1 God, why have you turned your back on us for so long? Why does your anger burn against us? We are your very own sheep. 2 Remember that you chose us to be your own people a long time ago. Remember that you set us free from slavery to be your very own tribe. Remember Mount Zion, where you lived. 3 Walk through this place that has been torn down beyond repair. See how completely your enemies have destroyed the temple! 4 In the place where you used to meet with us, your enemies have shouted, “We’ve won the battle!” They have set up their flags to show they have beaten us. 5 They acted like people cutting down a forest with axes. 6 They smashed all of the beautiful wooden walls with their axes and hatchets. 7 They burned your temple to the ground. They polluted the place where your Name is. 8 They had said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where you were worshiped in the land. 9 You don’t give us miraculous signs anymore. There aren’t any prophets left. None of us knows how long that will last. 10 God, how long will your enemies make fun of you? Will they attack you with their words forever? 11 Why don’t you help us? Why do you hold back your powerful right hand? Use your strong arms to destroy your enemies! 12 God, you have been my king for a long time. The whole earth has seen you save us over and over again. 13 You parted the Red Sea by your power. You broke the heads of that sea monster in Egypt. 14 You crushed the heads of the sea monster Leviathan. You fed it to the creatures of the desert. 15 You opened up streams and springs. You dried up rivers that flow all year long. 16 You rule over the day and the night. You created the sun and the moon. 17 You decided where the borders of the earth would be. You made both summer and winter. 18 Lord, remember how your enemies have made fun of you. Remember how foolish people have attacked you with their words. 19 Don’t hand Israel, your dove, over to those wild animals. Don’t forget your suffering people forever. 20 Honor the covenant you made with us. Horrible things are happening in every dark corner of the land. 21 Don’t let your suffering people be put to shame. May those who are poor and needy praise you. 22 God, rise up. Stand up for your cause. Remember how foolish people make fun of you all day long. 23 Pay close attention to the shouts of your enemies. The trouble they cause never stops.
Psalm 74 could be considered a bit of a downer. Often a psalm will start out with a lament, but end with a declaration of the faithfulness and goodness of God -this one just leaves us a with a lament!
Israel’s enemies have attacked them and destroyed the temple and God is implored to rise up and act.
Sometimes circumstances can just seem to go from bad to worse. And it’s easy to just focus on the hard stuff – to ‘lament’ and forget to focus on the faithfulness of God.
I’ve caught myself from time to time using the ‘lament’ as my default reply when people ask how I’m going. It’s so easy to give a list of all the things in life that are challenging rather than speaking words of faith. I’m working on changing that. It doesn’t mean that I can never talk about challenges, but I know that it’s better to speak about the faithfulness of God rather than focus on the difficulties of life.
So I’m challenging myself to watch out for the lament. Perhaps you’d like to join me in that- to speak words of faith about our God who is bigger than any circumstance we may face.
Written by Shelley Witt