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Exile & Restoration in Book III

December 19, 2008

Book III (Pss. 73-89) is constructed by two collections of Psalms, the first is the Asaph collection, the second is the Korah collection. Ps. 73 opens up the Book teaching that the thoughts and ways of God are not those of men and instructing the reader in the way of wisdom. Further, the whole book is replete with the tension of exile and past acts of deliverance and the whole book can be summed up as pleas for the latter in the midst of the former culminating in Ps. 89. In Ps. 78 the election of David and Jerusalem is recounted and in Ps. 81 the reader is exhorted covenant obedience.

I must confess that Ps. 74 is one of my favourites of thise Book:

O God, why have you rejected us forever?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?

Remember the people you purchased long ago,
the tribe of your inheritance, whom you redeemed—
Mount Zion, where you dwelt.

Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.

Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;
they set up their standards as signs.

They behaved like men wielding axes
to cut through a thicket of trees.

They smashed all the carved paneling
with their axes and hatchets.

They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.

They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”
They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.

We are given no signs from God;
no prophets are left,
and none of us knows how long this will be.

How long will the enemy mock you, God?
Will the foe revile your name forever?

Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!

But God is my King from long ago;
he brings salvation on the earth.

It was you who split open the sea by your power;
you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.

It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.

It was you who opened up springs and streams;
you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.

The day is yours, and yours also the night;
you established the sun and moon.

It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
you made both summer and winter.

Remember how the enemy has mocked you, LORD,
how foolish people have reviled your name.

Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.

Have regard for your covenant,
because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.

Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace;
may the poor and needy praise your name.

Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
remember how fools mock you all day long.

Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries,
the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.

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