Psalm 79

Psalm 79

How Long, O Lord?

A Psalm of Asaph.

79   O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
    they have defiled your holy temple;
    they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
  They have given the bodies of your servants
    to the birds of the heavens for food,
    the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.
  They have poured out their blood like water
    all around Jerusalem,
    and there was no one to bury them.
  We have become a taunt to our neighbors,
    mocked and derided by those around us.
  How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever?
    Will your jealousy burn like fire?
  Pour out your anger on the nations
    that do not know you,
  and on the kingdoms
    that do not call upon your name!
  For they have devoured Jacob
    and laid waste his habitation.
  Do not remember against us our former iniquities;
    let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
    for we are brought very low.
  Help us, O God of our salvation,
    for the glory of your name;
  deliver us, and atone for our sins,
    for your name’s sake!
  Why should the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”
  Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
    be known among the nations before our eyes!
  Let the groans of the prisoners come before you;
    according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!
  Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors
    the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
  But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
    will give thanks to you forever;
    from generation to generation we will recount your praise.


Psalm 79 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

The Psalms continue to reveal the human struggle with control. When we have control (or think we do), everything is fine and dandy. When we feel control slipping away, we struggle. Immediately, we turn to God and wrestle with Him over the reality that faces us. I use the word immediately because this is how we process. We are impatiently wired to find solutions to our issues as quickly as possible. This is by no means a negative characteristic. However, it can become a big issue when we allow it to derail our faith. Here in Psalm 79, the psalmist pleads with God asking a familiar question.

How long, Yahweh? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy keep burning like fire?

Psalms 79:5 HCSB

How long? We’ve probably all asked God this question… multiple times a day. But seriously, we’ve asked it a lot. Again, our nature is to minimize pain, eliminate suffering and bring our world back into balance. God does not often work as quickly as we would like. This is an aspect to the Psalms that I appreciate so much. It is a series of laments and praises all focused around authentic struggles. There is pain, questioning, wrestling, mourning, anger, and depression. But, the one constant is praise. No matter what the situation, hope sits on the horizon. The night may seem like forever, but the joy is coming in the morning.

Psalm 79 is no different. Though the psalmist asks for vengeance on his enemies, it is very fitting that he ends with praise.

Then we, Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will thank You forever; we will declare Your praise to generation after generation.

Psalms 79:13 HCSB

We must remember that joyful praise will eventually replace our debilitating feelings of hurt, anger, and bitterness. God will restore balance. He will have His justice. He has promised to make all things new.

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