Psalms 79: Keeping in Context

Psalms 79 is a little bit gruesome because we see the consequences of Israel failing to follow God. Personally, I’m not sure what time exactly is being described in this chapter because Israel was conquered a few times, but the point is that this was not a happy time.

Listen to what the writer, Asaph, has to say in response to this consequence that God has allowed to happen.

Psa 79:8  O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.

Psa 79:9  Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.

If I didn’t tell you, you might have thought that this was a New Testament passage. It doesn’t sound all that much different. God is our salvation, and when He forgives us of our sins, He will never remember them again.

However, there is an interesting difference. In this verse, he seems to be largely talking about the physical salvation of Israel. The entire structure of the chapter begins on the physical overrunning of Jerusalem, then we get to the verses I mentioned about needing salvation, and we finally get around to asking God to help avenge the blood of those who had fallen.

This is a very physical type of chapter. This is the type of prayer that you pray when you are in a very difficult situation. Even if you had made some bad decisions that led you to your current location, you can still bring that to God for His help and strength.

Of course, we could spiritualize these verses like I said before. It does sound a lot like some of the spiritual salvation verses that we find in the New Testament, but I would be cautious about doing that. It does not seem to fit the greater context of the chapter, and we want to make sure that we are not reading things in that really are not there.

You all know that I enjoy apologetics, and one of the biggest issues we have in that field is when opponents take Bible verses out of context and “proof text.” We want to make sure that we are not doing that on our side either. Certainly, God is a God who does provide spiritual salvation, but if I was looking for a verse to support that claim, I would not use this one necessarily. This chapter is about a man praying for physical deliverance and salvation from literal captivity.

About Zak Schmoll

Zak Schmoll is the founder of Entering the Public Square, and Managing Editor of An Unexpected Journal. He earned his MA in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University and is currently a PhD student in Humanities at Faulkner University. His work has been featured on several websites including The Federalist, Public Discourse and the Fourth World Journal.

Posted on January 30, 2014, in Psalms and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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