Have you ever questioned God in crisis? We all like Psalm 23. It’s comforting. It rolls off the tongue and warms the heart. It’s quoted on everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs. That’s not the case of psalms like Psalm 74. Who would put, “O God, why have you rejected us forever? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?” and “Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?” on a refrigerator magnet or computer screensaver? Yet, these were sincere questions Asaph asked the Lord concerning the temple’s destruction. Asaph was a worship leader in the temple in the reign of king David, and the destruction of the temple had affected his life and worship habits. Why would God allow such a thing to happen? After all, wasn’t He concerned with His temple?
Although Asaph seemed stunned as he described the temple’s destruction (vv. 3-8), this should not have been a surprise to him. The Lord warned His people about their sins through the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 7). He told Jeremiah to tell the people, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says. Reform your ways and actions, and I will let you live in this place. Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your ancestors. I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your fellow Israelites, the people of Ephraim” (Jer. 7:4, 14-15). He went on to list their sins of idolatry, murder, theft, adultery, oppression, and lying. Those who entered the temple to worship the Lord (Jeremiah 7:3) were doing these at the same time outside of the temple! We cannot expect God to bless His church when the church is sinning against Him outside the church house! We are deceived hypocrites if we think the Lord won’t remove His hand of provision and protection from us if we continue in sin and worship simultaneously (Psalm 74:11)!
Asaph did the right thing by asking questions and seeking the Lord even when judgment came. God gave warning, the people still disobeyed and sinned, the temple was destroyed, and the people were taken into captivity. But even then, it was still not too late to turn back to the Lord! Psalm 74:12 shows us in all of Asaph’s questions that he came to his senses and said, “Yet, God is my King from long ago. He brings salvation on the earth.” That “yet” was a defining moment of truth in Asaph’s life. In the middle of Psalm 74 and his crisis, Asaph regained focus on God. He recalled that the Lord was All-Powerful (vv. 13-15) and Creator of everything (vv. 16-17). It wasn’t the Lord’s fault the temple was destroyed as it was His sinful people’s fault! Asaph overcame discouragement in crisis by praising the Lord (vv. 13-17) and praying for people (vv. 18-22). Oh, how we also must overcome trying hardships through praise and prayer!
- Have you ever found yourself blaming the Lord for something He didn’t do?
- Do you honor the Lord for Who He is and what He does?
- How much do you utilize praise and prayer to overcome discouragement?
Lord, help me repent of my sins and not blame their consequences on You. Thank You for conviction from the Holy Spirit and warnings from Your Word. You are a good Father Who disciplines me out of love. Thank You for grace and restoration even though I have caused destruction and dishonor through my sins. You are a gracious and redemptive God. I will overcome the devil’s discouragement from my sin with praise and prayer to You, Almighty God. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.