Psalms – Prayers of Honesty
Chaos is all around us, but our hearts remain with Jesus. “There is no peace to be found”, many shout, but we know God is there. Even we, as his children, though trusting God will make all things right and good, begin to wonder when He will.
The Psalmist is beside himself as he sees the enemy tear down all the symbols and signs of God. We wonder if that is and/or will happen in our neighborhood. We wonder if God will go silent when it does happen?
Remember, God is not the one who moves away, we do. We stop praying to God with the trust and assurance that He hears us. We forget to even prayer thanks over our meals. We sometimes seriously forget Who we are even talking to…the Creator of everything.
We compartmentalize God and pull Him out on worship days, if we have time. We turn to Him only in crisis instead of daily developing an intimate relationship with Him, walking and talking with Him all day long. The new series, “God Friended Me”, shows us how far the world has drifted from God and how much God longs to draw us back to Himself.
Sometimes we worship signs and symbols of God but not God. As I read the lament of the Psalmist of the destruction of where “God lives”, I am wondering why the writer doesn’t know that God is everywhere? Then I wonder, do we do that? Do we worship our buildings, symbols, flags, banners, jewelry and t-shirts, fellowship halls and sanctuaries more than God, Himself? We cannot have a relationship with man-made buildings and edifices….only God!
Psalm 74, The Message
An Asaph Psalm
You walked off and left us, and never looked back.
God, how could you do that?
We’re your very own sheep;
how can you stomp off in anger?
2-3 Refresh your memory of us—you bought us a long time ago.
Your most precious tribe—you paid a good price for us!
Your very own Mount Zion—you actually lived here once!
Come and visit the site of disaster,
see how they’ve wrecked the sanctuary.
4-8 While your people were at worship, your enemies barged in,
brawling and scrawling graffiti.
They set fire to the porch;
axes swinging, they chopped up the woodwork,
Beat down the doors with sledgehammers,
then split them into kindling.
They burned your holy place to the ground,
violated the place of worship.
They said to themselves, “We’ll wipe them all out,”
and burned down all the places of worship.
9-17 There’s not a sign or symbol of God in sight,
nor anyone to speak in his name,
no one who knows what’s going on.
How long, God, will barbarians blaspheme,
enemies curse and get by with it?
Why don’t you do something? How long are you going
to sit there with your hands folded in your lap?
God is my King from the very start;
he works salvation in the womb of the earth.
With one blow you split the sea in two,
you made mincemeat of the dragon Tannin.
You lopped off the heads of Leviathan,
then served them up in a stew for the animals.
With your finger you opened up springs and creeks,
and dried up the wild floodwaters.
You own the day, you own the night;
you put stars and sun in place.
You laid out the four corners of earth,
shaped the seasons of summer and winter.
18-21 Mark and remember, God, all the enemy
taunts, each idiot desecration.
Don’t throw your lambs to the wolves;
after all we’ve been through, don’t forget us.
Remember your promises;
the city is in darkness, the countryside violent.
Don’t leave the victims to rot in the street;
make them a choir that sings your praises.
22-23 On your feet, O God—
stand up for yourself!
Do you hear what they’re saying about you,
all the vile obscenities?
Don’t tune out their malicious filth,
the brawling invective that never lets up.
SOMETHING TO PONDER…
Even though the prophets had warned that judgment was coming (2 Chron. 36:15-21), the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple were catastrophic events that shook the people’s faith. As he surveyed the situation, Asaph moved from despair to confidence and in the end affirmed that all was not lost.
QUESTION OF THAT DAY...Why did God permit a pagan nation to defeat the Jews and destroy their Holy City and sacred temple, and why was He doing nothing about it?
The people of Judah thought that the presence of the temple was their guarantee of security no matter how they lived, but the prophet Jeremiah refuted that lie (Jer. 7). Jeremiah even used the phrase “everlasting [perpetual] ruins” (v. 3 niv; Jer. 25:9) and warned that the temple would be destroyed and the nation taken into captivity. Many times in the past, God had intervened to save Israel, but now He seemed to be doing nothing.
Then Asaph remembers what God had done for them….Verse 12 is the central verse of the psalm and the turning point in Asaph’s experience. He lifted his eyes by faith from the burning ruins to the holy throne of God in the heavens and received a new perspective on the situation. (The Asaph who wrote 73 had a similar experience; see 73:17.) No matter how discouraging his situation was, Asaph knew that God was still on the throne and had not abdicated His authority to the Babylonians. The symbos and signs of God may have been destroyed but God, our Father, the Creator of the all cannot be destroyed.
The nation had been ravaged, the city of Jerusalem had been wrecked, and the temple had been destroyed and burned–but the essentials had not been touched by the enemy! The nation still had Jehovah God as their God, His Word and His covenant had not been changed, and Jehovah was at work in the world! God is at work in our world today, and we need not despair.
The psalmist believed that God had rejected His people. When are you most apt to feel that God has rejected you?
What promises has God given His people to remind us in hard times that He will not fail us?
Dear Heavenly Father,
When we think all is lost that we know and live, You remind us that is false. You are there. You always will be there. You are our hope, our salvation, our past, present and future. You are God and we are not. I love you with all that is in me. I praise your Holy Name. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. I cherish our relationship most of all. Thank you, Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen