Scripture reading – Psalm 76

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Continuing our chronological study of the Scriptures, we detour from the prophecies of Isaiah to Psalm 76. This psalm is believed to have been penned when the LORD delivered 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.”

 

The author of Psalm 76 was a son of the lineage of Asaph (a Levite musician who had been King David’s contemporary). Addressed to the chief musician, the psalm was composed to be accompanied “on Neginoth” (either a stringed instrument or music meant to be played on stringed instruments). I invite you to consider three major components of Psalm 76.

A Song of Praise to God (Psalm 76:1-6)

A Song of Praise to God (Psalm 76:1-6)

 

The psalmist reminded Judah and Israel how the LORD chose to dwell in their midst. We read, “1In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel” (Psalm 76:1). The LORD revealed Himself in the Scriptures, and His prophets declared His Word to the people. His “name,” meaning the sum of Who God is in His person and attributes, was “great in Israel” (Psalm 76:1).

His “tabernacle” was described as abiding in Salem (i.e., ancient Jerusalem), and He dwelt in Zion (Psalm 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. 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 the psalm is believed to have been the celebration that followed the angel of the LORD slaying 185,000 Assyrian soldiers; it was appropriate that the LORD was described in terms of a lion in its den, whose “dwelling place [was] in Zion” (Psalm 76:2).

The LORD had slain the Assyrian soldiers in the night. The following morning, the citizens of Jerusalem awoke and looked upon a battlefield strewn with broken “arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword” (Psalm 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, Psalm 76:4). The LORD had “spoiled” (plundered) the brave men of Assyria and they were slain in their sleep (Psalm 76:5). The “chariot and horse” was “cast into a dead sleep.” They were destroyed in the night (Psalm 76:6).

Fear and Revere the LORD (Psalm 76:7-10)

Fear and Revere the LORD (Psalm 76:7-10)

 

No man can stand before the LORD when He is angry (Psalm 76:7), and when the sound of His judgment was “heard from heaven,” all the earth feared, and was still” (Psalm 76:8). Why did the LORD destroy the Assyrian army? Why did He drive King Sennacherib and his soldiers out of Judah?

I suggest three reasons for the LORD’s intervention on His people’s behalf.

First, the LORD is just, and God’s justice is always right and good, even when we do not understand His purposes. The Scripture says the LORD “arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth” (Psalm 76:9). Why would the Lord save the meek? A “meek” person is not a portrait of weakness but of strength. Thus, a “meek” man or woman is strong. Their strength is channeled, under control, harnessed, and reined in. In other words, the meek are strong because their faith is strong in the LORD! Christ declared of the meek, “They shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

A second reason the LORD may have destroyed the Assyrian soldiers was to turn “the wrath of man” and give cause for His people to praise Him (76:10a). When God helps us defeat our enemies, we have cause to praise Him. Lastly, because other nations heard how the God of Judah destroyed the army of Assyria, it served as a warning for them to restrain their wrath and refrain from evil (Psalm 76:10b).

 

An Invitation to Renew Your Promises to the LORD (Psalm 76:11-12)

Psalm 76 concluded 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” (Psalm 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 (Psalm 76:11).

Closing thoughts –

Our study concludes by encouraging us to realize the LORD will “cut off the spirit of princes: He is terrible to the kings of the earth” (76:12). Our God will break the spirit of evil men. 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 and trust the LORD, you have no cause for worry or fear, for “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18a).

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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