Asking God to Remember
Open Your Bible
Psalm 73:1-28, Psalm 74:1-23
While Book III contains threads of hope, it is often labeled as the “dark” book of the Psalter because of its focus on lament.
During these last few months, the news at all levels—global, national, and local—has been hard, from briefings on shootings to wars to public health crises to the impact of inflation. As I’ve processed all of this, my prayers have been made up of short sentences that carry a myriad of emotions: confusion, anger, grief, uncertainty, and the list goes on. Reading through the book of Psalms has come along at just the right time, as I sit with all that is going on around me.
As we move from the second collection of Psalms to the third, the overall tone changes to one of somberness. The psalms curated in Book III reflect some pretty difficult days in Israel’s history, where the nation’s actions, including David’s descendants, led to judgment from the Lord and oppression from other nations. Although the psalmists do not explicitly name the events, the content of their prayers reveals that they were dealing with some pretty heavy circumstances. Out of these circumstances, the psalmists poured their hearts out to the Lord. This is the case In Psalm 74, as Asaph pleads with God to remember His people.
Remember your congregation, which you purchased long ago and redeemed as the tribe for your own possession. —Psalm 74:2
I can only imagine the timbre of the singer’s voice as he asks God to turn His attention to His people. Or the combination of major and minor keys that may have been accented by vocal growling or moaning to express deep emotions. There’s a lot of emphasis placed on remembrance in this psalm. Obviously, God isn’t being asked to remember because He has physically forgotten some detail or event. Asaph is asking God to turn His attention toward His people and act on their behalf.
“Why do you hold back your hand?” Asaph asks God in verse 11. How bold, and frankly, irreverential this question seems. And yet, it remains in the canon of Scripture, showing us—maybe even challenging us—that we can be completely honest in our communication with the Lord. We can express our disappointment, our wrestling, our grief, and other responses to what’s going on in life. And when we cry out to God, we come to Him from a place of trust, knowing that He, our all-powerful King (Psalm 74:12) is the only One we can turn to.
These psalms have reminded me that God’s presence is a safe space for our prayers. Sometimes they’re moderate and quiet. Sometimes they’re rough and guttural, laden with passion and emotion. Whatever the posture, our God is faithful in listening as we pour out our hearts to Him.