PSALM 79#A communal lament complaining that the nations have defiled the Temple and murdered the holy people, leaving their corpses unburied (Ps 79:1–4). The occasion is probably the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army in 587 B.C. The people ask how long the withdrawal of divine favor will last (Ps 79:5), pray for action now (Ps 79:6–7), and admit that their own sins have brought about the catastrophe (Ps 79:8–9). They seek to persuade God to act for reasons of honor: the nations who do not call upon the Name are running amok (Ps 79:6); the divine honor is compromised (Ps 79:1, 10, 12); God’s own servants suffer (Ps 79:2–4, 11).
A Prayer for Jerusalem
1A psalm of Asaph.
O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.#a. [79:1] 2 Kgs 25:9–10; Lam 1:10.
2They have left the corpses of your servants
as food for the birds of the sky,
the flesh of those devoted to you for the beasts of the earth.#b. [79:2] Jer 7:33.
3They have poured out their blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and no one is left to do the burying.#c. [79:3] 1 Mc 7:17; Jer 14:16.
4We have become the reproach of our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.#d. [79:4] Ps 44:14; 80:7; 123:3–4; Jb 12:4; Dn 9:16; Zep 2:8.
5How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealous anger keep burning like fire?#e. [79:5] Ps 13:2; 44:24; 89:47; Dt 4:24.
6Pour out your wrath on nations that do not recognize you,
on kingdoms that do not call on your name,#f. [79:6] Ps 14:4; Jer 10:25.
7For they have devoured Jacob,
laid waste his dwelling place.
8Do not remember against us the iniquities of our forefathers;
let your compassion move quickly ahead of us,
for we have been brought very low.#g. [79:8] Ps 142:7.
9Help us, God our savior,
on account of the glory of your name.
Deliver us, pardon our sins
for your name’s sake.#h. [79:9] Ez 20:44; 36:22.
10Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”#i. [79:10] Ps 42:4; 115:2; Jl 2:17.
Before our eyes make known to the nations
that you avenge the blood of your servants which has been poured out.#j. [79:10] Jl 4:21.
11Let the groaning of the imprisoned come in before you;
in accord with the greatness of your arm
preserve those doomed to die.#k. [79:11] Ps 102:21.
12Turn back sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors
the insult with which they insulted you, Lord.#l. [79:12] Ps 89:51–52.
13Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
from generation to generation
we will recount your praise.