Do you ever become angry at the evil and injustice in this world? Psalm 75 is a song celebrating the justice of God. It encourages us to praise God now because one day He will make all things right.
It is likely that Psalm 75 was intentionally designed as a response to Psalm 74 which begins with the question, "How long?" In response, in Psalm 75:2, God declares that He will act "at the set time that I appoint".
One interesting feature is the psalm uses four different forms of address:
- The people praise God - Psalm 75:1
- God addresses His people - Psalm 75:2-3
- God addresses the wicked - Psalm 75:4-5
- The psalmist addresses the people - Psalm 75:6-10
I found that the psalm lays out nicely as four primary sections with sections 2 and 3 dividing into two parts each:
- Praise - Psalm 75:1
- Oracle of God - Psalm 75:2-5
- "I will judge"
- "Do not boast"
- Commentary - Psalm 75:6-8
- God lifts up
- God punishes
- Praise - Psalm 75:9-10
Like so many of the psalms, this can also be seen as a chiastic (mirror-like) structure:
Praise => "I Will Judge" => "Do Not Lift Up" | God Lifts Up <= God Punishes <= Praise
The meaningful center captures the overall theme that, in the end, evil people will be brought down. Only God can lift us up.
For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, Psalm 75:6
We Praise God
The psalm begins with the people praising God. They praise Him for two things:
- Your name is near. "Your name" is a reference to God's glory and fame, but the idea that His name is near reminds us that God is always present with us. We are never alone! Interestingly, "Your name" occurs twice in Psalm 74 (Psalm 74:7 and Psalm 74:18) once again pointing to the possibility that the two psalms are intentionally designed to work together.
- Your wondrous deeds. God is always doing amazing things to accomplish His will in this world, specifically, in this psalm, to execute justice.
If we want to live joyful lives in a sinful world we should start by remembering to praise God. He is always near and He is always working for your good and His glory.
The Oracle of God
In this section God speaks directly, first to His people and then to the wicked.
"I Will Judge"
God declares that He is the judge. He set up the pillars of the universe and He can hold them firm. I don't think God is referring to the physical creation, but rather to the pillars of justice and truth. Only God can look down and decide who to lift up and who to punish.
"Do Not Boast"
God warns the wicked not to boast and not to lift up their "horns". Horns were a metaphor of power and strength most likely referring to the horns of bulls.
In this section the psalmist comments upon the oracle of God.
God Lifts Up
Verse 6-7 continues the metaphor of lifting up begun in the previous section but also takes up the theme of judgement first mentioned at the beginning of the oracle, in verse 2. God is the one who will execute judgement - to lift up or bring down.
I used to think of the word "judgement" as a scary thing, but for God's people it should be something we look forward to. In Christ we are no longer under judgement. So we have no reason to fear.
But all the evils of this world, all the things that we long to see crushed and removed, God is going to make right. And all of the truly evil people, those who live only for themselves and take joy in hurting others, will finally receive recompense for their actions. That is the justice we should look forward to.
Asaph, the psalmist, uses a new metaphor here. He talks about the wine of God's wrath. This metaphor is used in multiple places in scripture. God's justice is pictured as a cup of spiced wine that is given to the wicked. The wicked drink it down becoming so drunk and crazed that they destroy themselves. (See Jeremiah 25:15-16 for example.)
I think God's justice is often like this. Evil feeds upon itself. God allows the sinner to become drunk on sin eventually leading to self-destruction.
I Praise God
The psalm ends as it began - with praise. At the beginning the people praise God. This time it is the psalmist, Asaph, who praises God because God, at the appointed time, will cut off the horns (power/glory) of the wicked and lift up the horns of the righteous.
One day God will make all things just and right.
God is in control.
We like to ask, "How long?" God responds, "I am in control. I made this world and I can sustain it. Trust me. I will make it right at the time I choose."
Do you trust Him enough to praise Him right now - even before you see the good you desire? Even if you don't receive the answer you desire?
Do you trust that God can preserve the pillars of truth and justice and make sure that righteousness wins out in the end? If you do trust Him, then prove it by offering a sacrifice of praise: praise Him even in the midst of trouble.