Psalm 74, written by Asaph, has an uncertain specificity of its time of writing. I’m not going to get into it here, but you can read this commentaryon it about how it could have been written as a reflection about Israel’s Babylonian captivity or a prophetic vision about the future persecution of the first church. I’m actually not going to talk about either of these instances, rather our own hearts today.
When we are “practicing sin” (1 John 3:4) or lawlessness, as some versions translate it, we are far from God. We literally cannot exist in God’s presence if we are sinning and therefore live in hell on earth, since we are operating outside of His will and presence. It is as if we are taking a break from Kingdom living to “do our own thing” and it leads to an emptiness inside. When we repent of this and come to our senses (think of the prodigal son waking up in the pig pen) we suddenly recognize this loneliness we have created away from God. Suddenly we cry out and ask God to forgive and redeem us, to not forget us. Thankfully, He welcomes us back into His arms just like the father of the prodigal son, but let us not focus on this famous part of the story. Let’s rewind a little and go back to the pig pen.
In the psalm, we see the writer talking about how God’s adversaries, Israel’s adversaries, and still today our adversaries, “defiled the dwelling place of [God’s] name.” He’s talking about how the temple was destroyed and how sad that was. Friends, today God’s temple isn’t a building, but He has made our hearts His dwelling place. So, I encourage us to evaluate: how much has the adversary destroyed our hearts? To put the psalmists description into more modern day terms, it was like the enemy went through the temple like a bull in a china shop, destroying everything it could just for the sake of destroying it. This is the work the enemy does on our hearts. This is the destruction of our relationship with God. I exhort you with verse 10:
How long, O God, will the adversary revile, And the enemy spurn Your name forever?
We see the psalmist ask God how long He will allow this to happen but truly the response now lies upon us. How long we will let the enemy rule our hearts and spurn God’s name from within us? You might be reeling from this question and possibly defensive but take an honest look at yourself. Your thoughts, your emotions, your actions…all of them reveal where the enemy still has a hold on you. How long will you let him control you? God has given us a spirit of love, power, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7), so we really have no good excuse to allow it to go on anymore. Verse 11, still accusing God of misconduct says:
Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? From within Your bosom, destroy them!
Since you have the power of God within you, you have the power to destroy the enemy’s control over your heart! The enemy has been overcome and we are now “more than conquerors” in Jesus’ name! Verse 12 begins to remind us who God really is since clearly we have forgotten. He delivers His people (all the time), He destroys monsters and beasts and feeds them to His people, He draws water from the depths of the earth to nourish His people and takes it away when necessary, He has created day and night as well as the seasons. He is the creator of heaven and earth and His Spirit is with us, therefore nothing can be nor has to be against us, unless we give it power over us.
So rise, people of God, and no longer allow the enemy to keep us as if we are defeated because we are victors in Christ. We have been redeemed and are no longer slaves to sin. Let us cast off these old rusty chains that bind us and allow Christ to rule completely in our hearts as our King and Savior!