I’m old enough now to recognize some of the familiar themes in television shows and movies. I’ll often comment to my kids that the current Star Wars trilogy is not too dissimilar from the original trilogy that was first released in 1977, or that a current television series is like a series from 20 years ago. Sure, the actors are different, and the technology has taken great leaps, but the basic storylines have persisted and remain unchanged.
As I read Psalm 76, I was thinking that there is a familiar storyline that the psalmist wants us to grasp only instead of looking back, the psalmist is asking us to look forward.
The first three verses sum up the history of God’s people and how God has repeatedly delivered His people from those who have attacked them.
We don’t know the circumstances that led to the Psalm’s creation but it’s possible that the Psalm was written during the reign of Hezekiah when God rescued Jerusalem from the overwhelming army of the Assyrians (2 Kings 19).
The next three verses (4-6) go on to praise the Lord for His greatness and deliverance, and in verses 7-9, the Lord is to be praised for His deliverance of the humble of the earth, that is those who are unable to stand for themselves.
It’s interesting to notice that the psalmist recognizes that God’s sovereign authority and power are not limited to just Jerusalem; the Lord’s saving deliverance is for all the humble of the earth.
The last three verses push our thinking into the future, to the time when God’s terrifying power will put things right in the final judgment to come.
But let’s understand this correctly because we often struggle when we hear the word “judgment”.
Here, the acts of God’s judgment in the past are meant as a warning to the wicked, urging them to be reconciled to the Lord who is greatly to be feared before the opportunity is lost.
With that understanding, we can rightly recognize God’s mercy in this Psalm in that the Lord wants even the wicked of the world to be reconciled to Him.
We see this truth reflected in 2 Peter 3.9-10 when Peter speaks of God’s patience as we wait for the day of Jesus’ return.
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Soaking it all in, I’m left challenged in a couple of ways. First, I’m challenged to recognize and praise the Lord for the ways that He has been working and moving in my life. As we noted in Psalm 62, the Lord is our rock, our refuge, our fortress, and salvation, and as we continually wait on and place our trust in Him, we will not be shaken.
And at the same time, I’m challenged to share the Gospel message with those who don’t know the Lord. The heart of the Lord is for all to be reconciled to Himself through His Son Jesus and you and I are His ambassadors who have the right and privilege of carrying His Good News out into the world.
So how might you give the Lord an offering of praise today, and to whom might the Lord be leading you to share the Good News of His love, mercy, and forgiveness?
God bless you and know that you are prayed for constantly.