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praying hands reaching up July 15 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Psalms 75, 77, 80; Isaiah 37:9-38; 2Kings 19:29-37; 2Chronicles 32:21-23; Psalm 76

Saving Prayer

When we are in trouble and there is no way out, what should we do? Pray! In fact, before we get into trouble we should talk to the LORD. What should we say? Psalms is a good book to use as a guide for prayer and praise. Its poetry touches our deepest emotional needs.

We don’t know exactly what the occasion was for the writing of the Psalms in today’s Bible reading. The superscriptions claim they were written by Asaph. He and his descendants were the chief worship leaders of the Levites and composers of Psalms during the time of King David and afterward (1Chronicles 16:4-5; 25:1-2). Psalm 80 may have been written by Asaph's descendants during the time of the Assyrian invasions; only the tribes of Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh are mentioned (Psalm 80:2). There were remnants of these tribes left after the conquering of Israel in 722 B.C. Because of the theme of these songs, they are placed here.

King Sennacherib of Assyria has been threatening Judah. In recent Bible studies, we learned his army destroyed her sister nation, Israel, many other surrounding nations, and even Judean strongholds. Jerusalem is the only formidable city left in Judah.

When King Hezekiah inherits the throne, he cleans up the nation: he removes idols and leads the people to worship the true God, the creator of heaven and earth and Sovereign over all nations. The people, however, worship God in pretense. After a while it seems Hezekiah also fails in his faith; he fails to trust God to save him from Assyria. The king makes alliances with other nations against her. Hezekiah is then plagued with boils which would have ended his life, except for God’s mercy. After King Hezekiah is healed, he and his people turn to God from their sin and pride. Once more they worship God in His temple. However, the mettle of their faith will not be tested by worship but by trials. Hezekiah urges the people to call upon God for help against the King of Assyria.

The tune of Psalm 75 gives a clue to the theme of the song. According to the superscription it was to be sung to the tune of “Do Not Destroy,” (75:1). Obviously, the people of Judah did not want to be destroyed by Assyrian armies. Here is part of the song with commentary in brackets:

We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds. [We can give thanks when we remember that God’s presence is near us in our trials.]

You [God] say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly. When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. <Selah> ” [God is Sovereign and controls the events of the world; therefore, he will judge when the time is right. Even when our world is being shaken, God can give us strength]

To the arrogant I say, “Boast no more,” and to the wicked, “Do not lift up your horns [horns were a symbol of military strength]….I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up” (Psalm 75:1-4,10, NIV).

When the people of Judah face the armies of Assyria, they call out to God. They remember His mercy in previous generations for people who feared Him. If we have been away from God for a while, it is good for us to do the same; it will give us the courage to pray for His help.

As was stated earlier, Judah's sister nation, Israel, had been destroyed. “Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at your rebuke your people perish” (Psalm 80:16, NIV). Because of this, Judah now desires God to restore her relationship with the LORD so Jerusalem can be saved (verse 19).

Do we need to restore our relationship with God? If we do not know Him, we can call on Jesus to be saved from our sins which lead to death. He will give us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (John 3:16; Romans 10:9,10:13; John 1:12). If we already did that but need a restoration of our relationship, we need to humbly confess our sins to God with repentance, and He will restore us (1John 1:9).

Did God defend Judah? Did he save her? God gave an answer to Sennacherib's threats:

“Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!” (2Kings 19:22, NIV)

[You may have won many battles and done what you wished but]

“Have you not heard? Long ago I [the LORD] ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone,” [I, God, allowed you to conquer nations] (2Kings 19:25, NIV).

“'But I know where you stay and when you come and go and how you rage against me. Because you rage against me and your insolence has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came” (2Kings 19:27-28, NIV).

God then gives Hezekiah a sign that the people will again live in the land and be prosperous. That very night, the LORD God annihilates 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp—all the fighting men, and leaders and officers. Sennacherib withdraws to his own country and in 681 B.C. he is assassinated by his sons (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.578).

Psalm 76 speaks of a battle which exalts the name (reputation) of God. He alone won the battle for Jerusalem. This is a Psalm of praise which the people of Judah might have sung following the defeat of Sennacherib.

You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. Valiant men lie plundered, they sleep their last sleep; not one of the warriors can lift his hands. At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? (Psalm 76:4-7, NIV)

God answered their prayers because the king, leaders, priests, and the people of Judah humbled themselves before Him, cried out to Him and desired to be restored. They stopped looking to other nations and their gods to help. They relied only on the God of Israel to save them. The LORD is often pleased to save those who rely totally on Him. Praise God for His deliverance.

Lessons to Live By

  • God’s presence is near us in our trials.
  • The LORD is Sovereign and controls the events of the world; therefore, he will judge when the time is right. Even when our world is being shaken, the LORD can give us strength.
  • If we have been away from the LORD for a while, it is good for us to remember the goodness of God to previous generations; it will give us the courage to pray for His help.
  • Do we need to restore our relationship with God? If we do not know Him, we can call on the LORD to be saved from our sins which lead to death. He will give us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). If we already did that but need a restoration of our relationship, we to humbly confess our sins to God with repentance, and He will restore us (1John 1:9).
  • God is often pleased to save those who rely totally on Him. Praise the LORD for His deliverance.

Focus Verse

Psalm 62:7 (NIV) “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

A Look Ahead: When the storms of life come, Where is our Shelter?

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