“Let the groans of the prisoners come before you!
According to your great power
Preserve those doomed to die!
Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors
The taunts with which they have taunted you!
Then we your people,
The flock of your pasture,
Will give thanks to you forever.
From generation to generation
We will recount your praise.”
This psalm ends with the request to listen to their prayers. The Israelites considered themselves as prisoners who were doomed to die. Indeed the psalmist wanted God to preserve them. He wanted God to return sevenfold the taunts that had been delivered to them. They were his people, his flock. They would give thanks forever so that generation after generation would praise him.
“Do not remember against us
The iniquities of our ancestors.
Let your compassion come speedily to meet us.
We are brought very low.
O God of our salvation!
For the glory of your name!
Forgive our sins!
For your name’s sake!
Why should the nations say?
‘Where is their God?’
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood
Of your servants
Be known among the nations
Before our eyes!”
Their ancestor’s iniquities should not cause a problem today. God should not remember them, rather he should have compassion on the present day lowly Israelites. The glory of God’s name should deliver them. Their sins should be forgiven for God’s name. Why should the nations say that their God is gone? He should avenge the outpoured blood on the other nations, right before their eyes.
Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealous wrath burn like fire?
Pour out your anger on the nations
That do not know you!
Pour out your anger on the kingdoms
That do not call on your name!
They have devoured Jacob.
They have laid waste his habitation.”
How long will Yahweh wait? Will he be angry forever? Will the wrath of his jealous anger burn like a fire? Rather, the psalmist wants Yahweh to pour out his anger on the nations and kingdoms that do not know him or do not call on his name. They are the ones who devoured Jacob or Israel as they laid waste to their living spaces.
A psalm of Asaph
The nations have come into your inheritance.
They have defiled your holy temple.
They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants
To the birds of the air for food.
The flesh of your faithful has been given
To the wild animals of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water,
All around Jerusalem.
There was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbors.
We are mocked.
We are derided
By those around us.”
Psalm 79 is another psalm of Asaph. This national lamentation deplores the defeat and ruin of Jerusalem and its Temple, probably at the time of the captivity around 587 BCE. The bodies of the faithful were given over to the birds of the air and the wild animals. Their blood was all around Jerusalem. No one was there to bury them. The Israelites had become a taunt to their neighbors. They were mocked and derided by everybody around them.