Still the King
Rise up, O God, and defend your cause. Psalm 74:22
Psalm 74:4–8, 12–23
Jeremiah 32–33; Hebrews 1
One news report called it “the single deadliest day for Christians in decades.” The pair of attacks on Sunday worshipers in April 2017 defies our understanding. We simply don’t have a category to describe bloodshed in a house of worship. But we can find some help from others who know this kind of pain well.
Most of the people of Jerusalem were in exile or had been slain when Asaph wrote Psalm 74. Pouring out his heart’s anguish, he described the destruction of the temple at the hands of ruthless invaders. “Your foes roared in the place where you met with us,” Asaph said (v. 4). “They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name” (v. 7).
Yet the psalmist found a place to stand despite the awful reality—providing encouragement that we can do so too. “But God is my King from long ago,” Asaph resolved. “He brings salvation on the earth” (v. 12). This truth enabled Asaph to praise God’s mighty power even though His salvation seemed absent in the moment. “Have regard for your covenant,” Asaph prayed. “Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name” (vv. 20–21).
When justice and mercy seem absent, God’s love and power are in no way diminished. With Asaph, we can confidently say, “But God is my King.”
Lord, with the psalmist we pray for the honor of Your Name. Show Yourself strong and compassionate. Rise up and defend Your cause.
God will defend His Name.
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As the author of Psalm 74, Asaph helped Israel mourn the destruction of their temple by the Babylonians in 586 bc. Little did he know that someday his song would find an echo in an even more confusing loss. According to the New Testament, a greater temple of God (John 2:20–21) was nailed to a tree. This time, God Himself bore the loss. Where are we in the story?