Psalm 74:   Forget Us Not

Remember this, that the enemy has reproached, O Lord, And that a foolish people has blasphemed Your name. Oh, do not deliver the life of Your turtledove to the wild beast! Do not forget the life of Your poor forever.  Psalm 74:17, 18

A Prayer for Remembrance

 

Psalm 74 is a lament psalm of the community (as is Ps. 80) and a powerful presentation of Hebrew poetry at its best.  In exile, God’s people call on him to note the desecration of the sanctuary and to remember his covenant promises.  The poem describes God’s actions in the past and the desire of His people for Him to act in the present.  In some ways, Ps. 75 may be regarded as the Lord’s answer to the difficult questions of Ps. 74.  This is one of 11 psalms attributed to Asaph (Ps. 50; 73-83).  The outline of the poem is: (1) a community lament over a foreign invasion; (2)  a community complaint that there appears to be no hope;  (3) a recounting of God’s historic victories against evil powers; (4) a petition for God to remember His covenant and deliver His people; (5) a call for God to act on His own behalf against His enemies.

74:1, 2 O God, why is a classic lament in the Psalms.  The invasion of a foreign power into Judah and Jerusalem had devastated the people.  The foreign invader is viewed as an expression of the anger of the Lord.  The principal call of the psalm is for the Lord to remember His people and the foolish ridicule of their enemies.  In his appeal to God, the poet uses a series of endearing terms to describe the people of God:  the sheep of Your pasture, Your congregation, the tribe of Your inheritance, and this Mount Zion.  The psalmist also focuses on the loving actions of God for His people in the past:  You have purchased, You have redeemed, You have dwelt.  In the context of God’s past faithfulness to the people He has chosen, the poet calls upon God to deliver His people in their time of need.

1  A Contemplation of Asaph. O God, why have You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture? 2  Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old, The tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed– This Mount Zion where You have dwelt.

74:3, 4 Lift up Your feet is a call for God “to get up and walk” to see what is going on.  The worst part of the enemy invasion was the desecration of the temple in Jerusalem.  Several terms are used to describe the holy place:  the sanctuary, Your meeting place, and the dwelling place of Your name.

3  Lift up Your feet to the perpetual desolations. The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary. 4  Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place; They set up their banners for signs.

 

74:16, 17 In His great works of creation, God established His rule over day, night, light and the sun.  In addition, He established the seasons and set borders, a reference to the limitations.  He placed on the waters.  Asaph’s argument is that since God is in control, why was He allowing chaos in Israel?

16  The day is Yours, the night also is Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun. 17  You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter.

74:18:21 Three times in this poem the poet calls upon God to remember.  In addition to appealing to the honor of God’s name, the poet uses endearing terms for God’s people who are in distress:  Your turtledove, Your poor, the oppressed, and the poor and needy.  These were the people with whom the Lord Himself had chosen to make a covenant.

 18  Remember this, that the enemy has reproached, O Lord, And that a foolish people has blasphemed Your name. 19  Oh, do not deliver the life of Your turtledove to the wild beast! Do not forget the life of Your poor forever. 20  Have respect to the covenant; For the dark places of the earth are full of the haunts of cruelty. 21  Oh, do not let the oppressed return ashamed! Let the poor and needy praise Your name.

74:22, 23 The phrase plead Your own cause refers to a legal complaint and is often used by the prophets in contexts of impending judgment on Israel (Mic. 6:1).  For the third time in this poem, God is asked to remember His stake in Israel and His need to defend His own reputation against foolish people.

22  Arise, O God, plead Your own cause; Remember how the foolish man reproaches You daily. 23  Do not forget the voice of Your enemies; The tumult of those who rise up against You increases continually.




** God does remember.  Not only He does not forget us, He has never taken His eyes off of us since the creation.  The party who should do the remembering is us.  We should remember how He has been with us throughout human history and also with each one of us in our lives.


An Appeal to God against the Enemy

74 1  A Contemplation of Asaph. O God, why have You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture? 2  Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old, The tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed– This Mount Zion where You have dwelt. 3  Lift up Your feet to the perpetual desolations. The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary. 4  Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place; They set up their banners for signs. 5  They seem like men who lift up Axes among the thick trees. 6  And now they break down its carved work, all at once, With axes and hammers. 7  They have set fire to Your sanctuary; They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name to the ground. 8  They said in their hearts, “Let us destroy them altogether.” They have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land. 9  We do not see our signs; There is no longer any prophet; Nor is there any among us who knows how long. 10  O God, how long will the adversary reproach? Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever? 11  Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? Take it out of Your bosom and destroy them.

12  For God is my King from of old, Working salvation in the midst of the earth. 13  You divided the sea by Your strength; You broke the heads of the sea serpents in the waters. 14  You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces, And gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness. 15  You broke open the fountain and the flood; You dried up mighty rivers. 16  The day is Yours, the night also is Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun. 17  You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter.  18  Remember this, that the enemy has reproached, O Lord, And that a foolish people has blasphemed Your name. 19  Oh, do not deliver the life of Your turtledove to the wild beast! Do not forget the life of Your poor forever. 20  Have respect to the covenant; For the dark places of the earth are full of the haunts of cruelty. 21  Oh, do not let the oppressed return ashamed! Let the poor and needy praise Your name. 22  Arise, O God, plead Your own cause; Remember how the foolish man reproaches You daily. 23  Do not forget the voice of Your enemies; The tumult of those who rise up against You increases continually.

 

 

 

 

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