Psalm 79

The Psalms

Psalm 79
How to pray when in need

Psalms index

Psalm 79

1 A psalm of Asaph.

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. 2 They have given the dead bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the air, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth. 3 They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no-one to bury the dead. 4 We are objects of reproach to our neighbours, of scorn and derision to those around us.

5 How long, O LORD? Will you be angry for ever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? 6 Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name; 7 for they have devoured Jacob and destroyed his homeland. 8 Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. 9 Help us, O God our Saviour, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. 10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants. 11 May the groans of the prisoners come before you; by the strength of your arm preserve those condemned to die. 12 Pay back into the laps of our neighbours seven times the reproach they have hurled at you, O Lord.

13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you for ever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.


Psalm 79 – How to pray when in need

(Verses 1-4) Asaph again rehearses the historic and tragic sacking of Jerusalem as he had in Psalm 74. The horrific details are engraved on his mind: the Temple defiled; Jerusalem ruined; the birds and beasts eating the corpses left lying around because not enough people were left to bury them; bloodshed that was like running water; and the wicked way that neighbours react to the once majestic Jerusalem’s fate by their reproach, scorn, and derision.

Learn two things about prayer from this:

First, by all means pray to God in detail about what concerns you, because He is interested in you and in the details that trouble you, as well as in the main problem.

Second, do not worry about raising in prayer the same thing with God many times. It fits the wide scope of prayer in Matthew 7:7— keep on knocking at God’s door in prayer.

(Verses 5-12) Look at the many prayer requests Asaph makes in these verses:

  • His prayer ‘How long, O LORD?’ is another way of suggesting to God that it’s time for Him to act.
  • He asks God to respond in punishing the nations that are anti-God, especially those who devoured His people and ruined His homeland. Today, Christians pray for enemies’ conversion, but another good lesson here is to leave revenge to God, and never ‘do it yourself.’
  • He asks God not to find the current generation guilty because of their fathers’ sins that caused God to chastise them in such a hard way.
  • He admits at once that they also, need God’s ‘mercy’ and ‘quickly’. They are in ‘desperate need’.
  • He asks for God’s help, without which they cannot glorify God.
  • He asks God to ‘deliver’ (save) and ‘forgive [their] sins for [God’s] name’s sake.’ If you have repented, asked God to deliver (save) you and forgive your sins, He has done so. Jesus died for you and bore your sins and punishment on the cross, lives today, and is the Saviour of all who trust in Him. His name means ‘God saves’—Jesus does just that!
  • He asks God to act so the nations know He is God.
  • He prays for God to hear the groans of prisoners held by the enemy and to save them. God loves prisoners.

(Verse 13) Asaph promises God that His people (‘sheep of His pasture’) will then praise Him for all time. So should we!