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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 76

Verses 1-4


This psalm is about God breaking the power of the enemy. It is about the breaking of the power of Assyria or the king of the north, by the appearance of the LORD, that is the Lord Jesus. The presence of the Lord Jesus in the city of the great King (Matthew 5:35) is the response of God to the power of the enemy. From that time on Jerusalem is given the name Yahweh Shammah, which means ‘the LORD is there’ (Ezekiel 48:35).

To what historical event the psalm refers is not given. The defeat of the Assyrians does give an impression of what is represented in the psalm (2 Kings 19:32-Habakkuk :; Isaiah 37:36). This impression is supported by the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. In the title of this psalm, the Septuagint mentions “on the Assyrians”. In any case, God will rescue His people in the future from the encirclement of hostile nations by breaking the power of those nations.

God Is Known in Judah

For “for the choir director” (Psalms 76:1) see at Psalm 4:1.

For “on stringed instruments” see at Psalm 4:1.

For “a Psalm of Asaph” see at Psalm 50:1.

This psalm is also “a Song”, meaning it is a song of praise.

By the extermination of the enemies of His people – that is, Judah, the two tribes, and Israel, the ten tribes, that is, all twelve tribes (cf. Ezekiel 37:15-Nehemiah :) – God has made Himself known “in Judah” (Psalms 76:1). Now He is not known there yet, He is not known, but rejected. This will change as soon as the Son of God, the Messiah, returns to Judah.

By His action in judgment against the heathen kings, “His Name is great in Israel”. He is coming for all Israel, which will consist of the righteous (Isaiah 60:21), for the apostates have been judged by Him. It is the day of His power, the day when His people will be a willing people (Psalms 110:3).

“In Salem”, that is in Jerusalem (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1-Exodus :), is “His tabernacle” [literally: shelter] (Psalms 76:2). Calling Jerusalem by its shortened name emphasizes its meaning. Salem means ‘peace’. He makes sure that His people can dwell in peace. The name Salem emphasizes that Christ is now truly King of peace (Hebrews 7:2). Now that the Prince of peace reigns, there is truly peace on earth.

And He dwells with His people in “His tabernacle”, or His shelter, indicating that He protects them with His presence (cf. Psalms 27:5). The psalmist adds that “His dwelling place”, that is, His temple, is “in Zion”. Zion is the part of Jerusalem where God’s dwelling place stands. The relationship with the people of Israel is now restored. Jerusalem is now called Yahweh Shammah, which means ‘the LORD is there’ (Ezekiel 48:35) and the temple has been rebuilt. The realm of peace can begin.

There, at Jerusalem, where He dwells, He has broken “the flaming arrows” Psalms 76:3). He has also rendered useless the other weapons of attack, “the shield” and “the sword”. God has deprived the enemy of his effectiveness. Thus He has put an end to “war”. The ending of the war is not due to skillful defending by the defenders of the city, but due to God’s action. The LORD is back in Jerusalem, the war is over (Isaiah 2:4).

As a result, the long despised LORD is now “resplendent, more majestic than the mountains of prey” (Psalms 76:4). ‘The mountains of prey’ – mountains represent mighty kingdoms – are a symbol of mighty rulers bent on robbery (cf. Ezekiel 38:12-1 Chronicles :). ‘Mountains of prey’ is difficult to translate. We can think of powerful rulers, such as the king of the north. We can also think of the rapacious Assyrians who were killed by the angel of the LORD on the mountains around Jerusalem.

In the face of the mountains of prey, Mount Zion radiates light by which it shines. This radiance of light is the result of the presence of God Who is light. God dwells there. That is why this mountain is more powerful than all earthly predatory powers. We can also think of the great mountain that will fill the whole earth (Daniel 2:35), a kingdom that will not perish in eternity (Daniel 2:44).

Verses 5-10

God’s Majesty and Power

When Messiah comes, He will rob the “stouthearted” of their weapons (Psalms 76:5). Their stoutheartedness doesn’t mean anything. He will rob them while “they sank into sleep”, that is, in the night (cf. Psalms 121:4). They think they can win an easy victory, but then are caught unawares. With their weapons, the strength in their hands is also gone.

“None of the warriors” is yet able to do battle. In the past, the Assyrians, 185,000 strong men, were slain by the Angel of the LORD in one night (2 Kings 19:35). In the future, Assyria, the king of the north, will suffer the same fate.

The punishment inflicted upon them comes from the “God of Jacob” (Psalms 76:6). Judah and Israel themselves have no strength to defend themselves. By God’s punishment, the enemy’s entire military strength is eliminated forever (cf. Exodus 14:23-Hosea :). The “dead sleep” is the sleep of death, the sleep that ends in death (cf. Judges 4:21). No more threat emanates from them. They need have no more fear of the enemy.

The only One Who inspires awe is God (Psalms 76:7). To emphasize this the sentence begins with an emphatic “You, even You”. How awesome He has shown Himself in eliminating the enemy. This automatically raises the question: “Who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry?” (cf. Hebrews 12:29; Hebrews 10:27-Obadiah :). There is only one conceivable answer to this question: no one.

In the presence of Him Who has made His judgment heard from heaven, the earth is in fear, and it becomes still (Psalms 76:8). This means that the LORD will come, not only as a formidable Warrior, but also as the Judge Who will judge everyone. He is the One Who can say: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

That He lets hear His judgment “from heaven” emphasizes His exaltation above all else. From His throne in heaven He governs the universe. On earth everything and everyone is hushed up at the hearing of His voice. No one dares to stir his tongue anymore. “Every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God” (Romans 3:19; cf. Matthew 22:12).

God has not only made His voice heard from heaven, but He has also risen “in judgment to save all the humble of the earth” (Psalms 76:9). The meek, or humble, are all those who belong to the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. They have learned from Him to be meek, or gentle (Matthew 11:29). They are being redeemed to receive the promise He pronounced in the ‘beatitudes’: they, the humble, or gentle, shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

All the actions and feelings of all men are under God’s control and cooperate with His glorification, often against their will. Thus, even “the wrath of men shall praise” Him (Psalms 76:10). The clearest evidence of this is the greatest sin ever committed by man. He crucified the Son of God in blind anger, while God used this sin to fulfill His counsel to the praise of His glory (Acts 2:23; Ephesians 1:7-2 Kings :).

The “remnant of wrath”, all the anger that man still expresses under the inspiration of Satan against His own, He will use for this purpose as well. For He will restrain that anger. He defines the limit of it. In this He reveals His power. Everything in which He reveals Himself, means His glorification. Prophetically, it points to God’s restraint of Assyria if it has done what God wanted. The end is the destruction of Assyria.

Verses 11-12

God Is Feared by the Kings

Deliverance has been accomplished. Now it is a matter of fulfilling the vows made in the distress “to the LORD your God” (Psalms 76:11). This refers to the votive offering, a form of the peace offering (Leviticus 7:16). That is what the remnant is reminded of here.

The LORD is now their God. Like Elijah, whose name means ‘the LORD is my God’, the faithful remnant through the service of Elijah, the service of the maskilim, can now say ‘the LORD is my God’. They are addressed here as “all who are around Him”. They live around Him, He is in their midst. That makes the fulfillment of their vows all the more desirable.

Next, the surrounding peoples are also addressed (Psalms 76:11). They are told to “bring gifts to Him who is to be feared”. They will be wise to acknowledge Him in His supremacy which He has proved in the judgment on His enemies. They can express their fear of Him, which includes the acknowledgment of His authority, by bringing Him gifts.

The breath of the princes of the surrounding nations is in His hand (Psalms 76:12; Daniel 5:23). We see these princes in the two beasts of Revelation 13 – the beast out of the sea, which is the leader of the then restored Roman Empire, and the beast out of the earth, which is the antichrist –, in the king of the north, and in Gog and Magog.

God cuts off their spirit, i.e. their breath, with the ease with which one ‘cuts off grapes’ to throw them into the wine press to be trampled on (Psalms 2:1-Joshua :; cf. Revelation 14:18-Proverbs :). “The kings of the earth” fear Him, for He is “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5). To Him all kings must give an account. When the time of their sentencing comes, they will rightly fear Him.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 76". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.