“O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.” Psalm 79:1 (Read Psalm 79)
What happened in Judah and Jerusalem to move Asaph to pen the words of Psalm 79, in which he pleads with the LORD God for mercy upon God’s people and judgment upon their enemies? Could it happen here?
We learn from the Scriptures that Asaph was a musician and prophet who lived during the reigns of Kings David, Solomon and Rehoboam (cf. 1 Chron. 6:31ff.; 16:4ff.; 25:1ff.; 2 Chron. 29:30; Ezra 2:41) and wrote a number of the psalms (Psalms 50 and 73-83). He led the children of Israel in their worship of the LORD in Jerusalem. And, after witnessing the greatness of the kingdom of Israel under David, Asaph then began to see things come apart under the reigns of Solomon and Rehoboam.
We read in 1 Kings 14:21ff. that God’s people turned aside from following after the LORD and worshiped other gods. We also read that sodomites were in the land and the people lived according to the abominations of the nations that God had cast out of the land of Israel before them. 2 Chronicles 12:1-4 tell us: “And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him. And it came to pass, [that] in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the LORD, with twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people [were] without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians. And he took the fenced cities which [pertained] to Judah, and came to Jerusalem.”
When Rehoboam and the people humbled themselves before the LORD, God spared Jerusalem from utter desolation. But “Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made” (2 Chron. 12:9).
Thus, the prayer of Psalm 79 from a man of God and his petition: “O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake” (v. 8-9).
As we see our own nation turn from the LORD and serve other gods, as wickedness (including sodomy) increases, we can expect God’s judgment to fall upon our land – unless we heed God’s word: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). Only in Christ Jesus, the Son, is there pardon, forgiveness and life (Psalm 2). Let us humble ourselves and look to Him!
Have mercy upon us and our people, O LORD, for we have sinned and gone astray. Bring us to repent of our sins and look to You for mercy. Amen.
A Psalm of Asaph.
1 O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.
2 The dead bodies of thy servants have they given [to be] meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.
3 Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and [there was] none to bury [them].
4 We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.
5 How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.
7 For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.
8 O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.
10 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where [is] their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight [by] the revenging of the blood of thy servants [which is] shed.
11 Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;
12 And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.
13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
[Scripture Quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]