Prayer in the Midst of Oppression.

A psalm of Asaph, similar in tone and content to Ps. 74, though any special event which might have occasioned the writing of this hymn is not known. V. 1. O God, the heathen are come into Thine inheritance, the Holy Land, including both the city of the Sanctuary and the Temple itself, Ex. 15, 17, being referred to; Thy holy Temple have they defiled, by introducing some form of heathen pollution; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps. The psalmist, in prophetic spirit, sees Jerusalem laid waste and the Temple a heap of ruins, an event which came to pass when the city was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. V. 2. The dead bodies of Thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the vultures feeding on the carcasses, the flesh of Thy saints unto the beasts of the earth, jackals and hyenas performing their gruesome work on the forsaken fields of battle. The description is typical of the desolation which has occasionally come upon the Church of Christ when the enemies have gained the upper hand. V. 3. Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem, considering it utterly worthless, not feeling a single twinge of conscience on account of their violence; and there was none to bury them, all inhabitants being either dead or in exile. V. 4. We are become a reproach to our neighbors, objects of jeering on account of their trust in Jehovah, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us, whose blasphemy really struck the name of God, deriding Him as powerless to help the city of His Sanctuary. In like manner the enemies of the Church have ever behaved in times of persecution. V. 5. How long, Lord? Wilt Thou be angry forever? Shall Thy jealousy burn like fire? His zeal in punishing His people for their sins. V. 6. Pour out Thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known Thee, who were willingly estranged from Him, hostile to His Church, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon Thy name, refusing to accept Jehovah as the only true God. V. 7. For they have devoured Jacob, the spiritual Israel, the Church of God suffering under the oppression of its enemies, and laid waste his dwelling-place. The enemies are purposely spoken of in the singular, in a collective sense; for no matter what form the enmity against Christ’s Church takes, it always has the same object. V. 8. O remember not against us former iniquities, those of the forefathers, this statement including a confession of guilt, of apostasy in the past; let Thy tender mercies speedily prevent us, coming to meet the believers, in order to bring them proper assistance with the greatest haste; for we are brought very low, they were unable, without the mercy of God, to rise from their defeat. V. 9. Help us, O God of our salvation, in whom alone the believers of all times place their hope of redemption, for the glory of Thy name, for the performance of His merciful promises would redound to His glory; and deliver us and purge away our sins for Thy name’s sake; for the granting of such remission always serves to set forth the most beautiful traits and attributes of God, His love, grace, and mercy. V. 10. Wherefore should the heathen, in taking note of the desolation of the Church, say, Where is their God? the doubt expressed in their derision being a form of blasphemy. Let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of Thy servants which is shed, that is, vengeance for the blood of the Lord’s servants, as shed by the enemies, should come upon them in the sight of the believers, so that these would have evidence of the fact that God will not be mocked. V. 11. Let the sighing of the prisoner, the moaning of those kept in captivity by the enemies, come before Thee; according to the greatness of Thy power, the arm of His omnipotence stretched out in behalf of His children, preserve Thou those that are appointed to die, literally, “the children of slaughter”; for death is thought of as having fatherly authority to the extent of putting men to death; v. 12. and render unto our neighbors, the enemies spoken of throughout, sevenfold into their bosom, in exhausting His judicial punishment upon them, in making them feel the severity of His anger, their reproach, wherewith they have reproached Thee, O Lord. Thus would the Lord save His honor, reestablish His position of honor and power before the world. V. 13. So we, Thy people and sheep of Thy pasture, who have submitted themselves absolutely to the guidance of their great Shepherd, trusting implicitly in His power for protection, will give Thee thanks forever; we will show forth Thy praise to all generations. The same trust in Jehovah, together with the attitude of perpetual praise must be found in all believers.