What do you do when the foundation of your existence was shattered?
For the Israelites, Jerusalem Temple was the center of their national life. In 587 BC it was destroyed by the Babylonians. It was not just physical destruction of the Temple but psychological breakdown of the national spirit. People lost faith in God and hope for their future. Psalmist shared the pain of the people in this psalm.
“O God, 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 to the wild animals of the earth. They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us.”
Nothing lasts forever and so do disasters!
Disasters also have terms. Everything passes by. The question was how long they had to endure the pain and difficulties. If we know the definite term, it would be easier for us to face challenges. God wants us to endure, however, with faith and not with knowledge!
“How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire? Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call on your name. For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and 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. Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power preserve those doomed to die.”
When we cannot or will not revenge, we pray to God!
In reality, it was not possible for the Israel to pay back to the invaders for what they suffered. That was why the psalmist prayed to God. Once they repented their sins, now they are ready to plea to God for salvation and revenge.
“Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors the taunts with which they taunted you, O Lord! Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”
The psalmist praised God before actual salvation happened. Now the future became reality already in the heart of the psalmist and in this psalm. We need this literal reality before we taste the physical one.