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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 74



Psalms 42-83 are Elohistic, i.e. they use the word God (Elohim) and avoid the proper name Yahweh, probably from motives of reverence. Here and there, however, the name Yahweh has crept into the text by a natural slip of the scribes.

Verses 1-23

LXXIV. The date may be fixed with certainty and that within narrow limits. The Jews are suffering extreme distress, but apparently by no fault of their own, for there is no confession of sin. The persecution is a religious one, since we are told repeatedly ( Psalms 74:10; Psalms 74:18; Psalms 74:22) that their foes blaspheme God. Synagogues, unknown in pre-exilic times, exist throughout the land. Calamities, to some extent similar, existed in 586 B.C. when the Babylonians took Jerusalem and burned down the Temple. But if the writer had lived in the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he could not have complained that no prophet had arisen ( Psalms 74:9). This, however, is just the complaint which befits Maccabean times ( 1Ma_9:27 ; 1Ma_4:46 ; 1Ma_14:41 ). Everything, therefore, points to the composition of the Ps. between 168 B.C., when Antiochus defiled the Temple with heathen sacrifice, forbade Jewish rites, and burnt copies of the Law, and 165, when Judas Maccabæ us cleansed the Temple and reorganised the worship (p. 607).

Psalms 74:1-11 . The misery of Israel beneath the oppression of the heathen, prayer for deliverance.

Psalms 74:3 . perpetual is a strange expression, for the ruins were of very recent date. But the Psalmist may have despaired of their restoration.

Psalms 74:4 may refer to Greek inscriptions, weapons, etc., hung in the Temple as “ signs” of the Greek ascendancy.

Psalms 74:7 . The Temple was not burnt down, but the door-posts were set on fire and destroyed ( 1Ma_4:38 ).

Psalms 74:9 . our signs: all the outward token of religion, e.g. observance of Sabbaths and feasts.

Psalms 74:11 . Read, “ Why dost thou hold back thy hand and keep thy right hand in the midst of thy bosom?”

Psalms 74:12-17 . God’ s Omnipotence as Creator.

Psalms 74:13 f. The Psalmist draws from the popular mythology. He refers to the struggle between the powers of light and darkness, the latter being personified as “ dragons” and Leviathan ( Job 3:8 *).

Psalms 74:14 b . The carcase of Leviathan was food for the wild beasts of the desert which feed on carrion.

Psalms 74:18-23 . Arise, O God!

Psalms 74:18 . Emend, “ In spite of this (i.e. in spite of God’ s wonders in creation) the enemy hath blasphemed Yahweh and a foolish ( i.e. impious, see Psalms 14:1, Isaiah 35:8 *) people hath blasphemed thy name.” It is perhaps worth noting in this connexion that the great adversary of the Jewish Law, Epiphanes, i.e. “ the illustrious,” was nicknamed Epimanes, i.e. “ the madman.”

Psalms 74:20 . Render, “ Look to the fat ones for they are full.” The wealthy oppressors are compared to fatlings. The pious Jews repair to dark holes and corners ( 1Ma_1:53 ; 1Ma_2:27 ff .) , but even there the oppressors find them out.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 74". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.