Psalm 74 is a Psalm written by Asaph; This Psalm is quite a dark dreary passage, as Asaph is describing the condition of the land in which he is living in. In Asaph’s time of need he asks God not to forget his promises to his people, as he sums up the state of the land in v20 “Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.”
When I read this passage 4 years ago as a 1 year old Christian. I could not imagine such a land, but over these four years I cannot fail but see it with my own eyes all around me. This is a cruel cruel world! I sympathize with Christians sometimes who….just can’t go on. They are trying to do what’s right, they are trying to do the will of God, but it seems the world is at constant odds with them.
The antagonism is overwhelming, we can be as Asaph was in asking God “where are you” v1 “O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?”
Asaph continues on to say in v10 “O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?”
in v7 Asaph explains how the enemies of God have infiltrated the very house of God “They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling place of thy name to the ground.”
You can easily see why Asaph would think that God had forgotten them; in his desperation he asks God to “respect the covenant“, to respect the promises he made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Asaph was reacting according to what he was seeing around him! Had God forgotten them? Of course not! God has always been near, and as he was with Asaph during his darkest times, he will be with us today through our darkest times.
Asaph begins to encourage himself from verses 12 to 19 of Psalm 74.
He starts off by acknowledging who God is in v12 ”For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”
then proceeds to state the power of God
v14 “Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.“
v15 “Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers.”
He then concludes by asking God to intervene against the ungodly.
v18 “Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O LORD, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.”
again in v22 “Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily“
Asaph begins to understand and see that God is in control even in such dark times. It does not matter how much our habitations around us be be inhabited by cruel people, God will show himself strong to his people. Asaph describes a situation that is not foreign to us today. In fact we are probably in a worse state than in Asaph’s day.
I hope this devotion might stir in us the need to know that even if we live in the darkest places of this world, with no light, and no knowledge of God amongst the people around us….we can have hope in God who is always near. Asaph might have felt God was far from him at the start of the Psalm 74, but towards the end he realises that God has always been close by and he has kept his promises, and always will respect the promises he has made. I pray that we may know this as well in our times of desperation and need. Our God is a covenant-keeping God.