Psalm 74 is an earnest plea from the community of Israel to God during a time of national disaster. They ask God why He has allowed them to suffer and express their hope that He will intervene. It's a lament about the destruction of the Temple, a central symbol of their faith. As New Covenant believers, we can draw parallels between their deep yearning for the restoration of the Temple and our understanding of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Temple, the embodiment of God's presence among His people.
Section 1: Theme - Cry of Desolation (Verses 1-11)
O God, why have you rejected us forever? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture? Remember the nation you purchased long ago, the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed— Mount Zion, where you dwelt. Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. Your foes roared in the place where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs. They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. They smashed all the carved paneling with their axes and hatchets. They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name. They said in their hearts, "We will crush them completely!" They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land. We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will last. How long will the enemy mock you, God? Will the foe revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!
Matthew 27:46 - Jesus on the cross cried out in a similar way, feeling abandoned by God. Like the psalmist, Jesus questioned God, indicating a moment of profound spiritual suffering.
The lament of the Israelites as they witness the destruction of the Temple and face the absence of God's signs.
The confusion and desperation expressed in their questions to God.
The boldness of their plea to God to intervene and destroy their enemies.
Have you ever felt like God has abandoned you in your time of need?
What can we learn from the psalmist's willingness to express his doubts and fears to God?
What can this psalm teach us about the Israelites' understanding of God's presence and the importance of the Temple?
But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth. It was you who split open the sea by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters. It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert. It was you who opened up springs and streams; you dried up the ever-flowing rivers. The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon. It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter. Remember how the enemy has mocked you, LORD, how foolish people have reviled your name. Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts; do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever. Have regard for your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land. Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name. Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long. Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.
Matthew 28:2-7 - The psalmist reminds God of His mighty acts, paralleling the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as God had power over nature and beasts in the past, He demonstrated His supreme power over death in the resurrection of His Son.
The psalmist's reminder of God's past acts of deliverance and His control over the forces of nature.
The continuing plea for God to remember His covenant and to not forget His people.
The desire for God to rise up and defend His cause against those who mock Him.
Why do you think the psalmist reminds God of His past acts of deliverance?
How does the psalmist's plea for God's intervention inspire you in your own prayers during times of hardship?
How can we reconcile the psalmist's portrayal of a seemingly silent God with our understanding of God's character?
In Psalm 74, the psalmist's lament resonates deeply with the crucifixion narrative of Jesus Christ.
The feeling of abandonment by God, expressed in the psalmist's cry, is echoed by Jesus on the cross in Matthew 27:46. However, the psalmist's call to remember God's past acts of deliverance points us to the ultimate act of deliverance—Jesus' resurrection—where God again demonstrated His mighty power.
Furthermore, the psalmist's yearning for the restoration of the Temple takes on new significance in light of Jesus' words in John 2:19-21, where He refers to His body as the Temple.
In Christ, God's presence is restored not in a physical building, but in the person of His Son. Thus, as New Covenant believers, we see our hope fulfilled in Christ—the true Temple, the ultimate sign of God's presence, and the ultimate act of God's intervention.