Psalm 76

To the Chief Musician. On stringed instruments. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.

1 In Judah God is known;
His name is great in Israel.

2 In Salem also is His tabernacle,
And His dwelling place in Zion.

3 There He broke the arrows of the bow,
The shield and sword of battle. Selah

You are more glorious and excellent
Than the mountains of prey.

5 The stouthearted were plundered;
They have sunk into their sleep;
And none of the mighty men have found the use of their hands.

6 At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
Both the chariot and horse were cast into a dead sleep.

You, Yourself, are to be feared;
And who may stand in Your presence
When once You are angry?

8 You caused judgment to be heard from heaven;
The earth feared and was still,

9 When God arose to judgment,
To deliver all the oppressed of the earth. Selah

10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise You;
With the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself.

11 Make vows to the Lord your God, and pay them;
Let all who are around Him bring presents to Him who ought to be feared.

12 He shall cut off the spirit of princes;
He is awesome to the kings of the earth.

Verses 1-3 — The psalmist begins by affirming the special sense in which God is among His people. … This special relationship is visibly highlighted by His tabernacle in Salem (Jerusalem), which is the dwelling place of His manifest presence within creation—both historically, as the site where His “cloud of glory” dwelt (see Exodus 40:34-38), and well as for all eternity, when He finally establishes His kingdom on earth (see Ezekiel 43:7; Revelation 21:22ff.). — Wechsler, page 191.

known (v.1) = self-revealed. It is the first word of the Psalm in the Hebrew.

Verses 4-10 — God’s triumphant defense of His people is expressed not only when His presence is visibly among them and they are in the Promises Land, but also when they are out of the land—to illustrate which point Asaph refers, as in Psalm 74:12-15, to God’s defense of Israel from the army of Pharaoh at the Red Sea (vs. 5-6). — Wechsler, pages 191-192.

mountains of pray (v.4) — a symbolic reference to Israel’s enemies. Meyer believes the “prey” to be “spoils.”

the wrath of man shall praise You (v.10) — perhaps meaning that the futility of the resistance to God will demonstrate God’s authority and greatness. As Morgan puts it, “He compels evil to serve His purpose.”

Verses 11-12 — Asaph … [affirms] that God’s defense of Israel … ultimately extends beyond all borders and earthly limitations, whether external (i.e., geographical, political, social, v.11) or internal (i.e., emotional and spiritual, v.12). With an eye to that future time when all nations will submit to the rule of God on earth, Asaph exhorts the kings of his day to cease their vain striving and express their submission by bringing tribute (a gift expressing submission and worship) to the Lord—employing the same messianic phraseology as in Genesis 49:10. — Wechsler, page 192.

Williams’ take:

As the two previous Psalms spoke respectively of the enemy n the Sanctuary and of Messiah in the Sanctuary so this speaks of his destruction of the haters of the Sanctuary. Its fulfillment belongs to the days of Micah 4; Zechariah 12 and 14; Revelation 19, and other similar prophecies, when the future kings of the earth under the captaincy of Antichrist will with their armies encompass Zion, and, to their discomfiture, meet Messiah there, who will judge them and deliver Israel.

God is not known today in Judah, but faith here sings of the time when He shall become known in Judah and when His name shall become great in Israel, for the destruction of the kings in that future day at Jerusalem will demonstrate that God is there, and that in very deed Zion is His dwelling-place. Messiah will there make Himself known by breaking in pieces all the weapons of the enemy; and then the enemies themselves He will cast into the deep sleep of death (vs. 5-6, 12). — Williams, page 359.

I don’t have a problem with understanding this psalm to refer both to God’s protection of Israel at the time of the Exodus and in the future. Ryrie thinks the Psalm refers to the defeat of the Assyrians in 701 B.C., based on his understanding of Psalm 75. I didn’t buy his argument there, and so don’t here either.

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