Psalm 74:8

They said in their hearts,
“Let us oppress them relentlessly.”
They burned every place throughout the land
where God met with us.
-Psalm 74:8
Titles for Psalm 74

Prayer for Israel
A Plea for Relief from Oppressors
We Need You Now
Plea for Help in Time of National Humiliation
A Prayer for National Deliverance
Arise, O God, Defend Your Cause
A Prayer for the Nation in Times of Trouble
A Nation in Trouble Prays
Psalm 74 is a Maskil of Asaph.

The word is derived from a verb meaning “to be prudent; to be wise.” Various options are: “a contemplative song,” “a song imparting moral wisdom,” or “a skillful [i.e., well-written] song.”
Pss 32, 42, 44, 45, 47:7, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89, and 142.
Richard Thompson

Who was Asaph?
Asaph was a young priest from the tribe of Levi, when David brought the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem in about 1000 to 995 BC. His father, Berekiah was appointed Doorkeeper of the Ark.
Asaph was so talented that David put him in charge of the music before the Ark of the Covenant. He was assisted there by his brother Zechariah. He was probably in his twenties at the time.

Asaph was in charge of the music in Jerusalem where the Ark and the King were.
We know that Asaph kept that position at least until the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem almost forty years later. At that time the worship services of the Tent of Meeting and the Tabernacle were consolidated in the Temple.
Asaph served in Jerusalem for all of David's reign, and no doubt set to music, many of the Psalms that God gave David.

He saw the death of David, the accession of Solomon, and the building of the Temple. He thought he was standing on the verge of Israel's Millenium.
After Solomon's dedication of the Temple, Asaph saw Israel's "golden age" turn into something quite apart from what he expected.

Asaph saw Solomon become a wicked man who entrusted the administration of his Kingdom to other wicked men.
After Solomon's death,... ...the Egyptians invaded, along with Israel's neighbors, took Jerusalem, burned and stripped the Temple, killed many of the priests, and left, mocking Israel, and Israel's God.
In the winter of his years Asaph surveyed the wreckage of his hopes. The Kingdom was destroyed, the Temple was in ruins, many of his own family had been killed.

If there was ever a man who had an excuse for being disillusioned, Asaph was that man.
Yet, through it all, Asaph finds God's faithfulness a strong tower of hope.

Psalms 74 and 79 reflect Asaph's distress at the invasion of Shishak the king of Egypt. Asaph was an old man of at least a hundred years old when he wrote many of his Psalms.
They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
-Psalm 74:8

The only time Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a date into his Bible, was here in Psalm 74, which was the day the Nazi’s started burning synagogues. Nov 9, 1938
David A. R. Clark (DC)
The Sunday following Kristallnacht, Bonhoeffer had no pulpit from which to preach a sermon. He made no public comment.
He wrote a letter on Nov. 20th, in which he said, "In the last few days, I have thought much about Ps 74, Zech 2:8, Rom 9:4-5, +11:11-15.
...That leads me deeply into prayer."

In 1935, Bonhoeffer delivered a lecture, "Christ in the Psalms". He considered the tension that a psalm is both the divine word of God and a human prayer to God.
"How can the prayerful word of the church-community simultaneously also be God's word?", he asked.
"God as the one praying and God as the one answering the prayer, is only resolved in Jesus Christ."

"Christ is the supplicant in the Psalter."
Steve and Walt Westerholm:
What matters to him the most is that Christ is to be heard in every psalm.
"The whole Psalter can be understood as the prayer of Jesus Christ."
The frame of reference for interpreting the Psalms becomes Christ himself, since "what becomes important now is that we understand and pray together these psalms as the prayers of Jesus Christ in his church-community." -Bonhoeffer

Life Together '38
Prayerbook of the Bible '40
Bonhoeffer did not claim merely that certain psalms prefigure Christ or find their full meaning in Christ, but instead made the more radical claim that all psalms must be interpreted as the very prayers of Christ.
And more importantly for the purpose of analyzing his Kristallnacht annotation, Bonhoeffer emphasized the need to hear the suffering Christ as the voice speaking in the psalms of suffering, revealing Christ's presence amid contemporary suffering, lamentation and abandonment.
Patrick D. Miller, Bonhoeffer and the Psalms

"There came to [Bonhoeffer] this shattering awareness of the loneliness of the despairing Jews in the pogrom over 2000 years before when the Babylonians destroyed the temple and deported the people",
"the burden of a solidarity he felt with the despairing cries of the Jews on that Crystal Night of the later pogrom."
Barry Harvey, Taking Hold of the Real: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Profound Worldliness of Christianity

"Bonhoeffer uses figural exegesis to posit a real connection grounded in the revelatory activity of God in Christ btween the people and events narrated in the Old Testament..
...and those in the Germany of his day. Through these interpretations he endeavors to show the way that these people and events, separated in time and space, nonetheless belong together as two aspects of a single economy or pattern orchestrated around the one
...divine utterance made in Christ. Though events never repeat themselves identically, there is the contention that a nonidentical repetition is at work in God's redemptive activity in the world, a repetition articulated through typological interpretation."
Quoting Jeremy Worthen, Praying the Psalms

"When Bonhoeffer reads Psalm 74 in the context of Kristillnacht, the subject of the psalm is not merely 'some ancient Israelites', but indeed, 'might be extended to include the Jewish people', of 1938."


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