Scripture reading – Psalm 76
Continuing our chronological study of the Scriptures, we take a detour from the prophecies of Isaiah to Psalm 76. This psalm is believed to have been penned on the occasion of the LORD delivering king Hezekiah, and Jerusalem from the Assyrian siege (2 Kings 18-19; Isaiah 37-38).
Psalm 76 is titled, “To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm or Song of Asaph.”
“Neginoth” was a stringed instrument. Thus, Psalm 76 was written by a son of the lineage of Asaph (a Levite musician who had been a contemporary of king David), and was to be accompanied on a string instrument. I invite you to consider three major components of the psalm.
A Song of Praise to God (76:1-6)
The psalmist reminded Judah and Israel how the LORD had chosen to dwell in their midst. We read, “1In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel” (76:1). The LORD had revealed Himself in the Scriptures, and His prophets had declared His Word to the people. His “name,” the sum of Who He is in His person and attributes, was “great in Israel” (76:1).
His “tabernacle” was in Salem (ancient Jerusalem), and He dwelt in Zion (76:2). This “tabernacle” was not the same word as the place where the Ark of the Covenant was placed during Israel’s wilderness wanderings. In fact, the tabernacle recorded in Psalm 76:2 is the word for a “lair,” a den or dwelling place of a lion. Remembering the setting of this psalm is the celebration that followed the angel of the LORD slaying 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, it’s appropriate the LORD would be described in the terms of a lion in its den, whose “dwelling place [was] in Zion” (76:2).
The LORD had slain the Assyrian soldiers in the night, and in the morning the citizens of Jerusalem awoke, and looked upon a battlefield strewn with broken “arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword” (76:3).
The words of the psalm break into praising the LORD, declaring He is “more glorious” (He is the illuminator, the giver of light), and “excellent” (majestic and powerful, 76:4). The LORD had “spoiled” (plundered) the valiant men of Assyria while they “slept their sleep” (for they had been slain in their sleep, 76:5)., and the “chariot and horse” had been “cast into a dead sleep,” and were destroyed in the night (76:6).
Fear and Revere the LORD (76:7-10)
No man can stand before the LORD when He is angry (76:7), and when the sound of His judgment was “heard from heaven,” all the earth feared, and was still” (76:8). Why did the LORD destroy the Assyrian army? Why did He drive king Sennacherib and his soldiers out of Judah to their land? I invite you to consider three reasons God intervened on behalf of His people.
The first, God is just, and He “arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth” (76:9). In the Scriptures, the “meek” are not a portrait of weakness, but of strength that is under control, harnessed, and reined in. The meek are strong because their faith is strong in the LORD! Of the meek, Christ declared, “they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Another reason the LORD destroyed soldiers of Assyria, was to turn “the wrath of man,” and give cause for His people to praise Him (76:10a). Finally, because the earth had heard the God of Judah had destroyed the army of Assyria, it served as a warning to others (especially the soldiers who survived the slaughter) to restrain their wrath, and refrain from evil (76:10b).
An Invitation to Renew Your Promises to the LORD (76:11-12)
Psalm 76 concludes with an invitation for God’s people to renew their faith and commitment to the LORD: “Vow, and pay unto the Lord your God: Let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared” (76:11). Notice three invitations recorded in verse 11: 1) Recommit your life to the LORD; 2) In gratitude, bring gifts and offerings of praise; 3) Fear and revere the LORD (76:11).
Closing thoughts – Our study concludes encouraging us to realize our God will “cut off the spirit of princes: He is terrible to the kings of the earth” (76:12). The LORD will break the spirit of evil men, and wicked leaders have reason to fear Him, because “He is terrible” and the mighty fall at His pleasure (76:12b).
Is there someone who terrifies or torments you? Do you feel overwhelmed, or afraid? Remember, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: But whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
If you love the LORD, and trust Him, you have no cause for worry or fear; for “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18a).
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith