Psalm 74 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Psalm 74)

Verse 2

[2] Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.

Thy congregation — Thy people.

Thine inheritance — The tribe of Judah, which thou hast in a special manner chosen for thine inheritance, and for the birth of the Messiah. Nor is it strange that he mentions this tribe particularly, because the calamity here remembered, did principally befal this tribe, and Benjamin, which was united with it.

Verse 3

[3] Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary.

Lift up — Come speedily to our rescue.

Because — Because otherwise our destruction is irrecoverable.

Verse 4

[4] Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs.

Roar — In a way of triumph.

Midst, … — In the places where thy people used to assemble for thy worship.

Set up — Monuments of their victory.

Verse 5

[5] A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees.

Famous — The temple was so noble a structure, that it was a great honour to any man to be employed in the meanest part of the work, though it were but in cutting down the trees of Lebanon.

Verse 6

[6] But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers.

Axes and hammers — These words are not Hebrew, but Chaldee or Syriack, to point out the time when this was done, even when the Chaldeans brought in their language, together with their arms, among the Israelites.

Verse 8

[8] They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land.

Destroy them — All at once. So they intended, although afterwards they changed their council, and carried some away captive.

Burnt up — All the public places wherein the Jews used to meet together to worship God every sabbath-day.

Verse 9

[9] We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.

Signs — Those tokens of God's gracious presence, which we used to enjoy. The temple and ark, and sacrifices, and solemn feasts, were signs between God and his people.

Prophet — Who can foretell things to come. Probably Ezekiel and Jeremiah were dead when this psalm was composed; and David was involved in civil affairs, and did not teach the people as a prophet.

Knoweth — How long their captivity should continue.

Verse 11

[11] Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck it out of thy bosom.

Why — Why dost thou forebear the exercise of thy power? Bosom - In which thou now seemest to hide it.

Verse 12

[12] For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.

King — It belongs therefore to thy office to protect and save me.

Midst — In the view of the world.

Verse 13

[13] Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.

Dragons — He means Pharaoh and his mighty men.

Verse 14

[14] Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.

Leviathan — Pharaoh.

The people — To the ravenous birds and beasts of the desert. These creatures are significantly called the people of the wilderness, because they are the only people that inhabit it.

Verse 15

[15] Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers.

The flood — Thou didst by cleaving the rock, make a fountain and a stream to flow from it, for the refreshment of thy people in those dry deserts.

Driedst — Jordan and the Red Sea; for the sea itself; yea, a greater sea than that, is called a river, Jonah 2:3, where the Hebrew word is the same which is here used. And the same title is expressly given to the sea, by Homer, and other ancient writers.

Verse 16

[16] The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun.

The light — The moon, the lesser light.

Verse 17

[17] Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.

Set — Thou hast fixed the bounds of the habitable world in general, and of all the countries and people upon the earth. And as this clause shews God's power over all places, so the next displays his dominion over all times and seasons.

Verse 18

[18] Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O LORD, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.

Remember — Though we deserve to be forgotten, yet do not suffer our enemies to reproach the name of the great and glorious God.

Verse 19

[19] O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever.

Soul — The life.

Turtle-dove — Of thy church, which is fitly compared to a turtle-dove, because simple and harmless, and meek, and faithful.

Verse 20

[20] Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.

The covenant — Made with Abraham, whereby thou didst give the land of Canaan to him, and to his seed for ever.

Dark places — This dark and dismal land in which we live.

Verse 21

[21] O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise thy name.

Return — From the throne of thy grace, to which they make their resort.