Psalm 79#sn Psalm 79. The author laments how the invading nations have destroyed the temple and city of Jerusalem. He asks God to forgive his people and to pour out his vengeance on those who have mistreated them.
A psalm of Asaph.
1 O God, foreigners#tn Or “nations.” have invaded your chosen land;#tn Heb “have come into your inheritance.”
they have polluted your holy temple
and turned Jerusalem#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. into a heap of ruins.
2 They have given the corpses of your servants
to the birds of the sky;#tn Heb “[as] food for the birds of the sky.”
the flesh of your loyal followers
to the beasts of the earth.
3 They have made their blood flow like water
all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury them.#tn Heb “they have poured out their blood like water, all around Jerusalem, and there is no one burying.”
4 We have become an object of disdain to our neighbors;
those who live on our borders taunt and insult us.#tn Heb “an [object of] taunting and [of] mockery to those around us.” See Ps 44:13.
5 How long will this go on, O Lord?#tn Heb “How long, O Lord?”
Will you stay angry forever?
How long will your rage#tn Or “jealous anger.” burn like fire?
6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not acknowledge you,#tn Heb “which do not know you.” Here the Hebrew term “know” means “acknowledge the authority of.”
on the kingdoms that do not pray to you!#sn The kingdoms that do not pray to you. The people of these kingdoms pray to other gods, not the Lord, because they do not recognize his authority over them.
7 For they have devoured Jacob
and destroyed his home.
8 Do not hold us accountable for the sins of earlier generations!#tn Heb “do not remember against us sins, former.” Some understand “former” as an attributive adjective modifying sins, “former [i.e., chronologically prior] sins” (see BDB 911 s.v. רִאשׁוֹן). The present translation assumes that ראשׁנים (“former”) here refers to those who lived formerly, that is, the people’s ancestors (see Lam 5:7). The word is used in this way in Lev 26:45; Deut 19:14 and Eccl 1:11.
Quickly send your compassion our way,#tn Heb “may your compassion quickly confront us.” The prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive, indicating a tone of prayer.
for we are in serious trouble!#tn Heb “for we are very low.”
9 Help us, O God, our deliverer!
For the sake of your glorious reputation,#tn Heb “the glory of your name.” Here and in the following line “name” stands metonymically for God’s reputation. rescue us!
Forgive our sins for the sake of your reputation!#tn Heb “your name.”
10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Before our very eyes may the shed blood of your servants
be avenged among the nations!#tn Heb “may it be known among the nations, to our eyes, the vengeance of the shed blood of your servants.”
11 Listen to the painful cries of the prisoners!#tn Heb “may the painful cry of the prisoner come before you.”
Use your great strength to set free those condemned to die!#tn Heb “according to the greatness of your arm leave the sons of death.” God’s “arm” here symbolizes his strength to deliver. The verbal form הוֹתֵר (hoter) is a Hiphil imperative from יָתַר (yatar, “to remain; to be left over”). Here it must mean “to leave over; to preserve.” However, it is preferable to emend the form to הַתֵּר (hatter), a Hiphil imperative from נָתַר (natar, “be free”). The Hiphil form is used in Ps 105:20 of Pharaoh freeing Joseph from prison. The phrase “sons of death” (see also Ps 102:21) is idiomatic for those condemned to die.
12 Pay back our neighbors in full!#tn Heb “Return to our neighbors sevenfold into their lap.” The number seven is used rhetorically to express the thorough nature of the action. For other rhetorical/figurative uses of the Hebrew phrase שִׁבְעָתַיִם (shiv’atayim, “seven times”) see Gen 4:15, 24; Ps 12:6; Prov 6:31; Isa 30:26.
May they be insulted the same way they insulted you, O Lord!#tn Heb “their reproach with which they reproached you, O Lord.”
13 Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will continually thank you.#tn Or (hyperbolically) “will thank you forever.”
We will tell coming generations of your praiseworthy acts.#tn Heb “to a generation and a generation we will report your praise.” Here “praise” stands by metonymy for the mighty acts that prompt worship. Cf. Ps 9:14.