Read: Psalm 76; 2 Kings 18 – 19
The title for this psalm in the ancient Greek translation (called the Septuagint) is “A Song Upon the Assyrians.” One occasion that fits the Psalm well is Sennacherib’s assault on Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah. The attribution of this psalm to Asaph probably means that it was a victory song assigned to the family of Asaph, who were Temple musicians.
Think About It: Are there other occasions in Israel’s history to which this psalm might relate? How specifically did Sennacherib blaspheme against God? What did Sennacherib think about the God of the Jews? What did God think about Sennacherib?
Prayer: Thank God that He is mightier than all the kings and powers of the earth, and that He holds them accountable for their actions.
Read: Psalm 76:1, 2; Ephesians 1:15 – 23
God and the power of His name are known in the place where He dwells. Salem and Zion are poetic names for Jerusalem. Salem specifically means “peace,” and Zion refers to the City of the King, a symbol for the City of God. Reverence for God’s name is found in proportion to knowledge and experience of God; reverence for God is greatest where He makes Himself at home.
Think About It: According to Ephesians 1:15 – 23, where does God make His home today? What does it mean to reverence God? How do I show reverence to God?
Prayer: Lord, thank You for letting me know You; help me to show reverence to You in the church.
Read: Psalm 76:1 – 3; Acts 4:23 – 31
In Salem, in Zion, God broke the arrows, the shield, the sword, and war itself. From a human perspective, battles are won on the battlefield. From a spiritual perspective, battles are won in prayer: not on the plains of Amelek, but by Moses on the mountain; not with Sennacherib before the gates of Jerusalem, but by Hezekiah and Isaiah praying in the Temple. Likewise today, battles are won not on the battlefield, but in the church through prayer.
Think About It: Who and what are the church’s enemies today? Where is the front line of the battle? Where and how will be battle be won?
Prayer: Praise God for His mighty power which is greater than all the forces of the enemy; thank God for assurance of victory.
Read: Psalm 76:5, 6; Isaiah 46:12 – 13
Sennacherib thought very little of Jerusalem, its defenders, or the God of Jerusalem. But at God’s rebuke– at just a word from the Lord– the charioteers and horses slept the sleep of death and the strong became weak. The King James translation begins verse 5, “The stouthearted are spoiled.” We think of “stouthearted” in a positive sense of loyalty and strength, but the Hebrew word translated “stouthearted” is used here figuratively for stubbornness. Sennacherib was so obstinate that he learned nothing from the miraculous defeat of his army, and returned home only to be killed by his own sons while worshiping his gods.
Think About It: Is Sennacherib’s attitude towards God and God’s people still present in today’s world? What might make someone like Sennacherib finally “get it”? How might the term “stouthearted” relate to the term “stiff-necked”? Why are such attitudes offensive to God?
Prayer: Lord, may you find my heart pliable and my spirit humble.
Read: Psalm 76:7 – 8; Nahum 1:6; Malachi 3:2; Revelation 6:17
Psalm 76:7 touches on a repeated biblical theme: no one can stand against the wrath of God in judgment. In Malachi’s day, people prayed for the day of the Lord to come, but Malachi warned them not to be so hasty. They were not ready for the day of the Lord; it would not be a day of deliverance for them, but a day of wrath and judgment. The only possible response to God when He begins to speak in wrath is to fall silent. One day all will fall silent before the Lord.
Think About It: On what basis do I dare to pray, “Even so, come Lord Jesus?” Am I ready to stand before the judgment seat of Christ?
Prayer: Thank the Lord that I am “under the blood” and that the issue of judgment has been settled for me.
Read: Psalm 76:8, 9; Zechariah 2:13; Psalm 35:20
The psalmist refers to God’s people as the “meek of the earth,” they are those who dwell quietly, who suffer wrong, and respond by doing good; who are cursed, but bless in return. One of God’s purposes in judgment is to save the meek of the earth.
Think About It: The Greek word for meekness was first used of animals that were tame, such as a horse that was broken to the bit, or an ox that permitted itself to take the yoke and pull the plow. Meekness did not imply weakness or lack of spirit, but rather the willingness to be directed. How does “meekness” help explain what it means to live the Christian life? How well does “meekness” describe my life?
Prayer: Lord, help me to manifest meekness before You and the world, to return blessings for curses, good deeds for evil.
Read: Psalm 76:10 – 12: Genesis 31:42; Isaiah 8:13
Psalm 76 closes with comfort for God’s people. God will turn even the wrath of men to His praise, because He is so completely in control of that wrath; He cuts it off when and where He chooses.
Think About It: How is the faithful believer to respond to the fact of God’s judgment? How am I to show the Lord that I respect and fear Him?
Prayer: Lord, help me to keep all my promises to You, and to show You proper respect and awe.