Psalm 76 is written by Asaph, one of the choir directors during King David’s days. Asaph praises God for His mighty power in this psalm. God destroyed the wicked and delivered His people. This is a testament to all leaders everywhere that they should submit themselves to the leadership of God and follow Him faithfully.
God is known in His City. 76:1-3
God is known in Judah and His name is great in Israel according to the beginning verses of this great hymn. Asaph speaks of how God’s name is known because He has defeated the enemies of His people–His chosen people, Israel. The glow of humble pride, of wonder and thankfulness, is perceptible in the fourfold naming of His great city, Jerusalem. He calls it “Judah, Israel, Salem, and Zion.” All of these names gathered together signify the eloquence of the word “there” in verse three. However, prior to verse three, it speaks of God’s self-revelation to His people. The reason Israel is the object of the acts is because that is where God has chosen to dwell. And since He dwells there, the act of judgment which the psalmist celebrates is performed there.
For whatever time God delivered His people, Asaph hymns his praises after an enemy attacked Jerusalem and was defeated. They were broken by God and ultimately their attacks were unsuccessful. God is known in His city!
God is known to His enemies. 76:4-9
God shines forth as perfect light; for He is Light in all of its perfection and glory. Being resplendent, God illuminates and is glorified wherever He is at all times without limitation. In this hymn, Asaph points out that this glory hails from the lofty heights of the mountains where God sits supreme. He is the great Conqueror and there is no foe that can withstand God. Because this is the case, God subdues the mighty men, puts them to sleep, and they can no longer find their hands to even offer a fight against Almighty God. They are robbed of their might, their weapons, and even their lives. The psalmist is very graphic in this scene that he paints setting before our eyes the process of destruction from its beginning. He shows us the warriors who have fallen in the drowsiness of death. At this point, their might is now quite feeble. With vain struggle these mighty men fought for as long as they could by shooting “lightnings of the bow” against Zion and now they are stiff for evermore. It only takes one word from the lips the God of Jacob, and all the noise of the camp is hushed. We look out at the field of the dead, lying in awful stillness, dreamlessly sleeping their long slumber.
God is to be feared among the nations. No one can stand in His anger. However, in God’s anger resides love as well. It is a blending of anger and love. While no creature can bear the terrible heat of God’s anger, nor endure the weight of His anger, the most awful manifestations thereof have a side of tenderness and an inner purpose of blessing. The core of God’s judgment is mercy. It is worthy of God to destroy those who oppress and to save those who are afflicted–those who not only suffer, but those who also trust in Him. When God makes His judgments to reverberate from on high, earth shall keep an awed silence and stillness, as nature does when thunder peals. At the end of the hideous tumult and the thunderous sound of God’s anger comes silence from all of Creation, but especially from God’s enemies. God is known to His enemies!
God is known by His victories over all. 76:10-12
This final strophe in this great hymn of the faith magnifies God’s name by His treatment of opposing men, who set themselves against Him. While they fume with fury ultimately it is brought down low to His praise. The wrath of mighty men ultimately surround God with praise while His wraths are brought down upon His enemies. This speaks of God’s unfailing wrath against His enemies. God girds Himself with the residue of His own wrath from eternity to time to eternity once again. His wrath–His judgment–has an unexhausted store ready to flame out if need arise. It is a stern and terrible thought to have of God, but it is solemnly a true thought to have. His lovingkindness out-measures man’s, and so does His judicial judgment. All of God’s divine attributes partake of Infinitude and the stores of His punitive anger are not less deep than those of His gentle goodness.
Therefore, man is summoned to make vows to the Lord and to pay their vows. While Israel is called to worship their God, all the nations around them who lie in the fields of the dead, are called to do homage and bring tribute to Him. This shows that Almighty God–the Judge–can cut off the breath of the highest, or can cut down their pride, as a grape-gatherer does the ripe cluster. Knowing this then brings the kings of all the nations to fear the King of kings: God Almighty–the Judge! God is known by His victories over all!