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Psalms 74:1-2

Context
Psalm 74 1 

A well-written song 2  by Asaph.

74:1 Why, O God, have you permanently rejected us? 3 

Why does your anger burn 4  against the sheep of your pasture?

74:2 Remember your people 5  whom you acquired in ancient times,

whom you rescued 6  so they could be your very own nation, 7 

as well as Mount Zion, where you dwell!

1 sn Psalm 74. The psalmist, who has just experienced the devastation of the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem in 586 b.c., asks God to consider Israel’s sufferings and intervene on behalf of his people. He describes the ruined temple, recalls God’s mighty deeds in the past, begs for mercy, and calls for judgment upon God’s enemies.

2 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. The word is derived from a verb meaning “to be prudent; to be wise.” Various options are: “a contemplative song,” “a song imparting moral wisdom,” or “a skillful [i.e., well-written] song.” The term occurs in the superscriptions of Pss 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89, and 142, as well as in Ps 47:7.

3 sn The psalmist does not really believe God has permanently rejected his people or he would not pray as he does in this psalm. But this initial question reflects his emotional response to what he sees and is overstated for the sake of emphasis. The severity of divine judgment gives the appearance that God has permanently abandoned his people.

4 tn Heb “smoke.” The picture is that of a fire that continues to smolder.

5 tn Heb “your assembly,” which pictures God’s people as an assembled community.

6 tn Heb “redeemed.” The verb “redeem” casts God in the role of a leader who protects members of his extended family in times of need and crisis (see Ps 19:14).

7 tn Heb “the tribe of your inheritance” (see Jer 10:16; 51:19).



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