For the *Glory of Your Name

Psalm 79

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 79

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

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For the *kingdom is always yours and the power is always yours and the *glory is always yours (Matthew 6:13). (The end of a special *prayer that Jesus taught us; a *kingdom is where a king rules; here, God is the King.)

Psalm 79

(This is) a psalm of *Asaph.

v1   God, countries that do not love you have attacked us.
  They have taken away your land.
  They have done bad things to your *holy *temple
  so that we cannot *worship you in it.
  They have destroyed Jerusalem.

v2   They have given the dead bodies of your people
  to the birds (that fly) in the air for food.
  They have given the bodies of your servants
  for wild animals to eat.

v3   They have poured out the blood (of your servants)
  *like water all round Jerusalem.
  There was nobody to bury your people.

v4   Our *neighbours just laugh at us.
  The people that live near us *scorn us.

v5   How long will this continue?
  (God), will you always be angry?
  Will your *jealousy burn *like a fire for ever?

v6   Be very angry with the countries that do not love you
  and the *nations that do not pray to you.

v7   Because they have beaten *Jacob
  and destroyed the land where he lived.

v8   Do not be angry with us
  because of the wrong things that our fathers did.
  Have *mercy on us soon.
  We have lost all our hope.

v9   God, give us help! (You are the God) that can save us.
  For the *glory of your name, save us.
  So that your name will always be famous, *forgive our *sins.

v10   Why should the countries that do not love God say,
  "Where is their God?"
  We want to see you become angry with these countries,
  because they poured out the blood of your servants.

v11   Listen to the *prisoners that are crying!
  By the power of your arm, save those that are going to die.

v12   *Lord, make the countries that do not love you
  have seven times as much trouble as we have had!
  Because they said bad things to you.

v13   Then we, your people (who are as) sheep in your field,
  will always thank you.
  So will our children and grandchildren.

The Story of Psalm 79

Something bad had happened to the *Jews. They had not obeyed God, so he let their enemies beat them. Bible students think that this happened 600 years before Jesus came to the earth. A country called Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and took many people away as *prisoners. Maybe this psalm is by one of the *prisoners. He asks God to do to the Babylonians what they had done to the *Jews, only worse. We call psalms like this "Psalms of Imprecation". You can read about them at the end of Psalm 69 in this series of psalms. Psalm 69 is in Book 2 of The Psalms of David.

The reason that he gives is this. If God does nothing, people will think that God is weak, or even that there is no God! That is why he says in verse 9 "For the *glory of your name, save us. So that your name will always be famous, *forgive us our *sins". And in verse 10 "Where is their God?"

"The countries that do not love God" in verses 1, 6, 10, 12 translates just one *Hebrew word, "countries" or "*nations". Here it means just Babylon, but it could mean any country that hurts Godís people.

What Psalm 79 means

Verse 1: The "bad things" include foreign soldiers going into the *temple. This meant that they had defiled it (made it dirty). That meant that *Jews could not use it. Also, the soldiers knocked the *temple down, so it could not be used anyway!

Verses 2 Ė 3: One of the worst things that you could do to your enemy was not to bury him when he was dead. That is what happened here. Instead, wild animals and birds ate the bodies.

Verse 4: The *neighbours are the countries near Judah. They included Edom. The book in the Bible, "Obadiah" tells us that the Edomites were very happy when Babylon destroyed Judah. Also, they took things that belonged to the *Jews, and did not let some of them run away from the Babylonians to a safe place.

Verse 5: *Jealousy is a special *anger. It is when you are angry because someone you love stops loving you and loves someone else. Or, when someone hurts someone that you love. Here it maybe means both. God is angry with the *Jews for not obeying him and with Babylon for hurting the *Jews.

Verse 7: *Jacob is another name for Judah or Israel. So "he lived" means "where the *Jews lived".

Verse 8: The *Jews had done wrong things for many years. Their fathers and their grandfathers (or their "*ancestors") had all done wrong things. They had not obeyed God. So God *punished them. This means he let the Babylonians hurt them, even kill many of them. So the *psalmist asks for *mercy. He asks God to be kind to them again. They had done wrong things but he still wants God to be kind to them.

Verse 9: The *psalmist asks God to save them and *forgive them. To Christians this means give our *sins to Jesus and take us to *heaven when we die. To the *psalmist it did not mean this. It meant "Give us back our land".

Verse 10: "Poured out the blood" means "killed".

Verse 11: The Babylonians took *prisoners to kill some of them. "The power of your arm" means God is showing his power on earth.

Verse 12: "seven times as much" means "a lot".

Verse 13: The *psalmist sees Godís people as a group ("*flock") of animals together in a field. The *Hebrew Bible says "*flock", not "sheep", but we have translated it "sheep" because Jesus said that he was "the good *Shepherd". A *shepherd keeps sheep.

Something to do

1.  Read about Psalms of Imprecation in Psalm 69 of this set.

2.  Read about *Asaph in Psalm 73 of this set.

3.  Pray for people that hurt you. Pray that they will learn about God.

Word List

Adonai ~ *Lord or master; (or better, my *Lord or my master) in *Hebrew.

ancestors ~ people years ago that your parents came from.

anger ~ what you feel when you are angry.

Asaph ~ look in the Introduction to the Psalms of David Book 3.

covenant ~ two people have agreed what each should do (here, God and his people). Look after Psalm 25 in Book 1 of the Psalms of David for more about the covenant.

flock ~ a group of animals such as sheep.

forgive ~ take away the results of *sin. (But look in the notes on Psalm 85:2).

glory ~ something that shines very much, maybe *heaven: God has glory because his *righteousness shines from inside him.

heaven ~ the home of God.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke when they wrote the Psalms of David.

holy ~ very, very good; only God is really *holy, the land where he lives with his people is also *holy because he is there.

Jacob ~ another name for Israel, both the people and the land. (Jacob was Abrahamís grandson).

jealousy ~ what you feel when you are jealous.

Jehovah ~ how some languages say *Yahweh, one of the names of God in *Hebrew.

Jew ~ someone who was born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

kingdom ~ the country that has a king.

like ~ another word for "as".

Lord ~ a name for God; it means he has authority, or "master"; *Adonai in *Hebrew. Look also at *LORD below.

LORD ~ a special name for God that his people use. It is the *covenant name of God. In *Hebrew it is *Yahweh or *Jehovah. Look after Psalm 25 in Book 1 of the Psalms of David for more about the names of God.

mercy ~ being kind when you do not have to be kind.

nations ~ countries.

neighbours ~ people that live near (either house or country).

prayer ~ words that you say when you pray.

prisoners ~ people caught and kept by the enemy.

psalmist ~ the person that wrote a psalm (or psalms).

punish ~ hurt someone because they have not obeyed the rules.

righteous ~ very good (only God is really righteous). God says that the people that love and obey him are righteous. Sometimes we say that they are "the righteous", meaning "righteous people". Look after Psalm 5 in Book 1 of The Psalms of David for more about the word "righteous".

righteousness ~ what you have when you are *righteous.

scorn ~ laugh in a bad way at someone.

shepherd ~ a sheep farmer.

sin ~ not obeying God, or what you do when you do not obey God.

temple ~ a place where people meet to *worship God.

worship ~ tell someone that they are very great and that you love them.

Yahweh ~ the *covenant name for God. Most Bibles translate it *LORD with 4 capital letters. It means something *like "I am" or "always alive".


© 2001-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

January 2002

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