- A psalm of Asaph.1
Israel is dead and God is gone
- 1 God, foreigners have stolen your land,
Defiled your Temple,
And decimated Jerusalem to a pile of rocks.
- 2 They have fed the bodies of your people
To the birds of the sky and the animals of earth.
- 3 Blood covers Jerusalem like water from rain.
And there’s no one to bury the dead.
- 4 We’re a picture of shame to the world.
We’re the butt of jokes to our neighbors.
- 5 How long are you going to keep this up, LORD?
Are you going to stay mad forever?
Has your jealousy blown up into wildfire?
God, avenge us
- 6 Concentrate your anger on those who don’t know you,
On kingdoms that don’t call you by name.
- 7 They have fed on our nation
And devastated our home.
- 8 Don’t punish us for the sins of our parents.
We need your help, and now.
We’re down and out and low as dirt.
- 9 You’re the God who saves us. Help us now.
Save us in honor of who you are
Forgive us the sins we’ve committed.
Forgive us to honor who you are.
- 10 Don’t let nations get by with saying,
“Where on earth did their God go?”
Show the nations there’s blood to pay
To avenge the blood that your people shed.
- 11 Please listen to the groaning of the prisoners.
Use your great power to save.
Let those sentenced to die
Find reprieve and a long life ahead.
- 12 As for our neighbor who insulted you, Lord,
Pay them back seven times what they spent
On their taunting and trash-talking you.
- 13 Only then can your people,
The sheep of your flock,
Sing praise to you forever.
Then we’ll honor you, Lord,
For all generations to come.
The subtitle wasn’t part of the original psalm. And the possible byline “of Asaph,” isn’t necessarily a byline. The vague phrase could mean the song was written by Asaph, about Asaph, or was inspired by Asaph. Asaph led a musical family in the tribe of Levi, one of the 12 tribes that made up the original nation of Israel. Levite families worked as priests and worship leaders and worship assistants for the Jewish nation. Asaph was a leader of worship music during the time of King David (1 Chronicles 16:5). His family carried on the musical tradition, showing up five centuries later, when a Jewish man named Nehemiah, in the 500s BC, helped rebuild Jerusalem after Babylonian invaders from what is now Iraq leveled Jerusalem in 586 BC. This psalm reads like the blues—like someone grieving over the fall of Jerusalem, and wanting both help and payback.