Attention! has pledged to build one church a year in Uganda. Help us double that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 74

Verses 1-23

Title. Maschil of Asaph; that is, instruction, as Psalms 32:0. The EDDA is the title of the Icelandic poem, which also signifies instruction. This mournful ode is also alleged to have been written in Babylon, and to bear the name of Asaph, because sung to his musical compositions, or sung by the sons of Asaph. See Psalms 79:0. But Lyranus thinks that Asaph foretold the destruction of the temple; and the use of the pronoun this, in Psalms 74:2: “Remember THIS mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt,” sufficiently indicates that the psalmist wrote in Jerusalem. The phraseology would not be natural to a resident in Babylon.

Psalms 74:2 . Thine inheritance redeemed from Egypt, as the Chaldaic adds: whom thou only hast a right to rule with thy rod, or thy sceptre. This is a good argument in prayer to God for another redemption.

Psalms 74:7 . They have cast fire into thy sanctuary. 2 Chronicles 36:19. They burned the house of the Lord. Antiochus also burned the gates, and profaned the temple, 1Ma 4:38 .

Psalms 74:8 . They have burnt up all the synagogues. It is said that the Lord loveth the gates of Zion, more than all the dwellings of Jacob. The dwellingplaces were the synagogues, by consequence, synagogues existed more or less from the beginning of the Hebrew nation: the heathen made their boast of conquering the gods, and insulting Jehovah.

Psalms 74:9 . We see not our signs, of altar, sacrifice, and temple.

Psalms 74:14 . Thou brakest the heads of leviathan; figuratively, of Pharaoh and his princes at the Red sea. The alligator is killed by a stroke on the head. The bodies of the Egyptians were washed far and wide, even down the sea to Ethiopia, that the beasts and ravens might eat their flesh. See note on Amos 9:3.

Psalms 74:19 . Thy turtle dove. As these doves were domestic favourites, so the Hebrews were dear to God.

Psalms 74:20 . The dark places of the earth. Gentile lands and gentile lords are full of cruelty.


The psalmist asks here, “Oh God, why hast thou cast us off?” The prophets have said of Zion, her foundation standeth fast; she should not be moved for ever. Strange that the Lord should abhor his own inheritance. Moses gives the answer: but if there shall arise a root bearing wormwood and gall; a departure from the Lord to the worship of idols, then the Lord would send them into captivity, and scatter them on the face of the whole earth. Here then is an equal voice to the christian church.

The psalmist complains in the day of visitation of the peculiar pride with which the enemy raised their axes against the beautifully carved work of the cedars, and the branches of the palm-trees, which designated the ever- flourishing state of religion, and put fire to the temple, which for three nights illuminated the heavens, and then expired as an omen of departed glory. These were scenes which rent the hearts of all lovers of Zion. These were the severer strokes of an angry God; but the Hope of Israel was not lost; grace was reserved for the remnant.

He cries to heaven for help, being encouraged by ancient graces which God had conferred on the Hebrew church, in breaking the head of leviathan, the cruel tyrant, and dragon of the Nile; in dividing the rock of Horeb to give water, and in opening the Jordan to give passage to his saints. He pleads, that as God still gave them light from heaven, and fruitful seasons, so he would ultimately hear their prayers and avenge the blasphemies of the heathen who had insulted his name. It was a dark day for the Jews; but the eye of faith was not beclouded. Truly, after all chastisements, God is good to Israel, to them who are clean in heart. A glorious high throne is the place of our sanctuary from the beginning. That throne is higher than the heavens, and cannot be affected by the burning of earthly temples.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 74". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.