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Psalm 75

God steadies the earth

Seeing gross injustice—sometimes even just a minor injustice against us personally—we may decide God must enact judgment immediately. This psalm says he alone determines the timing of his judgment.

An Asaph psalm.

We thank you, O God!
We thank you that your name is near
and recount the wonderful things you do.

2 “At the time of my choosing
I will judge with justice.
3 When the earth
and all its inhabitants careen
I’m the one who steadies its pillars.
Pause & ponder.
4 I say to the arrogant
‘Enough boasting!’
and to the wicked
‘Enough lifting your horn up high!
5 Do not raise up your horn
or speak defiantly against the Rock.’”[1]

6 Blessing, honor and power
come not from the east or the west—
nor from the wilderness either.[2]
7 God alone is judge
raising one up and making another fall.
8 Yahveh holds a foaming cup in his hand
filled to the brim with mixed wine.
When God pours it out
earth’s evildoers drink it
right it down to its dregs.
9 As for me
I’ll proclaim this forever
making music to the God of Jacob.

10 “I will cut off all the horns of the wicked
but the horns of the just will be lifted up.”

The Psalms editor(s) placed this psalm where they did as the divine response to Psalms 73 and 74’s wrestling—personally and corporately—with feeling abandoned to the arrogant evil of unbelievers. The Temple may be gone, but God’s ability to answer his people’s prayers remains unchanged. All the grace and power his name stands for is fully accessible to them wherever they are. And however bad things are, God is still sovereign, steadying the earth when catastrophe makes it careen and limiting the evildoers’ boasting and self-assertion.

But God alone decides when to ring down the curtain on evil. He’ll make the Babylonians drink down his judgment, but only when he says it’s time. God’s people must wait on him instead of equating what they want—individually or nationally—with his will. And they should look to him alone for blessing, honor and power since all these things come ultimately from him.

The psalmist embraces these truths wholeheartedly, in word and song, convinced that God will yet take down all evildoers and raise up all who trust in him.

Seeing others’ evil, Lord, I want justice now. In my pain, I often want blessing now, whatever the source. Thank you that you are holy, sovereign and never late in judging or blessing. Help me see how short the shelf life of this world’s blessing and honor is and look to you alone for both. Amen.

In your free moments today, meditate on these words:

Blessing, honor and power come not from the east or the west—
nor from the wilderness either.
God alone is judge, raising one up and making another fall.


[1] The metaphor is of a horned animal asserting its dominance. This translation follows the Septuagint, with “the Rock” referring to God.

[2] East and west take us from one horizon to the other, while the wilderness may represent the unpredictable—the one place you’d least expect any change in your situation to originate.

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.