The psalmist complains of the desolation of Jerusalem, 1-7. He prays for deliverance, 8-12; and promises thankfulness, 13.
1 [A Psalm of Asaph.] O God, the heathen have come into your inheritance. They have defiled your holy temple. They have laid Jerusalem on heaps.
2 They have given the dead bodies of your servants to be food for the birds of the heaven, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth.
3 They have shed their blood like water around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.
4 We have become a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and derision to those who are around us.
5 How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever? Shall your jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out your wrath upon the heathen who have not known you and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon your name.
7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his dwelling-place.
8 O do not hold former iniquities against us. Let your tender mercies speedily succor us, for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name, and deliver us and purge away our sins for your name's sake.
10 Why should the heathen say, "Where is their God?" Let him be known among the heathen in our sight by avenging the blood of your servants which is shed.
11 Let the sighing of the prisoner come before you. According to the greatness of your power preserve those who are appointed to die.
12 And render to our neighbors seven-fold into their bosom their reproach with which they have reproached you, O Lord.
13 So we your people and sheep of your pasture will give you thanks forever. We will show forth your praise to all generations.
Matthew Henry Commentary - Psalms, Chapter 79[➚]
John Calvin's Chapter Summary:
This is a complaint and lamentation of the Church when severely afflicted; in which, while the faithful bewail their miserable and, in one sense, undeserved calamities, and accuse their enemies of cruelty, they acknowledge that, in another sense, they have been justly chastised, and humbly betake themselves to the divine mercy. Their confidence of obtaining this, they rest chiefly upon the fact, that they saw God's dishonor conjoined with their calamities, inasmuch as the ungodly, in oppressing the Church, blasphemed his sacred name.