Psalms, Book 3, Psalms 73-75

Psalm 73‑75  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The third division or book is externally marked by but one Davidic psalm, all the rest, it would seem, being attributed to other inspired writers; internally by a larger character as compared with I and II, where, as we have observed, the Jews proper were before us in sufferings or anticipated glory, the first as still having access to the sanctuary in Jerusalem, the second as fled from it on the setting up of the abomination of desolation. Thus the prophetic spirit is fully maintained. They are no more of their own isolated solution than any other prophecy of scripture. But the collection on which we now enter manifests the larger sphere of Israel, and accordingly looks at the Gentiles in a more extensive way as envious and hostile to the people and the land because of the divine favor shown. A remnant of Ephraim are in the land, but the great national foe, the Assyrian, is yet in power and antagonism; and Messiah personally is not prominent as in both the books before. But the name of Jehovah rises increasingly for their hearts, at the close fully.
The opening utterance as usual gives the keynote. It is God good to “Israel,” but only “to such as are pure in heart” —gracious to His people as a whole, and so known by those that honored Him as a God of judgment. But the trial produced by the prosperity of the wicked, while judgment is not yet executed, is vividly expressed, and the secret only known in His presence which gave the clue and turned all for good. Why the Revised Version repeats the error of the Received in ver. 24 is hard to understand, if one knew not the force of habit. The mistranslation is probably due to Christian prejudice overriding the correct Israelitish hope. Yet it overthrows our real privilege. For those put to sleep by Jesus will God bring with Him; so that when Christ, our life, shall be manifested then shall we also with Him be manifested in glory. Whereas it is after the glory that God will receive Israel. Compare Zech. 2:88For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. (Zechariah 2:8).
Psalm 73
“A psalm of Asaph. Truly God [is] good to Israel, to the pure of heart. And for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the arrogant (fools), seeing the peace of wicked (men). For there are no bands in their death, and their strength [is] fat.
In the hardship of man they are not, and with mankind are not smitten. Therefore hath pride enchained them, a garment of violence covereth them. Their eyes stand out with fatness, the imaginations of heart overflow. They mock and speak wickedly, oppression from on high they speak. They set their mouth in the heavens, and their tongue walketh in the earth. Therefore his people turn hither, and waters in fullness are wrung out to them. And they say, How should God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High? Behold, these [are] wicked and prosperous forever; they increase in substance. Truly in vain I have cleansed my heart and washed my hands in innocency; and [while] I was smitten all the day, and my rebuking (was) at the mornings. If I have said, I will declare thus, behold, I have offended the generation of thy sons. When I thought to know this, a hardship it [was] in mine eyes until I went into the sanctuary of God (El): I consider their end. Truly thou settest them in slippery places, thou hast caused them to fall into ruins. How are they become a desolation in a moment! They have passed, consumed with terrors. As a dream on awaking, so, O Lord (Adonai), in arising, wilt thou despise their image. For my heart was grieved and I was pricked (in) my reins; and I was brutish and knew nothing: a beast I was with thee. Yet I [am] continually with thee: thou hast holden my right hand. By thy counsel thou wilt guide me, and after glory wilt receive me. Whom have I in the heavens? and beside thee have I no object of desire in the earth. My flesh and my heart faileth; rock of my heart and my portion [is] God forever. For, behold, those far from me shall perish; thou hast destroyed everyone whoring from thee. And for me, it is good to me to draw near to God: I have set in the Lord Jehovah my refuge to declare all thy works” (vers. 1-28).
Psalm 74
“Instructed, of Asaph. Why, O God, hast thou cast off forever? smoketh thy wrath against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thine assembly thou hast purchased of old, thou hast redeemed, [as] rod of thine inheritance, this mount Zion thou hast dwelt in. Lift up thy steps unto the perpetual ruins, all the enemy hath ill done in the holy place. Thine adversaries have roared in the midst of thy place of assembly: they have set their signs as signs. One is known as raising up axes on the thicket of trees; and now its carvings together they strike down with hatchet and hammers. They have set on fire thy holy place; to the earth they have profaned the tabernacle of thy name. They have said in their heart, Let me destroy them together. They have burnt all God's (El) places of assembly in the land. Our signs we see not; there is no more a prophet, and with us [is] none knowing how long. How long, O God, shall an adversary reproach? shall the enemy despise thy name forever? Why drawest thou back thy hand, thy right hand? from the midst of thy bosom consume them. Yet God [is] my King of old working deliverances in the midst of the earth. Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength; Thou didst break the heads of dragons on the waters; thou didst crush the head of leviathan—gavest it as food to a people dwelling in the wilderness. Thou didst cleave fount and torrent, thou didst dry up rivers ever flowing. Day is thine, yea, thine, night. Thou didst prepare light and sun; thou didst set all the borders of earth; summer and winter, thou didst form them. Remember this: an enemy hath reproached, O Jehovah, and a foolish people have despised thy name. Give not up the soul of thy turtle-dove to the wild beast (or greedy herd): forget not the life (or company) of thy poor forever. Have respect unto the covenant; for the dark places of the earth are full of the dwellings of violence. Let not the oppressed return ashamed; let poor one and needy one praise thy name. Arise, O God, plead thy cause; remember thy reproach from the fool all the day. Forget not the voice of thine adversaries: the tumult of those that rise up against thee goeth up continually” (vers. 1-23).
Psa. 74 is thus occupied with the external enemies, though the inner oppressor is also noticed, in remarkable contrast with the more spiritual dealing of God with the soul, set out in the Psalm before it which introduces the book. Outwardly things look at their worst, ravage unchecked, desolation of the sanctuary, roaring in the assemblies, man's sign the only sign apparent everywhere, and no voice even from God, not a prophet, nor one knowing how long. Yet faith owns God “my King” from of old, and the mighty deliverances, and pleads at length, “Remember this: an enemy hath reproached, O Jehovah,” rising up to the covenant name, as the poor remnant were His turtle dove.
Very distinct, yet in appreciable sequence, is the faith in the following psalm where Messiah's intervention is anticipated, and His upright judgment at the set time. He alone of men could speak of establishing the pillars of the earth or even land; He alone will cut off all the horns of the wicked or exalt those of the righteous.
Psalm 75
“To the chief musician Al-tashheth [destroy not], a psalm of Asaph, a song. We give thanks to thee, O God, we give thanks, and near [is] thy name: thy wonders declare [it]. When I shall reach the set time, I will judge uprightly. The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I have established its pillars. Selah. I said to the fools, Be not foolish, and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn. Lift not up your horn on high, speak not with arrogant neck. For not from east, nor from west, nor from south [lit. wilderness] [is] lifting up. For God [is] judge; one he putteth down, and lifteth up another. For in Jehovah's hand [is] a cup, and the wine foameth, it is full of mixture. He poureth out of it: surely the dregs of it all the wicked of the earth shall drain-drink. And I will declare forever, I will sing psalms to the God of Jacob. And all the horns of the wicked will I cut off; the horns of the righteous shall be exalted” (vers. 1-11).