- (A special psalm by Asaph.) Our God, why have you completely rejected us? Why are you so angry with the ones you care for?
- Remember the people you rescued long ago, the tribe you chose to be your very own. Think of Mount Zion, your home;
- walk over to the temple left in ruins forever by those who hate us.
- Your enemies roared like lions in your holy temple, and they have placed their banners there.
- It looks like a forest chopped to pieces.
- They used axes and hatchets to smash the carvings.
- They burned down your temple and badly disgraced it.
- They said to themselves, "We'll crush them!" Then they burned every one of your meeting places all over the country.
- There are no more miracles and no more prophets. Who knows how long it will be like this?
- Our God, how much longer will our enemies sneer? Won't they ever stop insulting you?
- Why don't you punish them? Why are you holding back?
- Our God and King, you have ruled since ancient times; you have won victories everywhere on this earth.
- By your power you made a path through the sea, and you smashed the heads of sea monsters.
- You crushed the heads of the monster Leviathan, then fed him to wild creatures in the desert.
- You opened the ground for streams and springs and dried up mighty rivers.
- You rule the day and the night, and you put the moon and the sun in place.
- You made summer and winter and gave them to the earth.
- Remember your enemies, LORD! They foolishly sneer and won't respect you.
- You treat us like pet doves, but they mistreat us. Don't keep forgetting us and letting us be fed to those wild animals.
- Remember the agreement you made with us. Violent enemies are hiding in every dark corner of the earth.
- Don't disappoint those in need or make them turn from you, but help the poor and homeless to shout your praises.
- Do something, God! Defend yourself. Remember how those fools sneer at you all day long.
- Don't forget the loud shouts of your enemies.
Enemies of Israel and of God had destroyed the temple, leaving it in ruins, and threatened the destruction of Israel. Asaph asked God to "Remember Your congregation," which was Israel, and to "Remember Mount Zion where You dwell," which was the temple in Jerusalem. To make their situation more desperate, Israel had no prophet to give spiritual counsel and to help them know how long this siege by the enemy would last. And so he asked, "God, how long will the foe mock? Will the enemy insult Your name forever?" (74:10)
In Asaph's appeal to God for help he called upon His mighty powers, for God had performed "saving acts on the earth" from ancient times. Destroying their enemy would be nothing new for God. God had also "divided the sea" with His strength and "smashed the heads of the sea monsters in the waters." (74:13)
Destroying their enemy would be nothing for God. God not only had power over monsters but also over nature, causing streams to flow or stop flowing and establishing the moon and sun. He even made the seasons - summer and winter. Saving Israel from her enemy was no problem for God. But why didn't He act? That was the question.
As if God needed prodding, Asaph reminded Him that "the enemy has mocked the LORD, and a foolish people has insulted Your name." (74:18) He also reminded God that He should consider His covenant with Israel. So he asked God to "Arise . . . defend Your cause" and to remember the insults against Him by this enemy.
The historical setting for Asaph's appeal for God's help is uncertain, but it would seem a strong possibility that it was Babylonian's invasion of Israel. But whether it was that occasion or another, the fact that God had allowed an enemy to penetrate Israel's defenses and destroy the temple was no doubt a result of Israel's idolatry and other sins. Asaph may well have been like many of us who have little contact with God or even much thought about Him until they are in trouble. Then they want His help. If this was the case with Asaph's prayer and it was the occasion of Babylonian's invasion, God's help would be a long time in coming and would not save them from the enemy's grasp.