1 A psalm of Asaph. O God, why have you rejected us forever? Why is your anger so intense against the sheep of your own pasture? 2 Remember that we are the people you chose in ancient times, the tribe you redeemed as your own special possession! And remember Jerusalem, your home here on earth. 3 Walk through the awful ruins of the city; see how the enemy has destroyed your sanctuary. 4 There your enemies shouted their victorious battle cries; there they set up their battle standards. 5 They chopped down the entrance like woodcutters in a forest. 6 With axes and picks, they smashed the carved paneling. 7 They set the sanctuary on fire, burning it to the ground. They utterly defiled the place that bears your holy name. 8 Then they thought, “Let’s destroy everything!” So they burned down all the places where God was worshiped.
At first, it was no problem for me to envision the Psalmist was writing about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by King Nebuchadnezzar and the army of the Chaldeans. But then it occurred to me – the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylons happened in 597 and 586 B.C.. But David died at the age of 70 in the year 970 B.C.. The destruction of Jerusalem wouldn’t happen for another 373 years.
Is this prophetic songwriting?
As for the content of the Psalm itself – I have to be honest. I know it must have been a miserable time for the Israelites being all attacked and captured and all that. But, it wasn’t like they weren’t warned. Disobedience must be punished. God is a holy God. He gave them second, third, fourth chances and more. The destruction of Jerusalem was not as a result of God’s neglect or forgetfulness as this Psalm seems to suggest. It was a result of their relentless disobedience over the years. I often think about how things might be different if the Israelites had been more faithful.
Then again, I wonder about my own life – how it would be so different if I had been more obedient.
The thing I like about this Psalm is the reassurance that it’s good to talk to God, no matter what’s on your mind. The fact that He chose to include this in the Bible (He DID control what was included, you know) tells me that He wanted us to just talk to Him…sing to Him…pray to Him.
God is good…