Psalm 73-83

BOOK III

Psalms 73–89

Psalm 73

A psalm of Asaph.

Surely God is good to Israel,
    to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
    I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no struggles;
    their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from common human burdens;
    they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
    they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
    their evil imaginations have no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
    with arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
    and their tongues take possession of the earth.
Therefore their people turn to them
    and drink up waters in abundance.
They say, “How would God know?
    Does the Most High know anything?”

This is what the wicked are like—
    always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    and have washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been afflicted,
    and every morning brings new punishments.

If I had spoken out like that,
    I would have betrayed your children.
When I tried to understand all this,
    it troubled me deeply
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
    then I understood their final destiny.

Surely you place them on slippery ground;
    you cast them down to ruin.
How suddenly are they destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors!
They are like a dream when one awakes;
    when you arise, Lord,
    you will despise them as fantasies.

When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.

Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

Those who are far from you will perish;
    you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds.

Psalm 74

A maskil of Asaph.

O God, why have you rejected us forever?
    Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember the nation you purchased long ago,
    the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed—
    Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
    all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.

Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;
    they set up their standards as signs.
They behaved like men wielding axes
    to cut through a thicket of trees.
They smashed all the carved paneling
    with their axes and hatchets.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
    they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”
    They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.

We are given no signs from God;
    no prophets are left,
    and none of us knows how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, God?
    Will the foe revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
    Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!

But God is my King from long ago;
    he brings salvation on the earth.

It was you who split open the sea by your power;
    you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
    and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.
It was you who opened up springs and streams;
    you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.
The day is yours, and yours also the night;
    you established the sun and moon.
It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
    you made both summer and winter.

Remember how the enemy has mocked you, Lord,
    how foolish people have reviled your name.
Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
    do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.
Have regard for your covenant,
    because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.
Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace;
    may the poor and needy praise your name.
Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
    remember how fools mock you all day long.
Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries,
    the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.

Psalm 75

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song.

We praise you, God,
    we praise you, for your Name is near;
    people tell of your wonderful deeds.

You say, “I choose the appointed time;
    it is I who judge with equity.
When the earth and all its people quake,
    it is I who hold its pillars firm.
To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’
    and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.
Do not lift your horns against heaven;
    do not speak so defiantly.’”

No one from the east or the west
    or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges:
    He brings one down, he exalts another.
In the hand of the Lord is a cup
    full of foaming wine mixed with spices;
he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth
    drink it down to its very dregs.

As for me, I will declare this forever;
    I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,
who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked,
    but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”

Psalm 76

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.

God is renowned in Judah;
    in Israel his name is great.
His tent is in Salem,
    his dwelling place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows,
    the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.

You are radiant with light,
    more majestic than mountains rich with game.
The valiant lie plundered,
    they sleep their last sleep;
not one of the warriors
    can lift his hands.
At your rebuke, God of Jacob,
    both horse and chariot lie still.

It is you alone who are to be feared.
    Who can stand before you when you are angry?
From heaven you pronounced judgment,
    and the land feared and was quiet—
when you, God, rose up to judge,
    to save all the afflicted of the land.
Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise,
    and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.

Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them;
    let all the neighboring lands
    bring gifts to the One to be feared.
He breaks the spirit of rulers;
    he is feared by the kings of the earth.

Psalm 77

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.

I cried out to God for help;
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
    I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
    I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
    the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
    My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

“Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

The waters saw you, God,
    the waters saw you and writhed;
    the very depths were convulsed.
The clouds poured down water,
    the heavens resounded with thunder;
    your arrows flashed back and forth.
Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
    your lightning lit up the world;
    the earth trembled and quaked.
Your path led through the sea,
    your way through the mighty waters,
    though your footprints were not seen.

You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 78

A maskil of Asaph.

My people, hear my teaching;
    listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
    things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands.
They would not be like their ancestors—
    a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
    whose spirits were not faithful to him.

The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows,
    turned back on the day of battle;
they did not keep God’s covenant
    and refused to live by his law.
They forgot what he had done,
    the wonders he had shown them.
He did miracles in the sight of their ancestors
    in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
He divided the sea and led them through;
    he made the water stand up like a wall.
He guided them with the cloud by day
    and with light from the fire all night.
He split the rocks in the wilderness
    and gave them water as abundant as the seas;
he brought streams out of a rocky crag
    and made water flow down like rivers.

But they continued to sin against him,
    rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High.
They willfully put God to the test
    by demanding the food they craved.
They spoke against God;
    they said, “Can God really
    spread a table in the wilderness?
True, he struck the rock,
    and water gushed out,
    streams flowed abundantly,
but can he also give us bread?
    Can he supply meat for his people?”
When the Lord heard them, he was furious;
    his fire broke out against Jacob,
    and his wrath rose against Israel,
for they did not believe in God
    or trust in his deliverance.
Yet he gave a command to the skies above
    and opened the doors of the heavens;
he rained down manna for the people to eat,
    he gave them the grain of heaven.
Human beings ate the bread of angels;
    he sent them all the food they could eat.
He let loose the east wind from the heavens
    and by his power made the south wind blow.
He rained meat down on them like dust,
    birds like sand on the seashore.
He made them come down inside their camp,
    all around their tents.
They ate till they were gorged—
    he had given them what they craved.
But before they turned from what they craved,
    even while the food was still in their mouths,
God’s anger rose against them;
    he put to death the sturdiest among them,
    cutting down the young men of Israel.

In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;
    in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.
So he ended their days in futility
    and their years in terror.
Whenever God slew them, they would seek him;
    they eagerly turned to him again.
They remembered that God was their Rock,
    that God Most High was their Redeemer.
But then they would flatter him with their mouths,
    lying to him with their tongues;
their hearts were not loyal to him,
    they were not faithful to his covenant.
Yet he was merciful;
    he forgave their iniquities
    and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
    and did not stir up his full wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh,
    a passing breeze that does not return.

How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
    and grieved him in the wasteland!
Again and again they put God to the test;
    they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
They did not remember his power—
    the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,
the day he displayed his signs in Egypt,
    his wonders in the region of Zoan.
He turned their river into blood;
    they could not drink from their streams.
He sent swarms of flies that devoured them,
    and frogs that devastated them.
He gave their crops to the grasshopper,
    their produce to the locust.
He destroyed their vines with hail
    and their sycamore-figs with sleet.
He gave over their cattle to the hail,
    their livestock to bolts of lightning.
He unleashed against them his hot anger,
    his wrath, indignation and hostility—
    a band of destroying angels.
He prepared a path for his anger;
    he did not spare them from death
    but gave them over to the plague.
He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt,
    the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham.
But he brought his people out like a flock;
    he led them like sheep through the wilderness.
He guided them safely, so they were unafraid;
    but the sea engulfed their enemies.
And so he brought them to the border of his holy land,
    to the hill country his right hand had taken.
He drove out nations before them
    and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance;
    he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.

But they put God to the test
    and rebelled against the Most High;
    they did not keep his statutes.
Like their ancestors they were disloyal and faithless,
    as unreliable as a faulty bow.
They angered him with their high places;
    they aroused his jealousy with their idols.
When God heard them, he was furious;
    he rejected Israel completely.
He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh,
    the tent he had set up among humans.
He sent the ark of his might into captivity,
    his splendor into the hands of the enemy.
He gave his people over to the sword;
    he was furious with his inheritance.
Fire consumed their young men,
    and their young women had no wedding songs;
their priests were put to the sword,
    and their widows could not weep.

Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
    as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
He beat back his enemies;
    he put them to everlasting shame.
Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
    he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
but he chose the tribe of Judah,
    Mount Zion, which he loved.
He built his sanctuary like the heights,
    like the earth that he established forever.
He chose David his servant
    and took him from the sheep pens;
from tending the sheep he brought him
    to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
    of Israel his inheritance.
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
    with skillful hands he led them.

Psalm 79

A psalm of Asaph.

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance;
    they have defiled your holy temple,
    they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
They have left the dead bodies of your servants
    as food for the birds of the sky,
    the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
They have poured out blood like water
    all around Jerusalem,
    and there is no one to bury the dead.
We are objects of contempt to our neighbors,
    of scorn and derision to those around us.

How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever?
    How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out your wrath on the nations
    that do not acknowledge you,
on the kingdoms
    that do not call on your name;
for they have devoured Jacob
    and devastated his homeland.

Do not hold against us the sins of past generations;
    may your mercy come quickly to meet us,
    for we are in desperate need.
Help us, God our Savior,
    for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
    for your name’s sake.
Why should the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”

Before our eyes, make known among the nations
    that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants.
May the groans of the prisoners come before you;
    with your strong arm preserve those condemned to die.
Pay back into the laps of our neighbors seven times
    the contempt they have hurled at you, Lord.
Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
    will praise you forever;
from generation to generation
    we will proclaim your praise.

Psalm 80

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lilies of the Covenant.” Of Asaph. A psalm.

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
    shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
    come and save us.

Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

How long, Lord God Almighty,
    will your anger smolder
    against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
    you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors,
    and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it,
    and it took root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
    the mighty cedars with its branches.
Its branches reached as far as the Sea,
    its shoots as far as the River.

Why have you broken down its walls
    so that all who pass by pick its grapes?
Boars from the forest ravage it,
    and insects from the fields feed on it.
Return to us, God Almighty!
    Look down from heaven and see!
Watch over this vine,
    the root your right hand has planted,
    the son you have raised up for yourself.

Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire;
    at your rebuke your people perish.
Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
    the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
Then we will not turn away from you;
    revive us, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, Lord God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

Psalm 81

For the director of music. According to gittith. Of Asaph.

Sing for joy to God our strength;
    shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
    play the melodious harp and lyre.

Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
    and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
this is a decree for Israel,
    an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
When God went out against Egypt,
    he established it as a statute for Joseph.

I heard an unknown voice say:

“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
    their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
    I answered you out of a thundercloud;
    I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
    if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
    you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

“But my people would not listen to me;
    Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
    to follow their own devices.

“If my people would only listen to me,
    if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
    and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
    and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
    with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Psalm 82

A psalm of Asaph.

God presides in the great assembly;
    he renders judgment among the “gods”:

“How long will you defend the unjust
    and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
    uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

“The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
    They walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

“I said, ‘You are “gods”;
    you are all sons of the Most High.’
But you will die like mere mortals;
    you will fall like every other ruler.”

Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
    for all the nations are your inheritance.

Psalm 83

A song. A psalm of Asaph.

O God, do not remain silent;
    do not turn a deaf ear,
    do not stand aloof, O God.
See how your enemies growl,
    how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people;
    they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
    so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

With one mind they plot together;
    they form an alliance against you—
the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
    of Moab and the Hagrites,
Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
    Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
Even Assyria has joined them
    to reinforce Lot’s descendants.

Do to them as you did to Midian,
    as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
who perished at Endor
    and became like dung on the ground.
Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
    all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
who said, “Let us take possession
    of the pasturelands of God.”

Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
so pursue them with your tempest
    and terrify them with your storm.
Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
    so that they will seek your name.

May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

Read More of Psalm 73