring salvation to the earth (v. 12).
It was you who split open the sea by your power. . .
It was you who crushed the sea monster
and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert (vv. 13-14).
You were not weak at creation, God. You wrestled with the waters of chaos, you wrestled with the sea monster, you overcame the beast and cast it into the desert.
You replaced the primordial darkness with order and beauty and light:
Yours is the day, and yours the night;
you established the sun and moon.
You set the boundaries of the earth,
you made both summer and winter.
You are not a God who leaves things in chaos. You are the author of life, you shine light into the darkness, you create a world with dependable boundaries for the seas and dependable seasons for the climate.
We pray then for our lives, our churches, our society, which are overrun with chaos. Make us a new creation, God. Overcome the darkness, wrestle our monsters to the ground, send us summer and winter, light and darkness according to your design, bring your people out of despair into jubilant hope.
We are the sheep of your pasture, Lord. Lead us from pain and doubt and chaos back to the still waters and green pastures of Psalm 23.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.