Exalting & Bringing Low: Chapter 75
In my personal prayer life, I cannot bring myself to start any other way than to praise Him. And thank Him. Even for just another day of breath! Sometimes I get stuck there for a while, and I don’t think He minds one bit.
I love the Psalms that start that way, like this one. But then Asaph gets right down to brass tacks.
Getting to the Meat of the Matter
A Psalm about judgment, pure and simple, Psalm 75 really says more than it looks like. For instance, verse 2 tells us that when God “receives the congregation,” He will “judge uprightly.” Once the earth and everything IN IT is gone, God will still be managing to hold it up.
God has offered some fundamental commandments. He has said not to deal foolishly… and that is undoubtedly a lengthy topic if we were to drag it out! He said not to speak with a stiff neck as well.
We can see, from the pages of the Old Testament, that God’s people didn’t always follow the “rules” that God laid out. Sometimes that lack of obedience was outright, and other times, they skirted the edges with sheer cunning.
Just take the Pharisees, for example. Boasting and puffed up in their loyalty, they were often reprimanded by Jesus for being the liars and manipulators that they really were. Yet, I have no doubt that they really and truly thought they were right!
Religion, Not Relationship
The problem with the Pharisees – and countless others, no doubt – was that they no longer had relationship with the Living God. They had only religion. And when there is only religion, there can be no real hearing.
For all that God had instructed His people NOT to do, they had lost the relationship that made it feel real. He said not to do “thus and so,” so to speak, but apparently, that didn’t sit well with them at all.
God reminds that promotion doesn’t come from the East, West, or South, but that it is God that promotes or demotes.
In order to bring back the relationship, God laid aside deity and entered the world in human form. He reached out. He loved, cried, got angry, worked, ministered, served, and then when His time was fully come, He preached the Gospel.
Yes, the same Gospel that had been ongoing since the beginning of time. He preached relationship again and called out the ones who would be judged if they did not repent of their evil ways. The wicked would be cut off. And the righteous exalted.
We Should Know of God’s Greatness: Chapter 76
There are specifics in this Scripture that most speak of when this chapter is studied. The defeat of Sennacherib, for example. It’s true, no doubt, as Asaph was not only a well-known figure during David’s time, but he was also a musical prophet. And you can see that prophetic influence here.
More importantly, we worship a God that is known. The Athenians, according to Acts 17:23, worshiped an “unknown God” and this can be viewed as a direct contrast to that. And He’s not just a God that is known “here” or “there”. This One True God, the God of Jacob, is the God of all the earth, even holding up the pillars of it, as we just read in Psalm 75.
A God of War…or Not?
Often considered a “fighting Psalm,” Psalm 76 has been a favorite of many in times of warfare. Especially warfare of a spiritual kind. When the Huguenots entered Coligny, they sang this Psalm. Thanksgiving services that came after the Spanish Armada defeat in 1588 included the singing of Psalm 76. It was sung again when The Covenanters sang it while defeating government troops in Drumclog in 1679.
But really, doesn’t this Psalm speak to something more than war? Just look at Psalm 76:4…
Thou are more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey.Psalm 76:4
At God’s rebuke, both chariots and horses were cast into “dead sleep”. Strong’s defines this “dead sleep” as a kind of heavy, unconsciousness that stupefied. It’s likened to the Greek word that means “to snore” and the Latin word “dormio” which means to sleep heavily.
Judgment from Heaven
When judgment is heard from heaven, verse 8 says, the earth feared and was still. This is when true repentance takes place. When God’s judgment is realized, when it is truly understood for what it is, then and only then do people start to realize what it’s even there for.
Verse 9 shows that when God “arises to judgment” it is “to save all the meek of the earth.” Who are the meek? Strong’s defines it as “needy, weak, or afflicted.” Other topical references say “depressed, miserable” or those who will put up with injuries rather than to injure another.
Does that mean those that aren’t meek won’t be able to repent? Well, I don’t think so. Verse 10 goes on to say that “the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”
When I read that, I think about this verse…
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.Matthew 11:12
The Bottom Line
The Psalm ends with a most important thought. Above any other, as far as I can tell.
Praise God. Offer Him presents. No, not like birthday presents. This word, in Hebrew, alludes to gifts offered in respect or honor. In other words, give Him what He is due!
Because He will cut off the spirit of princes. And he is terrible to the kings of the earth. Might and power do not impress Him. Violence and force do not impress Him.
If we have heard from heaven, we should fear and be still. Repent, as our King rises to judgment. Glory to God!
What stands out to you in these passages? To me, it just really comes back around to Jesus. The idea of warring or not warring, the idea of repentance in the face of impending judgment. I mean, now more than ever, we are faced with the idea of death and sickness, the end of days in the flesh. Some are calling doomsday prophesies while others are condemning the church for the very faith that Jesus points us to in the first place!
Yes, it’s a disastrous time, just as it was in the day these Psalm were written. Thank God, thank God, that we serve the One who holds up the very stuff of earth, Amen?
Lord Jesus, help us to be mindful, in these trying times, that we are not the first to feel the press of the wicked. But, just as Asaph did, let us remember to call out to You and You alone when times feel harder than what is comfortable. Let us have the hope that You hear from Heaven and You will answer. Draw our minds towards the salvation in Your Name and in Your purpose. Remind us that there is You, and none other, O God, and help us to be light in this ever-present darkness. We ask it all in Your precious Name, Jesus. Amen.