When you see the images in the media today of bombings, destroyed buildings and terrified people in war-torn areas of the world, you have an idea of what the children of Israel endured during the Babylonian invasion. The Babylonians destroyed their city, their temple, their homes, their very lives.
Their lives were disrupted forever. Some of their countrymen were deported to Babylon. Those who stayed behind lived in a state of shock, disbelief and ruin.
Questions resonated in their mind. They wondered, “Where was God when all of this was going on?” “Does God care?” “What’s going to happen now?” “Will our lives ever get back to normal?”
Psalm 74 is written as a prayer to the Lord during this difficult time. The words of this psalm resonate with us today, and help us to deal with hurt and pain emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Psalm 74 reminds us that on our most difficult days it is most important that we put our trust in the Lord. He has a plan. He will get us through the difficulty. He will never leave us or forsake us.
“God, why have you rejected us forever?” In the first eleven verses, the psalmist describes how he and the nation felt as they watched their city, their places of worship and their homes being destroyed. They felt abandoned by the Lord, helpless to stop the enemy.
Why have You rejected us forever, God? Why does Your anger burn against the sheep of Your pasture?
They had forgotten that the Lord had warned them for centuries through the prophets that if they did not turn away from their sin then judgment would come. Now that it finally had come, they felt as if God had rejected them forever. He had not abandoned them, but that is how they felt, and they expressed that emotion to the Lord.
As we have said before, it is OK to be in that place (a place of woe), but it is not OK to stay there. Move from woe to glory. Move from sadness to joy. Move from despair to hope. The only way to get there is to focus on the Lord.
“God my King, You are on the throne.” Beginning in verse 12, the psalmist declares his faith and trust in the Lord. He acknowledges that God is Sovereign over all, in charge of all nations. Even though it appears that the enemy is in charge, that is not correct. The Lord is ultimately in charge. He is on the throne. He has been on the throne forever, from ancient times.
God my King is from ancient times, performing saving acts on the earth.
He is our King and we are His servants. We trust in Him and follow His commands. He is aware of the events on earth and He performs saving acts on earth. He sets the boundaries of the earth and of all nations. He works in the lives of individuals and in the events of nations. The story of the Bible is the story of God working in and through the events of history. God is still at work today. He is still on His throne.
The most important work God has done is sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins and rise from the dead. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God has provided the way for us to have eternal life when we put our saving faith in Him.
For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
“God, remember Your promises and defend Your cause!” The psalmist realized that he did not deserve the blessings of the past that God had given to him and his nation. It was the Lord’s favor that had been bestowed upon them. God had made covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David, and through those covenants the Lord gave His word that He would keep His promises.
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.
As you pray to the Lord, realize that it is His goodness, His blessings, His favor that we need. We are imperfect people who have been shown grace, mercy and love by a holy, perfect God. He is the covenant-keeping God, and we trust in Him. He will rise up. He will defend His cause. We put our trust in Him.
On our most difficult days, we put our trust in the Lord. He will get us through those days, and ultimately He will shower us with His blessings for all eternity.