Where were you on Sept 11,2001? Most people over the age of 30 vividly remember planes flying into the World Trade Towers in New York City and the Pentagon. We remember audio from Flight 93 as the plane was turned towards Washington DC, targeting either the Capitol Building or the White House. Shock, horror, fear, anger, burst forth all at once.
Asaph, a singer in the Temple court of Israel watched as an enemy devastated Jerusalem and desecrated the Temple of the God of Israel. He sings of his fear, anger, frustration, and shock.
Asaph wonders aloud, “How long will this go on, O Lord? Will you stay angry forever? How long will your rage burn like fire?” (Psalm 79:5, NET). Though Asaph could point to a specific example – the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian army; though we can point to events like 9/11/01 – all of us experience seasons that cause us to ask the same question – How long, O Lord?
Two notable features of this song. First, notice the pronouns Asaph uses –
“O God, foreigners have invaded your chosen land; they have polluted your holy temple and turned Jerusalem into a heap of ruins. They have given the corpses of your servants to the birds of the sky; the flesh of your loyal followers to the beasts of the earth.” (Psalm 79:1–2, NET).
Second, the psalmist sings, “Help us, O God, our deliverer! For the sake of your glorious reputation, rescue us! Forgive our sins for the sake of your reputation!” (Psalm 79:9, NET) His concern is not with the nation’s reputation nor the standing of the servants.
When we ask, How long O Lord, are we asking for God to protect His reputation or ours?