Wrestling with “Why?”


     Psalms 74 and 75 have been placed consecutively in the Hebrew song book because the haunting questions of the former are answered in the latter.  In Psalm 74, Asaph is vigorously wrestling with the question of “Why?”— “O God, why have You cast us off forever?  Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture…Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand?” (vv. 1, 11).  “O God, how long will the adversary reproach?  Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever?” (v. 10) hauntingly reverberates in his head, and there is no immediate answer, because “there is no longer any prophet; nor is there any among us who knows how long” (v. 9).

     There is an answer; there always is.  When God chooses—at the proper time—He will judge uprightly (Psalm 75:2).

     The source of Asaph’s questions was not some minor spiritual hangnail; the enemy had damaged everything in the temple, God’s sanctuary (74:3).  How profuse the devastation had been: “Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place; they set up their banners for signs.  They seem like men who lift up axes among the thick trees.  And now they break down its carved work, all at once, with axes and hammers.  They have set fire to Your sanctuary; they have defiled the dwelling place of Your name to the ground.  They said in their hearts, ‘Let us destroy them altogether.’  They have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land” (74:4-8).

     When wrestling with “Why?”, Asaph did the following noteworthy things:

  • He reflected upon God’s impressive past, of His “working salvation in the midst of the earth” (74:12-17).
  • He drew near to God in prayer, requesting God to remember that the enemy had reproached, a foolish people had blasphemed His name (74:18-21). His petition was: “Arise, O God, plead Your own cause; remember how the foolish man reproaches You daily.  Do not forget the voice of Your enemies; the tumult of those who rise up against You increases continually” (74:22-23).

     His patient waiting upon the Lord was rewarded; Psalm 75 begins with this joyous burst of gratitude—”We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!  For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near.”  Divine retribution did come (75:2-3). 

     The truth that must always be remembered when wrestling with “Why?” is that all the horns of the wicked God will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted (75:10).  Every time.

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Author: jchowning

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