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Psalm 74-76The Message (MSG)

An Asaph Psalm

74 You walked off and left us, and never looked back.
    God, how could you do that?
We’re your very own sheep;
    how can you stomp off in anger?

2-3 Refresh your memory of us—you bought us a long time ago.
    Your most precious tribe—you paid a good price for us!
    Your very own Mount Zion—you actually lived here once!
Come and visit the site of disaster,
    see how they’ve wrecked the sanctuary.

4-8 While your people were at worship, your enemies barged in,
    brawling and scrawling graffiti.
They set fire to the porch;
    axes swinging, they chopped up the woodwork,
Beat down the doors with sledgehammers,
    then split them into kindling.
They burned your holy place to the ground,
    violated the place of worship.
They said to themselves, “We’ll wipe them all out,”
    and burned down all the places of worship.

9-17 There’s not a sign or symbol of God in sight,
    nor anyone to speak in his name,
    no one who knows what’s going on.
How long, God, will barbarians blaspheme,
    enemies curse and get by with it?
Why don’t you do something? How long are you going
    to sit there with your hands folded in your lap?
God is my King from the very start;
    he works salvation in the womb of the earth.
With one blow you split the sea in two,
    you made mincemeat of the dragon Tannin.
You lopped off the heads of Leviathan,
    then served them up in a stew for the animals.
With your finger you opened up springs and creeks,
    and dried up the wild floodwaters.
You own the day, you own the night;
    you put stars and sun in place.
You laid out the four corners of earth,
    shaped the seasons of summer and winter.

18-21 Mark and remember, God, all the enemy
    taunts, each idiot desecration.
Don’t throw your lambs to the wolves;
    after all we’ve been through, don’t forget us.
Remember your promises;
    the city is in darkness, the countryside violent.
Don’t leave the victims to rot in the street;
    make them a choir that sings your praises.

22-23 On your feet, O God—
    stand up for yourself!
Do you hear what they’re saying about you,
    all the vile obscenities?
Don’t tune out their malicious filth,
    the brawling invective that never lets up.

An Asaph Psalm

75 We thank you, God, we thank you—
    your Name is our favorite word;
    your mighty works are all we talk about.

2-4 You say, “I’m calling this meeting to order,
    I’m ready to set things right.
When the earth goes topsy-turvy
    And nobody knows which end is up,
I nail it all down,
    I put everything in place again.
I say to the smart alecks, ‘That’s enough,’
    to the bullies, ‘Not so fast.’”

5-6 Don’t raise your fist against High God.
    Don’t raise your voice against Rock of Ages.
He’s the One from east to west;
    from desert to mountains, he’s the One.

7-8 God rules: he brings this one down to his knees,
    pulls that one up on her feet.
God has a cup in his hand,
    a bowl of wine, full to the brim.
He draws from it and pours;
    it’s drained to the dregs.
Earth’s wicked ones drink it all,
    drink it down to the last bitter drop!

9-10 And I’m telling the story of God Eternal,
    singing the praises of Jacob’s God.
The fists of the wicked
    are bloody stumps,
The arms of the righteous
    are lofty green branches.

An Asaph Psalm

76 1-3 God is well-known in Judah;
    in Israel, he’s a household name.
He keeps a house in Salem,
    his own suite of rooms in Zion.
That’s where, using arrows for kindling,
    he made a bonfire of weapons of war.

4-6 Oh, how bright you shine!
    Outshining their huge piles of loot!
The warriors were plundered
    and left there impotent.
And now there’s nothing to them,
    nothing to show for their swagger and threats.
Your sudden roar, God of Jacob,
    knocked the wind out of horse and rider.

7-10 Fierce you are, and fearsome!
    Who can stand up to your rising anger?
From heaven you thunder judgment;
    earth falls to her knees and holds her breath.
God stands tall and makes things right,
    he saves all the wretched on earth.
Instead of smoldering rage—God-praise!
    All that sputtering rage—now a garland for God!

11-12 Do for God what you said you’d do—
    he is, after all, your God.
Let everyone in town bring offerings
    to the One Who Watches our every move.
Nobody gets by with anything,
    no one plays fast and loose with him.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Romans 9:16-33The Message (MSG)

14-18 Is that grounds for complaining that God is unfair? Not so fast, please. God told Moses, “I’m in charge of mercy. I’m in charge of compassion.” Compassion doesn’t originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God’s mercy. The same point was made when God said to Pharaoh, “I picked you as a bit player in this drama of my salvation power.” All we’re saying is that God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for good or ill.

19 Are you going to object, “So how can God blame us for anything since he’s in charge of everything? If the big decisions are already made, what say do we have in it?”

20-33 Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:

I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
    I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!”
    they’re calling you “God’s living children.”

Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:

If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
    and the sum labeled “chosen of God,”
They’d be numbers still, not names;
    salvation comes by personal selection.
God doesn’t count us; he calls us by name.
    Arithmetic is not his focus.

Isaiah had looked ahead and spoken the truth:

If our powerful God
    had not provided us a legacy of living children,
We would have ended up like ghost towns,
    like Sodom and Gomorrah.

How can we sum this up? All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
    a stone you can’t get around.
But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me,
    you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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