This is a special song that Asaph wrote.
A prayer for our nation
74:1In 586 BC, the army of Babylon destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar was King of Babylon. The writer of this psalm asks God why he has let this happen to his people, the Israelites.
1 God, have you turned against us for ever?
Why are you so angry with us?
We belong to you, so please take care of us,
like a shepherd takes care of his sheep.
2 Remember that we are your people.
Long ago you chose us for yourself.
You rescued us from being slaves,
so that we could be your special nation of people.
74:2This is when God led the Israelites out of Egypt where they had been slaves.
So please think about us,
as well as your home on Mount Zion.
3 Come and look at our buildings!
Your enemies have completely destroyed them.
They have also destroyed everything that is in your temple.
4 Your enemies shout battle cries
inside your special meeting place.
They have put up their own flags there.
5 They used axes to cut the temple into pieces,
like people who cut down trees!
6 They used their hammers and axes
to break the wooden boards with pictures on them.
7 They completely burned your temple.
They knocked it down to the ground!
They caused your special place to become useless!
8 They said to themselves,
‘We will completely destroy them all.’
So they burned down every place in the land
where people meet to worship God.
9 We no longer see any signs that God is with us.
There are no more prophets among us.
Nobody can tell us how long this will continue.
10 God, how long will our enemies laugh at you?
Will they insult your name for ever?
11 Why do you do nothing to help us?
Use your power now to punish them!
12 God, you have been my king from the beginning.
You have done great things to rescue us
all over the earth.
13 You broke the sea into separate pieces,
because you are so strong.
74:13These verses (13-15) may describe the time when God made the world and everything in it. Or they may describe how God took his people out of Egypt. He led them across the Red Sea on dry land, and he gave them water and food in the desert.
You broke the heads of the monsters
in the waters of the sea.
74:13When God broke the heads of the monsters in the water, that may describe when the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea.
14 You broke the heads of Leviathan.
74:14Leviathan is the old name of a sea-monster.
You gave his body as food
for the animals that live in the desert.
15 You caused springs and streams of water to appear.
And you made large rivers become dry!
74:15God made the Jordan river become dry so that his people could walk across into Canaan.
16 Days and nights both belong to you.
You put the moon and the sun in their places.
17 You said where the land must be among the seas.
You made both summer and winter.
74:17These verses describe the time when God made the universe. See Genesis 1:1-31.
18 Lord, think about your enemies.
They are always laughing at you.
Foolish people are insulting your name.
19 We, your people, are like your own special dove.
Do not let wild animals destroy us!
We are weak and poor,
so do not forget about us!
20 Remember what you have promised to do for us.
There are dark places everywhere,
where cruel people hide.
21 We are weak, and people want to hurt us.
Do not let us become ashamed.
Instead, let the poor, weak people praise your name!
22 Do something, God!
Show everyone that you are good.
Think how fools are laughing at you all the time.
23 Do not forget what your enemies are saying.
They shout things against you all the time!