Andrews University Seminary Studies 21.3 (Autumn 1983) 211-223.

          Copyright © 1983 by Andrews University Press.  Cited with permission.








                               GRAEME E. SHARROCK

                                       Chicago, Illinois




            Ps 74 is not an easy psalm to translate or interpret. This article

approaches the task through an inductive analysis of the structure

of the text, in the process of which a fresh translation is also

provided. It then focuses on the significance of the structure for

three themes: religious rhetoric in times of national crisis; the self-

identity of the community; and concern for the name of God.


                        1. The Literary Structure of the Psalm


            My investigation of the structure of the psalm as given herein

will include these steps: determining the basic structure, analyzing

the relationship between structure and content, and then interpret-

ing the role of structure for the total meaning of the psalm.


Determining the Basic Structure

            By structure1 I mean the "inherent framework"2 of the psalm

which arises to the reader's view from a close analysis of the text.

Such a framework may or may not be evident at first reading. It can

seldom be reduced to a mere "outline," as is attempted by most

commentaries.3 The emergent pattern must be multi-dimensional;


            1 This approach is to be differentiated from both form-critical and structuralist

approaches. The form-critical scholar is primarily interested in correlating texts

with pre-supposed social situations from which the literature may have arisen. The

newer structuralist method focuses on binary structures of the mind and their

manifestation in the text. My concern is rather the literary-structural shape of the


            2 Rolf Knierim, "Old Testament Form-Criticism Reconsidered," Int 27 (1973):


            3 Although many commentators consider it too problematical to give an outline

for our psalm, some have tried. L. Sabourin, The Psalms: Their Origin and

Meaning (New York, n.d.) 2: 151-152, simply divides at vs. 12. A. Weiser, Psalms

(Philadelphia, 1962), pp. 518-520, emphasizes the contrast between Elohim and the



212                             GRAEME E. SHARROCK


pathos and movement must be charted along with the more static

elements of the text.

            How do we begin to describe the structure of a text? The first

step is familiarity, achieved both by reading and by hearing the text

read. Certain features—figures, ideas, metaphors, metre—will be-

come evident. The observant reader will be alert to the presence

and placement of words and phrases, along with variations in the

pace and intensity of the text. Particular attention should be given

to the verbal pattern, because the action words in any language

carry both meaning and movement.

            In analyzing structure, it is important to recognize that various

types of pattern are possible. The interpreter must take care not to

superimpose a pattern that is alien to the text itself, and then try to

compensate for the ill-fit by emending the text and restructuring

the stanzas!

            In the following examination of Ps 74, it is the verbal pattern

that will first claim our attention. Not only do the verbs dominate

by their position and power, but they can be easily divided accord-

ing to tense into five consecutive groups. With attention to the

primary or initial verb of each line, we can group the verses of

Ps 74 in this way:

            1-3      Imperatives (apart from introductory complaint)

            4-9      Perfects (with supplementary imperfect in vs. 9)

            10-11  Imperfects

            12-17  Perfects (with supplementary imperfect in vs. 14)

            18-23 Imperatives (and supporting jussives, etc.)


            If we reduce the pattern to main verbs only, the possibility of a

chiastic or mirror-structured psalm emerges:4


enemy. C. Briggs, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms

(Edinburgh, 1907), 2: 150-151, prefers three parts—each consisting of three tetrameter

tetrastichs—, but relies heavily on the presence of supposed glosses. E. J. Kissane,

The Book of Psalms (Dublin, 1964), pp. 329-331, chooses four strophes of six verses:

1-5, 6-11, 12-17, 18-23.

            4 For discussion and examples of chiastic literary constructions in biblical

literature, see, e.g., N. W. Lund, "The Presence of Chiasmus in the Old Testament,"

AJSL 46 (1930): 104-126; idem, Chiasmus in the New Testament (Chapel Hill, N.C.,

1942). On the psalms, see the studies of Robert L. Alden, "Chiastic Psalms: A Study

                      PSALM 74                                         213


            A. Imperatives

                        B. Perfects

                                    C. Imperfects

                        B'. Perfects

            A'. Imperatives


            The result is an inverted symmetrical structure in which the

imperative paragraphs (A and A') introduce and conclude the

psalm, the perfect verbs (B and B') develop some concrete actions

in the psalm, and the central verses (C) form the central axis,

pointing back to the earlier sections and forward to the subsequent


            In the next stage we examine the fit between the verbal

structure and the contents of the psalm.


Relationship of Structure and Content

            If we overlay the linguistic features and content of the psalm

on the skeleton above, the result is a symmetrical but dynamic

structure in which individual features can be seen as contributary

to the whole. The composition is complex and yet clearly co-

ordinated, with minimal interplay between motifs until the final

paragraph and climax.

            We now translate and examine each paragraph, noting its theme,

subjects, and mood. Between each paragraph lies the significant

literary device of a "hinge" which formally links part to part.


                                                A: Vss. 1-3

           JsAxAl; lyKiW;ma1       A Maskil of Asaph

Hcan,lA TAH;nazA Myhilox< hmAlA               Why, 0 Elohim, are you perpetually

 :j`t,yfir;ma NxcoB; j~P;xa Nwaf;y,         angry?5 Why do your nostrils smoke

                                                            against the sheep of your pasture?


in the Mechanics of Semitic Poetry in Psalms 1-50," JETS 17 (1974): 11-28, and

sequels JETS 19 (1976): 191-200; 21 (1978): 199-210.

            5 A study of this word in its Qal form does not support the usual rendering, "to

reject, spurn, abandon." Most OT uses are intransitive like the Akkadian verb zenu,

referring to a state, not an action requiring an object. See R. Yaron, "The Meaning

of ZANAH," VT 13 (1963): 237-239.

214                             GRAEME E. SHARROCK


Md,q, tAyniqA j~t;dAfE rkoz;                   2          Remember your congregation, acquired

j~t,lAHEna Fb,we TAl;xaGA                 of old! Redeem your inheritance, Mt.

:OB TAn;kawA hz,                           Zion where you dwelt!

Hcan, tOxwu.mal; j~ym,fAP; hmAyrihA       3          Lift up your feet6 toward the perpetual

:wd,qo.Ba byeOx frahe-lKA              ruins! Every evil doer is in the sanc-



            The initial approach to Elohim is in question form, and serves

as an introduction to the whole psalm. The tone then quickly

moves with the urgent imperatives—"Remember! ... Redeem! .. .

Lift up! . . ." —to the most direct form of address possible. The

subjects of the plaint are the people of God and the place of sacred

presence, a dual motif which extends throughout the psalm. The

first paragraph thus introduces all the characters and emotion of

the drama, with a plea for intervention.

            The final colon (vs. 3b) thematically links the first and second

paragraphs by juxtaposing the offenders and the plaintiffs and

announcing the subject of the second paragraph.


                                                B: Vss. 4-9

j~d,fEOm br,q,B; j~yr,r;co UgxEwA    4          The adversaries roared in the middle

:tOtxo MtAtOOx UmWA                of your assembly; they set up their

                                ensigns (for signs).7

hlAf;mAl; xybimeK; fdaUAyi         5          They slashed like a man who goes up

:tOm.Dur;qa Cfe-j`bAsEBi                with an axe into a thicket of trees;8

dHayA. hAyH,UTPi TAfav;             6          and then all its carved work they

:NUmlohEya tPolaykev; lywi.kaB;            smashed with hatchet and axes.


            6 The Hiphil imperative "Lift up!" is clear, but the object is debated. Dahood

assumes the addition of the yodh due to the unfamiliarity of the Massoretes with pa

as a conjunction. F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Psalms (Edinburgh,

1873) 2: 329, paraphrases, "May God then lift His feet up high ... i.e. with long

hurried steps, without stopping, move towards His dwelling-place that now lies in

ruins, that by virtue of His interposition it may rise again."

            7 The second colon is generally considered corrupt and untranslatable. Weiser

refuses to translate the final word and all of vss. 5-6. Dahood redivides the

consonants and translates "emblems by the hundreds." See P. R. Ackroyd, "Some

Notes on the Psalms," JTS 17 (1966): 392.

            8 The verses here are considered as being among the most difficult in the entire

                          PSALM 74                                         215


j~w,DAq;mi wxebA UHl;wi           7          They have burned your sanctuary com-

:j~m,w;-NKaw;mi Ull;.Hi Cr,xAlA            pletely;9 they desecrated the dwelling-

                                                                        place of your name.

dHayA MnAyni MBAlib; Urm;xA        8          They said in their hearts, "We will

:Cr,xABA lxe-ydefEOm-lkA Upr;WA         utterly destroy!" They burned all the

                                assemblies of El in the land.10

dOf-Nyxe UnyxirA xlo UnytetoOx    9          Our signs" we have not seen; there is

                        xybinA                 no one among us who knows "Until

            :hmA-dfa fadeyo UnTAxi-xlov;       when?"


            The attention of Elohim is now directed to the enemies who

have ravaged the sanctuary. The citation of destructive acts is not


Psalter, with no definitive translation possible. The difficulty begins immediately

with yiwada, a rarer form from the verb "to know." However, the context provides

no object, and the concept of knowing is not congruent with the sense which would

favor an act, preferably violent. Here we follow Bardtke's text in Biblia Hebraica,

where he emends to yigde'u, "they smash/break in pieces."

            The phrase "who goes up" from the Hiphil fem. sing. Part. poses a problem of

gender, but the meaning is clear. See J. A. Emerton, "Notes on Three Passages in

Psalms Book III," JTS 14 (1963): 2. Also cf. Jgs 9:48; Neh 8:15; Isa 40:16.

            The second colon contains a hapax legomenon where the clearest member is

"tree." I understand the bicolon as a simile in which a man goes up a hillside into a

thicket of trees with axes to chop them down. In Zech 11:2ff. the felling of trees,

sounds of lions roaring, and the misfortune of the flock are again combined. See

also Isa 10:33-34 and Jer 46:22.

            9 The literal rendering is "to the ground"—an idiom meaning "completely" or


            10 Dahood reads, ". . . let all their progeny be burned, all the divine assemblies

in the land," but this assumes some equation between "progeny" and "assemblies."

B. D. Erdman, The Hebrew Book of Psalms (Leiden, 1947), p. 354, proposes that

"all the younger generation, the offspring of the oppressors, will believe that all the

places of assembly of El have been burned up." This would require the fusion of

two cola into one, and force an unnecessary future sense upon the text. As Delitzsch,

p. 329, notes, the Qal fut. of sargu equals the Hiphil hunah "to force, oppress." See

also Num 21:30 and Exod 24:19.

            11 Although straightforward in the MT, this verse is a crux interpretum. The 3d-

person masc. pl. suffix on "signs" is not to be overlooked, as is done by some

interpreters. "Our signs" is to be contrasted with "their signs" in vs. 4. See J. J. M.

Roberts, "Of Signs, Prophets and Time Limits: A Note on Psalm 74:9," CBQ 39

(1967): 481.

216                             GRAEME E. SHARROCK


merely an indictment of the violent invaders; it is designed to incite

Elohim to avenging action; it is his sanctuary and assemblies that

have been harried.

            Vs. 9 serves both as a verbal and dramatic link to the next

paragraph. Not only is there already a transition from "they" to

"we," but the single phrase "Until when?" is immediately repeated

at the start of C.


                                                C: Vss. 10-11

rcA Jr,HAy; Myhilox< ytamA-dfa     10        Until when, 0 Elohim, will the adver-

:Hcan,lA j~m;wi byeOx CxenAy;             sary revile? Will the enemy deride your

                                                                        name forever?

j~d;yA bywitA hmA.lA              11        Why do you draw back your hand,

:hl.eka j~q;vHe br,q,.mi j~n,ymiyvi           even your right hand from the middle

                                                                        of your assembly?12


            The pivotal paragraph of the psalm refocuses the major issue

by the use of direct questions which recall both previous para-

graphs (A and B). The subjects there are now presented in the light

of a new motive: Elohim's possible concern for his own name. This

move from the extrinsic to the intrinsic requires reflection on part

of the deity, heightening the psychological engagement of the

psalm. The threat to reputation is presented as a greater danger

than the accomplished destructions, as a more urgent basis of the

appeal for salvation.

            This section itself is the hinge of the whole psalm in its

synthesis of prior arguments and its anticipation of A'. However,

the simple waw at the beginning of vs. 12 acts as a paragraph

connector—a rare occurrence in this psalm.


            12 The first colon is clear, but the middle word of the line could be placed in

either colon. Does God keep his hand in the fold of his garment instead of laying it

upon his enemies in destruction (cf. Exod 4:6ff; Isa 52:10; Lam 2:8), as most

translations suggest? The LXX and versions misread or emend huqka to mean

your bosom." See also Ezra 8:18, Ps 80:18, and Isa 50:2 in support of "hand" in a

favorable sense.

                           PSALM 74                                         217


                                                B': Vss. 12-17

Md,q,.mi yKil;ma Myhiloxve         12        Yet, 0 Elohim, you have been my13

:Cr,xAhA br,q,B; tOfUwy; lfePo          king from of old; performing deliver-

                                ances in the middle of the land:

MyA j~z.;fAb; TAr;raOp hTAxa         13        You split14 Yam with your strength;

:Myim.Ah-lfa Myniyni.ta ywexrA TAr;Bawi       you shattered the heads of Tanninim

                                                                        upon the waters.

NtAyAv;li ywexrA TAc;ca.ri hTAxa       14        You15 crushed the heads of Leviathan,

Myyi.cil; MfAl; lkAxEma Un.n,T;Ti      and gave them as food to the people

                                                                        of the desert.

lHanAvA NyAf;ma TAf;qabA hTAxa       15        You cleaved spring and stream; you

:NtAyxe tOrhEna TAw;baOh hTAxa           dried up the perennial rivers.16

hlAy;lA j~l;-Jxa MOy j~l;         16        To you belongs the day, yet more to

:wm,wAvA rOxmA tAOnykihE hTAxa           you belongs the night; you established

                                                                        luminary and sun.17


            13 The suffix is changed to "our king" in the Syriac, but reflects the commu-

nity's later use of the psalm rather than any textual variant.

            14 The translation of porreta is hotly disputed. Some have seen here the division

of the Red Sea (Exod 14:21), but since the work of H. Gunkel, the mythological

reading has strongly influenced commentators. Although "divide" is the common

translation, the root means "to cleave/break." The object is yam, a surprising form,

when the poetic use is more often plural, as in the second colon. It is probably a

personification, hence my translation.

            15 The emphatic personal pronoun is used seven times to emphasize the subject

of the actions.

            16 "Cleaved" is used of the dividing of the Sea in Exod 14:16, Ps 78:13, Isa 63:12,

etc., but whether it is to be used so here is unclear. The context and other parallels

(Ps 89:11; Isa 51:9; Job 27:12-13) suggest rather a hostile action. However, is "spring

and stream" a suitable object? The parallelism of cola suggests a reference to the sea,

perhaps the ocean currents and subterranean channels from which the forces of

chaos rush up, as in Gen 7:11. See H. Gunkel, Genesis (Gottingen, 1901), pp. 70,

132. Emerton, "'Spring and Torrent' in Psalm LXXIV.15," VT, Suppl. Volume du

Congres Geneve, 1965, suggests instead that "the whole of Ps. Ixxiv.15 describes the

removal of the primeval waters from the earth. God cleft open springs so that the

water might descend through them."

            17 "Luminary" probably refers to moon. God thus establishes his dominion over

both light and dark zones at creation. See Isa 40:26ff.

218                             GRAEME E. SHARROCK


Cr,xA tOlUbG;-lKA TAb;ca.hi hTAxa   17        You appointed all the boundaries of

:MTAr;cay; hTAxa Jr,HvA Cyiqa             the earth; summer and winter—you

                                                                        formed them.18


            What a transformation of tone! God is now addressed with the

emphatic pronoun; his "deliverances" are recited in an ancient

hymn; the very initial vocative erases the previous tone of com-

plaint—an affirmation of faith in the context of perplexity. The

psalmist wishes to stimulate confidence in Elohim's present ability

to defeat the enemies of the nation.

            A subtle but deliberate link between B' and A' is provided by

the word play upon horep, "winter" in vs. 17 and herep, "revile"

in vs. 18.


                                                A': Vss. 18-23

hvAhy; Jr,He byeOx txzo-rkAz;      18        Remember this!19 The enemy has re-

:j~m,w; UcxEni lbAnA Mfav;               viled Yahweh; and a foolish people

                                                                        has spurned your name.20

j~r,OT wp,n, tya.Hal; NTeTi-lxa      19        Do not give the life of your dove to a

:Hcan,lA HKaw;ti-lxa j~yy,.nifE ty.aHa         wild animal; Do not forget the soul of

                                                                        your afflicted ones!

Uxl;mA yKi tyriB;la FBeha        20        Consider your covenant,21 for the dark

:smAHA tOxn; Cr,x,-yKewaHEma            places of the land are full of violent


MlAk;ni j`Da bwoyA-lxa           21        Do not let the ashamed sit oppressed!22

:j~m,w; Ull;hay; NOyb;x,v; ynifA            Let the afflicted and miserable praise

                                                                        your name!23


            18 This is a classic chiastic construction in which the very sounds of the words

create an aesthetic balance—a fitting conclusion to the sevenfold paeon. Perhaps the

verse reflects a polemic against the season-based Baal cycle.

            19 The initial verb is to be repointed as an imperative, as in vs. 2.

            20 This synonymous parallelism forms an inclusio or envelope around the hymn

(B') with the same idea in vs. 10.

            21 Dahood redivides the syllables, replacing "covenant" with "temple," but this

seems unnecessary. The real difficulty is with the rest of the verse, where the syntax

is unclear and the metre undefined. I assume that the subordinate clause is designed

to provide a motive for God to "Consider the covenant."

            22 The command is either "Do not (let) return" or "do not (let) sit, dwell." The

Syriac seems to be correct in interpreting the practice as part of a mourning ritual.

            23 The second colon is parallel to the first, but states the thought positively. The


                            PSALM 74                                         219


j~b,yri hbAyri Myhilox< hmAUq 22        Arise, 0 Elohim, and plead your

:MOy.ha-lKA lbAnA-yni.mi j~t;PAr;H, rkoz;      case!24 Remember that your insult

                                                                        comes from the foolish one daily!

j~yr,r;co lOq HKaw;Ti-lxa         23        Do not forget the voice of your adver-

:dymitA hl,fo j~ym,qA NOxw;            saries, the uproar25 of your opponents

                                                                        which arises continually!


            The abrupt movement from the hymn of acclamation in B' to

the intense appeal for deliverance in A' is striking. No room

appears to be allowed for denial of the urgent pleas of the psalmist.

The direct entreaty recapitulates the previous appeals and synthe-

sizes the incentives. In the structure it corresponds to A (note the

use of "Remember!" as the initial imperative), but it also in-

corporates thematic threads from B ("Enemy"/"enemies," "roar"/

"uproar") and C ("adversary"/"adversaries," "your name,"

"enemy," "revile"/"scorn," etc.). Elohim's anticipated reaction is a

response to blasphemies of the oppressor, the pleadings of the

oppressed, and the dishonor done to the divine name.


The Role of Structure for the Total Meaning of the Psalm

            The third step in describing the structure of the psalm ex-

amines the less obvious but integral movements within the psalm

which further endorse our proposed analysis and suggest an inter-

pretive stance.

            The general structure outlined above highlights five distinct

but related paragraphs. Each exhibits its own predominant verbal

tense, mood, and sentence type; yet, assisted by the editorial link-

ages, the psalm moves toward a crescendo of intensity.


chiastic construction of the verse demonstrates the anticipated movement from

depression to delight:

            Do NOT LET sit . . . ashamed, oppressed;

                                                afflicted, miserable

            Do LET praise your name.

            24 The verb and noun cognates ribah ribeka have no English equivalent, but the

theme is familiar to OT readers as the legal idiom of the lawsuit. Yahweh's response

is conceived to be shaped by the covenant procedures, hence the appeal in vs. 20.

            25 "Uproar" may be compared with "roared" in vs. 4 on onomatopoeic as well

as lexical grounds.

220                             GRAEME E. SHARROCK


            The chiastic structure of the psalm suggests a mode of inter-

pretation in which the paragraphs may be seen as wholes in

relation to other sections. If we first examine A, C, and A', we

detect a common form of plaintive address that is not shared by B

and B'. Here the main thread of the psalm centers around the

religious, political, and psychological consequences of the work of

the enemy. The direct appeal to Elohim employed here is rare in

the OT; the urgent imperatives are near the edge of the human

capacity of language. The interrogatives of C advance into cries of

desperation in A'. Although A' recapitulates the imperatives of A,

the intensification is obvious.

            The two intermediary paragraphs B and B' serve a contrasting

purpose. Each group of six verses is a catalog of actions in the

perfect tense, yet these stand in antithetical relation to each other:

the enemy's acts of destruction are "answered" by Yahweh's de-

liverances. Although the verbs in each paragraph are clearly strong

and active, not one of the actions of the enemy is predicated of

Yahweh, or vice versa. J. P. M. van der Ploeg notices this contrast,

but concludes that it is not certain whether in the psalmist's mind

this was intentional."26 However, the structural opposition of B

and B' forces us to favor deliberate construction.

            The hymn of Yahweh's deliverances in B' may then be seen as

a negation of the account of the enemy's work. In so doing, it is

first of all a statement of faith—transcending present religious

bewilderment by recourse to the supra-historical understanding of

God as "King"—which attends the entreaty sections, A, C, and A'.

It is also a sermon (we assume the psalm was composed and

communicated to the community in public prayer) in which the

psalmist seeks to alleviate religious anxieties by recalling traditions

which preceded the existence of the sanctuary. Finally, the hymn as

addressed to God himself urges the Divine One to demonstrate

again his superiority over all evil and mortal sacrilegious forces, to

pitch his creative power in a radical demonstration of antithesis to

the destructive rampages of the enemy.


            26 J. P. M. sin der Ploeg, "Psalm 71 and Its Structurce," in Travels in the World

of the Old Testament:. Studies Presented to Professor M. A. Beek on the occasion of

His 65th Birthday (Asses. 1974). p. 209.

                      PSALM 74                                         221


            With this foregoing overview of the structure in relationship

to the total meaning of the psalm, we are ready to note further the

three themes mentioned earlier—religious rhetoric in times of

national crisis, the self-identity of the community, and concern for

the name of God.


                        2. Prominent Themes in the Psalm


Religious Rhetoric

            What I have stated above about B and B' reveals that these

sections serve a distinctly rhetorical purpose, especially as the

hymn in B' simultaneously speaks hope to the worshippers and

elicits help from God. Once the hymn is stated, the psalmist

returns to the present crisis, but is now himself reinforced with a

stronger sense of both the urgency and the possibility of Elohim's

response. His questions are replaced with a holy courage that

relentlessly pushes the psalm to a crescendo—and then a severe


            Thus, the placement of paragraphs B and B' serves a clear

rhetorical function in the total address: In the mind of the congre-

gation, Elohim's salvations now displace the destructions of the

enemy; but, recited as a hymn to Elohim, they also appeal to God

to "live up to his name."


Self-Concept of the Community

            Our second theme examines the status and self-concept of a

community bereft of their house of worship and ritual apparatus

and oracles—and hence, also of their national and religious con-

fidence. The petition is much more than a mere personal com-

plaint, as the "we" continually indicates. Several figures are used

for the community's self-designation, but the animal imagery—

"sheep" and "dove"—is the most vivid.

            In A and A' the movement within this imagery is most

marked. The sheep metaphor is the conventional rural image of the

relation between God and people immortalized in David's Twenty-

third Psalm.27 There the leadership of God is expressed, but here,


            27 See also Ezek 34.

222                             GRAEME E. SHARROCK


in A (vs. 1) Elohim seems to snort at, rather than succor, the flock.

            The counterpart in A' only partly resolves the question. The

people no longer see themselves as a domestic herd resting "in

green pastures ... beside the still waters" under the watchful,

benevolent care of a divine shepherd. Rather, they are the innocent,

defenseless, and pathetic dove about to fall prey to vicious carni-

vores: "Do not give the life of your dove to a wild animal!" The

people, like the bird, are "your" possession as King of creation, as

the one who had power to crush Leviathan (vs. 14) and the Sea

Monster (vs. 13).

            In this way, the intervening hymn has transformed the image

of God from shepherd of the domestic flock to Lord of the total

animate creation. The self-designation of the community is like-

wise adjusted. The metaphor is heightened, the appeal made more



The Name of God

            Our third theme for interpretation in light of the psalm's

structure is the "name" of God. Far more than mere appellation,

the name is a metonym for the total character, presence, reputation,

and authority of God. As the sanctuary in Jerusalem was the

acclaimed "dwelling-place of your name" (vs. 7), so the attack

upon it by the invaders was an attack upon the character, credi-

bility, and honor of God himself. In B, Mt. Zion, "where you

dwelt" (vs. 2), becomes "the sanctuary ... the dwelling place of

your name" (vs. 7). Here begins the drawing of Elohim's self-

concern. The central section of the plea is explicit in its question-

ing, "Will the enemy deride your name forever?" (vs. 10). The same

theme is taken up immediately after the hymn, "a foolish people

has spurned your name" (vs. 18), suggesting that the hymn is

recited in the ears of Elohim to remind him of his reputation.

Then the final use of the name offers the possibility that, if God

acts in harmony with his past actions and delivers his people, then

even "the afflicted and miserable [will] praise your name" (vs. 21).

            In this interpretation, the destructive acts of the enemy in B

provide a negative incentive for Yahweh to act, especially when

linked in C with the direct verbal taunts of the blaspheming

invaders. The positive incentive in reminding Elohim of his repu-

tation in history and creation (B') is linked in A' with the prospect


                     PSALM 74                                         223


of praise instead of ridicule and derision. If indeed C is the axis of

the petition, then the primary theme of the psalm is the status of

God's name and reputation. The flanking paragraphs work to

heighten the issue and prompt God to an act of salvation for the

desperate community.


                                                3. Conclusion


            Each of the three themes provides a pattern of development in

which the chiastic structure of the psalm is demonstrated as being

basic. This is particularly so with regard to the thematic opposi-

tion, yet functional co-operation, between B and B', and the

pivotal position of C.




This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Andrews University Seminary Studies

SDA Theological Seminary
Berrien Springs
, MI 49104-1500

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: