July 4th – Les Kovacs Psalm 79
Observe: Psalm 79 laments the destruction of Jerusalem, and it was likely composed by a descendant of Asaph, who was King David’s chief music director.
In the first 4 verses of the psalm, we witness the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem. The city is destroyed, and the temple is defiled. The streets are littered with the bodies of the dead which have been left as food for the birds and wild animals. The streets run with blood because there is no one to bury the dead. Their enemies heap scorn and derision on them.
The next verses 5-8 are a cry for mercy. The psalmist asks how long they must endure God’s anger. He asks God to pour out His wrath on the other nations who do not revere the Lord instead, for His people are in desperate need.
The following verses 9-12 plead for forgiveness of their sins and deliverance from their enemies. They ask the Lord to avenge their destruction and captivity, and to pay back seven-fold the insult their enemies have cast on God’s name.
The psalm ends with verse 13 in which the people promise to praise God’s name forever, from generation to generation.
Interpret: This psalm, like the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations deals with the destruction of Jerusalem as a result of the people turning away from God and following their own ways.
Jerusalem had served as the capitol city for the Kingdom of Israel, and later for the southern Kingdom of Judah, for many centuries. The great buildings, the Temple, and the palaces had weathered much over the years, and probably looked like they would survive forever. They gave the people a false sense of permanence and invulnerability. The kings, priests, and people began to pay less attention to the worship of the Lord and were lulled into a sense of apathy towards Him by their great city. Although their prophets continually warned them about their bad behaviour, they ignored the warnings because they believed they were God’s chosen people so He would always protect them no matter what. As we know, eventually, God’s judgement did fall on them, and their world came crashing down around their heads in a most brutal and dreadful way when the Babylonians captured and razed the city.
Too late the people realized the folly of their defiance of God as they endure the pain and the shame of the destruction of their city, their temple, and their people. Too late they remembered who the source was of their strength and prosperity. Too late they returned to the Lord to ask His forgiveness and deliverance. And in their remembrance of who He is, they will still praise Him.
Application: How much like the Israelites we are! Every day of our lives we are faced with choices to make. We make our decisions based on how the outcome will affect us personally or the people we care about. Sometimes those decisions line up with God’s will, and sometimes they don’t, but either way, we usually make them based on our own wisdom and understanding, and what we believe the desired outcome should be. Following our own desires can sometimes lead to painful lessons for us to learn and disasters may result.
In just about everyone’s life, there will be times when it feels like our world is crashing down around our heads. Sometimes those catastrophes are the result of our own bad choices and sometimes they are the result of outside circumstances that we have little or no control over. When it happens, to whom do you turn? Do you try to handle it on your own? Do you turn to God, but only when things have spun completely out of your control, and you have nowhere else to turn? Or do you turn to God because that’s what you always do?
God loves you. He always has. He wants to have a real, on-going relationship with you. Although He Is glad when you come to Him under any circumstances, He wants you to include Him in all your daily activities, not just when you are distressed, so that He can help you align your will with His. When you spend time with God in your prayer time, quiet time, or reading scripture, you get closer to Him, and it becomes more and more natural to simply seek Him in all the different aspects of your life. The challenges in your life don’t define the depth of your relationship with God. The depth of your relationship with Him define your response to the challenges. Sing His praises day and night.
Prayer: Father God, we praise you and bless the name of Jesus above all things. Help us to praise you when life is hard, as well as when they are good, for only you are steadfast and true. You are our one true hope during all of life’s ups and downs. Open our lips, Lord, and our mouths will declare your praise. This we pray in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
Song: Praise You in this Storm – Casting Crowns
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.