Psalm 74 – There Used to be a Sanctuary Here

Bible opened to Psalm 74 with Chuao Baconluxious Chocolate on white plate

Today’s passage: Psalm 74

Today’s chocolate: Chuao Baconluxious

Remember yesterday? How Asaph was troubled by the prosperity of evildoers, and then he came into the sanctuary of God and realized just how short-lived their stay of execution would be? How, in God’s presence, he saw the justice of God’s character, and his eyes were opened to the ultimate fate of the wicked? Well, today that sanctuary has been burned and sacked, and the perpetrators have scorned God and his people. Yesterday, Asaph’s troubles seemed so far away, but now it looks as though they’re here to stay.

Asaph cuts straight to the chase in the first verse of Psalm 74. “O God, why have You rejected us forever?” (1) he asks. The English translation “forever” makes the question sound more dramatic than it actually is. The Hebrew word is netsach, which covers a broad range of meanings, from eminence to endurance to everlastingness, and in this context, I don’t think it necessarily means some ultimatum of rejection. Still, that’s not to take the teeth out of the word. Strong’s Concordance describes the root sense of it as “the bright object at a distance travelled towards.” In the mind of Asaph, this desecration of the sanctuary marks a rejection that stretches as far as the eye can see.

That’s where we find ourselves sometimes. And in some sense, Asaph apparently still believes in yesterday, as he prays for God not to abandon his people in their affliction. After all, if he’d given up hope completely, he wouldn’t pray, nor would he recall God’s past deeds and provision through the seasons in vv.12-17. Still, this is a bleak spiritual winter for the psalmist. And while God promises, “I will not fail you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5), he never promises that we won’t ever feel forsaken.

 

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