Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Psalms 74-76

Psa 74.1-23 is a psalm by Asaph that gives insight into the afflictions that would befall Israel and the Kahal later on in time. It will also allude to the birth-pains and the False Messiah. The heading reads, “A Maskil (instruction) of Asaph (to gather).” Some believe that this psalm was written after the Babylonians destroyed the Temple, and others believe it was written after the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes. If that is true, Asaph here is not the musician of David and Solomon’s era. On the other hand, there are others who believe that the Asaph here is the one who lived at the time of David and Solomon (1 Chr 25.1-2; 2 Chr 29.30).

Psa 74.1-2 is a plea for God to remember Israel. He lived during the time of David and Solomon and knew first hand times of peace, but he also knew about times of affliction in dealing with the enemies of Israel. It was during those times that it seemed that God had “rejected” Israel, the people he redeemed from Egypt and purchased going back to the time of Abraham.

Psa 74 3-7 seems to be referring to the destruction of the Temple. Asaph wants God to run to their aid toward the “perpetual ruins” and he could be referring to the Mishkan in Shiloh or speaking prophetically about the destruction of the Temple, or God’s “spiritual” Temple Israel. The enemy has damaged the sanctuary and that has been done many times in history (v 3). The enemy has roared in the midst of “thy meeting place” and have set up false idolatrous practices. They destroyed the Temple with the violence of woodmen cutting down a tree in that way they used their axes (v 4-5). They break down “all its carved work” (1 Kings 6.18) with a hatchet (v 6). They burned the sanctuary with intent (2 Kings 25.9) and defiled the dwelling place of God’s name Yehovah (v 7).

Psa 74.8-11 tells us they said in their hearts “let us subdue them” with cruelty and burned all the places where Israel assembled (v 8). Regular worship has stopped and there are no prophets who can tell us how long the persecution will last (v 9). With no sign of imminent redemption they ask “How long will the enemy revile, and the enemy blaspheme they name?” The enemy has rejected the full revelation of who Yehovah is (v 10). How long will God withhold his “right hand” (his power) in his bosom (hidden away). Asaph pleads for the destruction of the enemy.

Psa 74.12-18 is a reading for Yom Kippur, a Yom Ha Din. In spite of all of the afflictions, God is still king and works deliverance in all the land (v 12). He divided the sea (Red Sea) so that Israel could cross and he broke the “heads” (Pharaoh and his leading princes) of the sea monsters (allies) in the waters (v 13). He crushed the heads (plural) of Leviathan (a name for Pharaoh and the False Messiah in Jewish eschatology-Gen 3.15; Hab 3.13; Rev 13.1) and gave him as food for the creatures in the wilderness (Ezek 29.2-7; 32.2-8; Rev 19.20-21). This “feast” is called the “Feast of Leviathan” and it is related to what happens to the Azazel goat on Yom Kippur (v 14). Yeshua will return to Jerusalem on Yom Kippur to destroy the False Messiah and establish his kingdom on earth (Matt 24.29-31). He brought water out of the rock for Israel to drink (Exo 17.5; Num 20.11) and dried up the Jordan so that Israel could cross in Josh 3.13 (v 15). He has control over the fixed order of nature (v 16). He has established all the boundaries of the nations and has created the seasons (v 17).

Psa 74.18-21 tells us that God is in control and is master over all the natural forces, so remember how the enemy has rejected your sovereignty and reviled us and rejected all this (v 18). Do not deliver the life of “thy turtledove” (Israel-Song 2.14) to the “wild beast” (the enemies of Israel) and do not forget the life of thine afflicted (v 19). Consider the covenant (at Sinai) because the dark places (dangerous) are full of cruel people and they are vulnerable (v 20). Do not refuse to help the oppressed and dishonored for trusting in you, but let the afflicted and needy thank you for their deliverance (v 21).

Psa 74.22-23 says arise and “plead thine own cause” meaning God’s cause is his people and his covenant with them. Remember how the “degenerate man” reproaches you all day long. The Targum (Aramaic paraphrase) says, “The foolish king” and it alludes to the False Messiah (v 22). He concludes by asking God not to forget the voice of their tormentors who rise to eradicate God’s presence and worldwide influence, and so will the False Messiah (v 23).

Psa 75.1-10 may be a continuation of Psa 74 and it tells us about the judgment of God upon the wicked and proud sinners and this is a source of praise for the righteous. It also alludes to the False Messiah and how the Lord will not let him corrupt the earth with idolatry and false doctrine (Rev 11.18. Israel will be in anguish and it will intensify as the Second Redemption draws near. They will be terrified and trampled but they will return to Yehovah (Hos 5.15). The heading reads, “For the Conductor, Al-tashet. A Psalm by Asaph, with musical accompaniment.” Al-tashet means “do not destroy” (Israel).

Psa 75.1-5 begins with a repetition of the phrase “unto thee do we give thanks” because it emphasizes the attitude of the Kahal to bless Yehovah. God’s name and word are declared by everyone everywhere (v 1). Yehovah says when he selects the appointed time (moed or festival) “it is I who will judge with equity.” These words indicate it is Yom Ha Din and there are only two days in the year that are called a Yom Ha Din, Yom Teruah (Rosh Ha Shanah) and Yom Kippur (v 2). The earth and all the inhabitants thereof will “melt” (come apart) with fear (Exo 15.15-16; Zech 14.12; 2 Pet 3.12). It is the Lord who has finally set its pillars and established it, and will perpetuate it (v 3). He tells the boastful not to boast, and to the wicked he says not to lift up their “horn” or power (v 4). Yehovah tells them not to lift up their horn against the righteous and not to speak with insolent pride. This will be the problem with the False Messiah in Job 41.34 (v 5).

Psa 75.5-8 says that success does not come from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert (south). The north is omitted here because that is the direction of the dwelling of God (Isa 14.13). Men will comb the earth for gold and riches but it is not their effort that but God who blesses (Matt 6.24). Here is some insight into this. Property is called “Nichashim” because they “nich sim” or “vanish and disappear” from one owner to the next. Coins are called “Zuzim” because they “zazim” (move away) from one to another. Funds are called “mammon” because we ask their possessor to “man’neh” (count) it before its gone. Pieces of currency are called “ma’ot” because we wonder (Mah’l’et) what is the value of something which last only a short time (v 6). But Yehovah is the judge (in the north) and he puts down one and exalts another (v 7). The Jewish concept on this says that since creation God has been making “ladders” to raise one man above another (John 1.51). There is a cup in the hand of Yehovah and the wine foams (strong) and it is well mixed (full measure-Rev 14.10) and he pours out of this his judgment. The wicked of the earth must drink and drain the dregs (swallow the bitter punishment) until God is finished with his judgment (v 8).

Psa 75.9-10 tells us that a praise is taken up again and the writer will praise Yehovah and declare the power of God’s vengeance (v 9). God responds by cutting off the horns (power) of the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up in victory. God gives the assurance that salvation is imminent (v 10).

Psa 76.1-2 seems to be written after the Assyrians were defeated during the reign of Hezekiah. That would make it a prophecy of the war of Gog and Magog in Ezek 38-39. Some believe this to be true for several reasons. The Septuagint (LXX) entitles this psalm as “AN Ode to the Assyrians.” This is backed up by the Latin Vulgate and the Ethiopic versions. Psa 76.3 seems to indicate that God broke the arrows of the bow and we know that not one arrow was shot into Jerusalem when Assyria laid siege to it (2 Kings 19.22). Psa 76.5 says that the “stout-hearted were plundered and they sank into sleep (death); and none of the warriors could use his hands.” No enemy fell at or near Jerusalem in the time of David and Solomon. That means the author Asaph may have lived at a later date than David and Solomon, or Asaph prophesied about the defeat of the Assyrians because he was a prophet in many of his writings (1 Chr 25.1; 2 Chr 29.30).

If prophetic, it not only talks about the Assyrians, but it also alludes to Gog and Magog (Russia) in the Day of the Lord. We know that the war of Gog and Magog will happen at the end of the third year of the birth-pains and the beginning of the fourth year, around Yom Kippur and Sukkot, so this psalm has been a Sukkot reading and the Song of the Day for Tishri 15, the first day of Sukkot. The third possibility is Asaph is a descendant of the Asaph in David and Solomon’s time and wrote this at a later time. The heading reads, “For the Conductor; on Neginot (stringed instruments used in the Temple), a Psalm of Asaph; a song.”

Psa 76.1-3 says that God is known in Judah (the Temple was there) and his name has been made known by Israel (v 1). His abode (sukkah) was in Salem (Jerusalem) and his dwelling place is in Zion (v 2). There he broke the flaming arrows, the shield, and the sword and the weapons of war (like when the Assyrians were defeated-2 Kings 19.32; Isa 37.33). This will also apply to the invasion of Gog and Magog (Russia) at the end of the third year of the birth-pains (v 3).

Psa 76 4-7 tells us that God is more “resplendent” (with light) and more majestic than the mountains of prey, or the lions, the invaders (v 4). The stouthearted (bereft of reason) were plundered and sank deep into sleep (death) and none of the warriors could use his hands to hold weapons (v 5). By the power of his word he rebukes the chariot (a mobile firing platform, like an ancient tank) and horse and the rider and horse were cast into a deep sleep, meaning “dead” (v 6). It is impossible for any man to stand before Yehovah, and nobody hostile to him will be able to carry out his plans unless Yehovah allows it, and he should be feared (v 7).

Psa 76.8-10 says that God caused his judgment (will) to be heard in the world from heaven and mankind was still (when the angel was sent from heaven and destroyed the Assyrians, when Yehovah arose to judgment to save the humble (like Hezekiah) of Israel (v 8-9). For the wrath of man (Asssyrians) shall turn in to a time of praise to Yehovah (v 10).

Psa 76.11-12 says that vows were made to Yehovah in times such as these, so they need to fulfill those vows, and let all the nations who gather in Israel to be closer to Yehovah bring their gifts of tribute and honor (v 11). He will “cut down” like the harvest of wine the arrogant spirit of the non-Jewish rulers (princes) and will take away the courage of the kings of the earth (Psa 2.5) and Yehovah will terrify them, like he did to the king of Assyria (v 12).

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Tying into the New Testament

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