Sunday, February 20, 2022

PSALM 76: God’s Presence In Israel



God’s Presence In Israel

God is Known In Israel


The Psalmist begins the psalm with a declaration of God’s presence in Israel. He is known by the Israelites. They have a relationship with him through the covenant. They are thankful for his presence among them. They revere his name, saying it is great. By including both Judah and Israel in this declaration, the psalmist is including all of Israel in this declaration. 

With the construction of the Tabernacle and, later, the Temple, God assured Israel that his presence would dwell with them as a nation, as his people. David moved the ark to Jerusalem and his son, Solomon, later built the Temple there. The ark, with the mercy seat, was where God’s presence dwelt. The word “Salem” in verse two is a reference to Jerusalem. The reference to Zion is a reference to Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, where the Temple was built.

The psalmist’s statement is a statement of belief. He believed God dwelt in the Temple in Jerusalem. It is also a statement of praise that God chose to dwell with the Israelites and to protect them from attacks of the Gentiles. 

As a side note, it can be difficult to interpret the word Zion as you read through the Bible. Zion comes to represent Jerusalem, then all of Israel, and, ultimately, the heavenly city promised to believers. The Isaac Watt’s hymn “Marching To Zion” captures this last concept. The chorus of the hymn is:

We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful, Zion:
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.

The scriptural basis for this concept, and the hymn, is Hebrews 12:22:

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…”.

God The Protector and Divine Warrior


These verses portray God defending Jerusalem from an attack. We do not know the specific event the psalmist has in mind. He might even have several in mind. 

God broke the weapons of the enemy. (3) He kept them from “spoiling” Jerusalem. (5)“Spoiling” means taking the goods and valuables of the people you defeated. He stunned them. (6) He put them to sleep. This was a rebuke to them for their attack on Jerusalem. 

This language seems to fit with God’s defense of Jerusalem against the attack of the Assyrians under King Sennacherib. 2 Kings 19:32-35 tells the story:

“Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against this city, declares the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David. And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold these are all dead bodies.” 

In the midst of this, the psalmist praises God as glorious and majestic. (4) He said that God is to be feared (7) No one can stand before him when his anger is roused and when he utters judgment. (7-8) God was acting to save the humble of the earth, which would include Israel, from those who are arrogant because of their military power.

Praising God


“The wrath of man shall praise you” in verse 10 of the English Standard Version, means that God will create praise even from the actions of those men who act wrathfully. 

Even as human leaders acquire power, God can use them to bring glory to himself. The story of God forcing Egypt’s Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt is an example. God said to Pharaoh: “But for his purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16)

The psalm concludes with a call to worship. He tells Israel to make vows and keep them and to bring gifts to God. He says God is to be feared, even by the powerful on Earth. (12)


God is present with his people. He present with believers today in two ways. He is present when his church is gathered together. Jesus said “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them”. (Matthew 18:20)

God is also with us individually. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” 

God defends and protects his people. He protected Israel from physical harm when they lived in obedience to him. He protects us spiritually. He gives us spiritual armor, described in Ephesians 6:10-17, so that we are able to stand against the schemes of the devil and to stand firm in the faith. 

God gives us the power to submit to him and to resist the devil, causing him to flee from us. (James 4:7)

God still deserves our praise for his glory and majesty. 

We are to fear God in the sense that we recognize his power and are reverent toward him. 

Monday, February 14, 2022




The last two psalms showed the psalmist wrestling with theological questions, such as why the wicked prosper, as well as dealing with personal oppression and struggle. Both psalms come to expressions of faith after the struggle.

Psalm 75, in contrast, is a psalm of unmitigated thanksgiving and praise to God for his presence and his mighty acts. This is a song and may have been sung liturgically by the congregation.



The psalm begins with thanks to God for his presence with Israel as shown by his mighty deeds. To say “your name” is near is to say God is near to them, he is present among them. 

God’s presence certainly dwelled with Israel in the Tabernacle and Temple, but here the emphasis is on God’s presence in upholding Israel, such as in the Exodus or in protecting Israel from defeat at the hands of its enemies. The psalmist here says they recount God’s wondrous deeds. 

“Recount” means to give an account of. So God’s people give an account of the things God has done and recognize that his presence was with them at those times. 

We should do this in our day as well. Individually, we can recount what God has done for us. As a congregation, we can do the same, either in public prayer, testimony, or song. 

For example, we may sing the hymn “I Will Sing The Wondrous Story”, which recounts the death of Christ for us and his saving us. The first stanza says:

I will sing the wondrous story

Of the Christ who died for me.

How He left His home in glory

For the cross of Calvary.

I was lost, but Jesus found me,

Found the sheep that went astray,

Threw His loving arms around me,

Drew me back into His way. 

In contrast, a lack of thankfulness is unpleasing to God. Romans 1:21 includes the failure to give thanks as a characteristic of those who are unrighteous and futile in their thinking.


The “Oracle\the Words of God

In these verses, God speaks about judgment. The first thing he says is that  he and he alone will set the time for judgment. He will judge, but he will do it when he determines. How he will determine it, this text does not say. But, we get some ideas from other texts. 

First, Jesus told us that no one knows the time of his return, when judgment will occur, except God the Father. (Matthew 24:36) So, there is no point in trying to calculate a date. Conversely, there is no point in believing it will not happen, because it could happen at any time. 

Another text is Genesis 15, where God promises the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants, but they will not get there until the fourth generation that is in Egypt. The reason is that the sin of the Amorites is not yet full. (Generation 15:16) This shows us the Israelite conquest of Canaan was not only a deliverance of the Israelites, but a judgment on those who lived there, the Amorites. God often accomplishes more than one thing when he does something. Here he is granting mercy to the Amorites while he prepares Israel to take over the land. Similarly, the delay in the final judgment now is an act of mercy toward those who have not yet believed. 

Finally, there is 2 Peter 3, where Peter confronts those who scoff at the idea of judgment since the world has existed a long time and judgment has not come. Peter first reminded them that God has actually judged the world before and destroyed it with the Great Flood. God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. (Genesis 6:5) And so he determined to “blot out” all living things except Noah and his family and the animals Noah preserved at God’s instruction. Peter was saying this shows God judged before and he will judge again. 

Peter also reminded us that God’s time is not our time. He is eternal and also sees the whole picture of existence. So, one of his days, figuratively speaking, might as well be a thousand years, and vice versa. He is not bound by time as we are (By the way, this is not to give us a figure for calculating the end of time and the judgment.)

Not only will God judge in his own time, he will judge “with equity” (ESV or NASB) or “uprightly” (NIV). He will both condemn his enemies and vindicate the godly. 

In the meantime, while we wait for Christ’s return and our vindication, God remains sovereign and in control. When the earth’s peoples wobble, unbalanced by evil, God protects it for coming completely apart. He keeps the pillars steady. It is the picture of a building tottering in an earthquake, but God keeping the building’s pillars from falling apart. 

In verses 4 and 5, God spoke directly to the evil people, telling them not to be arrogant. Speaking with a “haughty neck” (ESV) or “outstretched neck (NIV) is to speak with insolence, being disrespectful to God. The “horn” is a symbol of power in the old testament. So, God is telling them not to exalt their power against God (“on high”). 


 Prophecy of Judgment


The reason the wicked and arrogant should not disrespect God it that only he lifts one up and puts another one down. He is the only one who will execute judgment. And he will judge the wicked. The cup of foaming wine in verse 8 is a metaphor for God’s wrath, which he will pour out on the wicked until it is completely exhausted. 

Revelation 15-16 shows us this truth in a picture. There are seven angels with seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God. The number seven is symbolic for completeness, so the full wrath of God is poured out, resulting in the calamities described in Revelation 16. None of the wicked can escape God’s wrath.

A Final Praise


The psalmist ends the psalm with a praise to God, a doxology. He will forever declare that God is the one who will judge the wicked and vindicate the righteous (those who believe in Jesus). He reaffirmed that the power of the wicked (“horns”) will be put down, but the righteous will be lifted up, or vindicated.


We believe that Christ will return, he will raise all believers to be with him for eternity. He will raise those who reject Christ to judgment. Sometimes God brings judgment upon the wicked during their lifetime. We have certainly seen some rich, powerful, and famous people called to account and their lives destroyed for their wickedness. But, even if they are not brought to account in this life, they will face God’s judgment and wrath in the next. 

We must faithfully and patiently wait for Christ’s return and the vindication of our faith in him.

We must also realize that those around us who have not come to Christ face judgment, and we should pray and witness with the goal of their salvation.

Tuesday, February 08, 2022



Psalm 73

Why Do The Wicked Prosper? 

This Psalm 73 is the beginning of the “Third Book” of the Psalms. It contains Psalms 73-89.

There are 5 “books” of the Psalms, the number chosen by Jewish scholars to match the 5 books of Moses in number. 

Psalms 73-83 are attributed to Asaph.  Asaph was a contemporary of David.

When David brought the ark to Jerusalem, he appointed some Levites to minister before the ark to sing and play thanksgiving and praise songs

Asaph was the chief of these Levites & also played the cymbals (1 Chronicles 16).  David appointed Asaph to direct the music in the temple when it was built.

 The music was provided by his sons with instruments. (2 Chronicles 25)

The psalm begins with the writer saying God is good to Israel, those who are pure in Heart. “Pure in heart” means totally committed to God. Therefore, we see that he is referring to spiritual Israel, not the whole nation. He recognizes that everyone in the nation is not committed to God. 

A good point for us is that knowing God is good, and good to his people, is the starting point for us to resolve theological issues.

The problem: why the wicked prosper


The psalmist was having a crisis of faith.  He had almost stumbled or slipped as he wrestled with the problem. It is the image of walking the path of righteousness and faithfulness, but stumbling over rocks in the path. (2)

The root of the psalmist’s problem was envy. (3) He was concerned with the question of why the wicked prospered when he, a man committed to God, did not. By implication, he is also a questioning God’s character here: if wickedness prospers, is God just? 

Description of the Wicked


In these verses, the psalmist described the wicked people of his day:



at ease, getting even more wealthy

not suffering any “pangs”; not in trouble or stricken; during their lifetime


violent, malicious, threatening oppression

talking against God

Because of the success and arrogance of the wicked, some of God’s people turned away from God and to these wicked people. God’s people saw nothing wrong with them. (10)

Many idolized the rich & famous. We see in our time the same thing, and that promising health & wealth sells. 

In arrogance, the wicked questioned God’s omniscient knowledge: can God know everything they think and do?  (11) We know from the Bible that God is omniscient. He knows himself and all things that have been, are now, and will be in the future. But, those who had seemed to get away with being wicked thought they had escaped God’s knowledge.

All these things lead the psalmist to question the value of his purity (clean heart) and innocence (as opposed to wickedness) because he suffered

because he was stricken & rebuked. (13)

We have all been in this situation!

Faith Triumphs


Despite his envy and doubts, the psalmist kept silent to avoid sowing doubt in those who were pure in heart. (15) This shows that he had not given up his faith. He moved from self interest & self pity to his responsibility to protect others.  

But, he found thinking of the problem to be tiring (16) until he turned to God, entering His presence in the temple. Then, he discerned the end\destiny of the wicked. (17)

The destiny of the wicked is destruction. It may occur in their lifetime. They may fall into ruin. (18) It can happen quickly. (19) Remember the parable of the rich fool. (Luke 12:16-21) He celebrated his wealth and vowed to take it easy and party, then found out he would die that very night. 

The destruction of the wicked will definitely occur at the judgment. They shall perish. (27) God will put an end to them. They will experience “shame and everlasting contempt”. (Daniel 12:2)

The psalmist recognized his own bad attitude; it was bitterness. (21) It had led him to confusion & ignorance (22) He came to realize this and to recognize that, despite hiss troubled thinking, God continued with him, supported him, and guided him. (23-24)


The psalmist knew God would receive him to glory. As another psalm said, “God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.” (Psalm 49:15)

It was good for the psalmist to be in the Lord’s presence, making God his refuge ( a safe place). (28)when he relies on God, not comparing his life to others, he can tell of God’s works as God takes care of him (29) 

So, the psalmist realized that his relationship with God was what mattered

his own strength might fail, but God would be his strength (25)


  1. There will be times you struggle to understand things.
  2. Believers begin their analysis of problems with the belief that God is good and just.
  3. You will do better when you run toward God than away.
  4. God will deal with wickedness in his own time.
  5. Our responsibility is to live righteously and in faith, trusting the Sovereign God.