Psalms 74, 79 seem to reflect the same historical situation, and are usually ascribed to the same author. Both were written in a time of national calamity, when the Temple was profaned (Psalms 74), and the Israelites ruthlessly slaughtered (Psalms 79) by a heathen enemy. The occasion described must have been either the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadrezzar's army (586 b.c., 2 Kings 24; 2 Chronicles 36:11 f; Jeremiah 39:1-8; Jeremiah 52:1-4), or the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes (168-165 b.c.: see 1 Maccabees 1-4 and the Intro, to Daniel). Psalms 74:7 seems to point to the former, Psalms 74:8-9 to the latter period. After an opening appeal to God (Psalms 74:1-2) the Ps. describes the ravages of the enemy in the Temple (Psalms 74:3-7), and the distressed condition of Israel (Psalms 74:8-9). A second appeal (Psalms 74:10-11) is followed by recollection of God's past mercies, especially in leading His people from Egypt to Canaan (Psalms 74:12-15). Next comes an ascription of praise to God as the Ruler of Nature (Psalms 74:16-17), followed by a final prayer that He will vindicate His own glory, which the heathen have dishonoured (Psalms 74:18-23).
Title.—Maschil] see on Psalms 32.
1. Smoke] Like a dark thunder-cloud threatening a flock: see Psalms 18:8.
2. The rod.. redeemed] RV 'which thou hast redeemed to be the tribe of thine inheritance.'
3. Lift up thy feet unto] Hasten to see.
4. Their ensigns] either military standards or religious emblems: see 1 Maccabees 1:47, 1 Maccabees 1:54-55, 1 Maccabees 1:59.
5. A man.. lifted up] RP 'They seemed as men that lifted up.' The thick trees] RV 'a thicket of trees.'
8. Synagogues] The mention of these points to the later date for the Ps., as they only arose after the return from the Babylonian exile.
9. Our signs] either God's miraculous interpositions, or Jewish religious customs such as sacrifice, circumcision, and sabbath-observance, all of which Antiochus Epiphanes forbade under the heaviest penalties: see 1 Maccabees 1:45, 1 Maccabees 1:48, 1 Maccabees 1:50. No more any prophet, etc.] This hardly applies to the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem, when both Jeremiah and Ezekiel were alive, and when the former had foretold that the captivity would last 70 years. For the absence of prophets in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes see 1 Maccabees 4:46; 1 Maccabees 9:27; 1 Maccabees 14:41.
11. The last clause is condensed in the original. RV adds to the last clause, and consume them.'
13. The sea] the Red Sea: Exodus 14:21. The dragons] 'sea monsters,' a figure for Egypt.
14. Leviathan] probably the crocodile, another figure for Egypt: cp. Ezekiel 29:3-5; Ezekiel 32:1-5
The people inhabiting the wilderness] the wild beasts of the desert.
15. Cleave the fountain] i.e. cleave the rock from which the fountain flowed: see Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:8. Rivers] the Jordan: Joshua 3:13; Joshua 4:23.
16, 17. The signs of God's presence in nature.
18. The foolish people] RV 'a foolish people,' a heathen nation: see Deuteronomy 32:21.
20. Of the earth] better, 'of the land,' the hiding-places to which the Israelites were pursued by their enemies: see 1 Maccabees 1:53; 1 Maccabees 2:27-38.
23. Increaseth] RV 'ascendeth.'
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 74". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany