Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Daily Bible Reading:
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants
to the birds of the air for food,
the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbors,
mocked and derided by those around us.
How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealous wrath burn like fire?
Pour out your anger on the nations
that do not know you,
and on the kingdoms
that do not call on your name.
For they have devoured Jacob
and laid waste his habitation.
Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
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?"
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
be known among the nations before our eyes.
Let the groans of the prisoners come before you;
according to your great power preserve those doomed to die.
Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors
the taunts with which they taunted you, O Lord!
Then we your people, the flock of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
from generation to generation we will recount your
Comments: Psalm 79 sounds as though it was written by those who were not carried off into slavery following the Babylonian invasion in 58b BCE. It tells of Jerusalem in ruins. The song of the psalmist does not deny the sinfulness that led to the punishment of Israel. The psalmist merely promises that the people will continue to be steadfast in its praise. This is not a personal prayer. It is the plea for a nation that is in total disarray. They no longer have a center for their lives. God alone must be the center.
I appreciate the honesty of this psalm. There is no trying to hide past sins. There is no equivocating, but merely the plea, “how long, O Lord?”. God is never angry forever at our sinfulness. It is our return and constant prayer that reminds us that the relationship with God is what makes life full and whole despite the destruction around