The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 79


A psalm of Asaph. 1 O God, the nations have invaded your heritage; they have defiled your holy temple, have laid Jerusalem in ruins.


They have left the corpses of your servants as food for the birds of the heavens, the flesh of your faithful for the beasts of the earth.


They have spilled their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and no one is left to bury them.


We have become the reproach of our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us.


How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your rage keep burning like fire?


Pour out your wrath on nations that reject you, on kingdoms that do not call on your name,


For they have devoured Jacob, laid waste his home.


Do not hold past iniquities against us; may your compassion come quickly, for we have been brought very low.


Help us, God our savior, for the glory of your name. Deliver us, pardon our sins for your name's sake.


Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Before our eyes make clear to the nations that you avenge the blood of your servants.


Let the groans of prisoners come before you; by your great power free those doomed to death.


Lord, inflict on our neighbors seven fold the disgrace they inflicted on you.


Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; through all ages we will declare your praise.



1 [Psalm 79] A communal lament complaining that the nations have defiled the temple and murdered the holy people, leaving their corpses unburied ( Psalm 79:1-4). The occasion is probably the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army in 587 B.C. The people ask how long the withdrawal of divine favor will last ( Psalm 79:5), pray for action now ( Psalm 79:6-7), and admit that their own sins have brought about the catastrophe ( Psalm 79:8-9). They seek to persuade God to act for reasons of honor: the nations who do not call upon the Name are running amok ( Psalm 79:6); the divine honor is compromised ( Psalm 79:1, 10, 12); God's own servants suffer ( Psalm 79:2-4, 11).

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