Psalm 79

Psalm 79
The Reaction of the Faithful Remnant to the Desolation of Jerusalem
Psalm 79. This is another Psalm of Asaph, and it parallels Psalm 74 quite closely, with a few differences. Psalm 74 describes the reaction of the faithful remnant to the desolation of the temple. In Psalm 79 we have a focus on the destruction of the city and people. Prophetically, this would place Psalm 79 shortly after the first attack of the Assyrian. This Psalm gives us the expressions of the faithful remnant as they cry out for God for help (Joel 2:12-17).
A Psalm of Asaph.
1 O God, the nations are come into thine inheritance: thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps.
2 The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowl of the heavens, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth:
3 Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them.
4 We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a mockery and a derision to them that are round about us.
vv.1-4 The Slaughter of Jews in Jerusalem. These verses introduce the subject of the Psalm; the reaction of the remnant to witnessing the sack of Jerusalem by the attack of the king of the north. The “inheritance” of God is first invaded by “the nations”; i.e. the nations listed in Psalm 83, which form the confederacy of the king of the north, enter the land of Canaan. They come into the temple, and leave Jerusalem in heaps of rubble and debris. The dead bodies of Jews are lying everywhere for the birds to feast on. “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein” (Zech. 13:8). See also Zech. 14:1-2. We gather from other scriptures that many of the faithful remnant will be protected from this attack (Zeph. 2:3; e.g. Jer. 36:26). Who then are “thy servants” and “thy saints” in v.2? It could be that the remnant see the attack of the king of the north as an attack on the nation, including themselves, which it is. It could be that they, still not clear as to the purpose of God in the judgment, identify themselves with the nation that is under attack. It is similar to Daniel 8:24, where it says the king of the north will “destroy the mighty ones, and the people of the saints”, referring to the Jews generally. The slaughter is immense; “Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem”. They speak of the reproach of their “neighbors”, and the “mockery” and “derision” from those around. It is interesting that in the confederacy of the king of the north are some of Israel’s neighbors.
5 How long, O Jehovah? wilt thou be angry for ever? Shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out thy fury upon the nations that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that call not upon thy name:
7 For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his habitation.
8 Remember not against us the iniquities of our forefathers; let thy tender mercies speedily come to meet us: for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation, because of the glory of thy name; and deliver us, and forgive our sins, for thy name’s sake.
10 Wherefore should the nations say, Where is their God? Let the avenging of the blood of thy servants that is shed be known among the nations in our sight.
11 Let the groaning of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thine arm, preserve those that are appointed to die;
12 And render unto our neighbours, sevenfold into their bosom, their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.
13 And we, thy people and the sheep of thy pasture, will give thanks unto thee for ever; we will shew forth thy praise from generation to generation.
vv.5-13 A Cry for Help. The faithful ask Jehovah “How long?” (v.5), and they desire Him to pour our His fury on the nations that have attacked Israel (v.6). While this Psalm isn’t exactly a confession of sin, there does seem to be a lurking suspicion that the judgment of Jerusalem is a consequence of Israel’s sin; “Remember not against us the iniquities of our forefathers”. In v.9 their thoughts rise higher, and they call for help “because of the glory of thy name”, and ask for governmental forgiveness of Israel’s past sins “for thy name’s sake”. The remnant are particularly grieved that their God has been reproached, as if He were uncaring or incapable of intervening; “Wherefore should the nations say, Where is their God?”. They know God’s arm is great, and ask Him to take pity, and avenge Israel against her adversaries. This prayer will be answered when the Lord destroys the king of the north, and again when Israel is led by Christ into battle against her neighbors. The desired outcome of God’s deliverance would be that restored Israel, “the sheep of thy pasture”, would praise and give thanks unto God for ever!