Psalm 74 … Consider Him Who Champions His Cause

Rise up, God, champion your cause!
Remember the insults that fools bring against you all day long,
(74:22 CSB).

Oh, this psalm was tough, not a lot of comfort… on the surface. Continued cries of desperation and feelings of rejection lie between the explicit details of the oppression and affliction of God’s people; and interspersed throughout are the despondent inquiries of how long they will be left in this seemingly hopeless state combined with fervent pleas for God to remember, to turn towards them and to do something!

The enemy is definitely winning; or so it seems. They have sacked, smashed and burned the land and the sanctuary, they have set up their own standards, their banners as signs displaying their claim on the territory with braggadocious assertions that they will completely subdue the people of God.

And there is no prophet among them who can bring insight, comfort or hope.

They have burned Your sanctuary to the ground;
They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name.
They said in their heart, “Let us completely subdue them.”
They have burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
We do not see our signs;
There is no longer any prophet,
Nor is there any among us who knows how long.
10 How long, O God, will the adversary revile,
And the enemy spurn Your name forever?

Today’s reading gave me the same sense of watching a courtroom drama that brings us to the brink of uncertainty about the outcome. There’s a menacing air of unpredictability looming; and from this place of bewilderment, the psalmist makes his own plea, asking God to step in and plead, defend, prosecute and Champion His Cause.

Consider Him Who Champions His Cause

Arise, O God, and plead Your own cause;
Remember how the foolish man reproaches You all day long,
(74:22 NASB).

Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
(74:22 ESV).

Get up, God, and prosecute your case—
remember that you’re being scorned by fools all day long,
(74:22 ISV).

Rise up, God, champion your cause!
Remember the insults that fools bring against you all day long,
(74:22 CSB).

It’s an interesting choice of words the psalmist uses. While he acknowledges God as his King and refers to His mighty and miraculous deeds of deliverance and sovereign rule over His creation (74:12-17), this time, he does not ask the Lord to be his Deliverer, his Refuge, his Shelter, his Rescue. This time he asks the Lord to go to trial, not on behalf of His people, but on behalf of His Cause.

From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:

Plead/Defend/Prosecute/Champion: “7378. רִיב riyḇ,  רוּב rûḇ: A verb meaning to strive, to contend, to dispute, and to conduct a lawsuit. The verb means to conduct a lawsuit or legal case and all that it involves.”

Cause: 7379. רִיב riyḇ,  רִב riḇ,  רִיבָה riyḇāh: A masculine noun meaning a strife, a controversy, a contention. The primary idea of this noun is that of a quarrel or dispute… Similarly, the word is used in a legal sense to refer to an argument or case made in one’s defense.”

The psalmist appeals to God to conduct a legal case and all that is involved in His Cause. And before he makes his bold request, he asks the Lord to remember His Cause.

Remember this, O Lord, that the enemy has reviled,
And a foolish people has spurned Your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of Your turtledove to the wild beast;
Do not forget the life of Your afflicted forever.
20 Consider the covenant;
For the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the oppressed return dishonored;
Let the afflicted and needy praise Your name,

It’s as though the psalmist is begging God to deal with the contentions of the enemy in a court of law.

Champion Your Cause O Lord as You consider the covenant. Your covenant is at stake and being reviled by the enemy; Your covenant that will deliver the one You love from the wild beast; Your covenant that will always bring to Your remembrance the life of the afflicted; Your covenant that will bestow honor on the oppressed; Your covenant that will compel Your people to praise Your name. Your covenant that is Everlasting. O Lord, please take Your case to trial. For there the enemy will lose; for the enemy has no legal leg to stand on. And before You Lord, the Judge, the Prosecutor and our Defender, there You will silence the incessant and foolish uproar of Your defeated enemy as You Champion Your Cause.

Arise, O God, and plead [defend, prosecute and champion] Your own cause;
Remember how the foolish man reproaches You all day long.
23 Do not forget the voice of Your adversaries,
The uproar of those who rise against You which ascends continually,

  • Even though the intent of man’s heart is evil form his youth, He Champions His Cause through His covenant promise to Noah to spare mankind from destruction.
    • Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done,” (Genesis 8:20-21).
  • He Champions His Cause to bless all nations who will believe through His covenant promise to Abraham.
    • Now the Lord said to Abram,
      “Go forth from your country,
      And from your relatives
      And from your father’s house,
      To the land which I will show you;
      And I will make you a great nation,
      And I will bless you,
      And make your name great;
      And so you shall be a blessing;
      And I will bless those who bless you,
      And the one who curses you I will curse.
      And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed,”
      (Genesis 12:1-3).
  • He Champions His Cause to redeem all those who love Him through His covenant promise to Moses.
    • “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; (Deuteronomy 7:7-9).
  • He Champions His Cause to establish His throne forever through His covenant promise to David.
    • “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever,” (2 Samuel 7:16).
  • He Champions His Cause to fulfill every bit of the covenant requirements of the Law through His own Son.
    • “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished,” (Matthew 5:17-17).
    • For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, (Romans 8:3-4).

How do we respond to Him Who Champions His Cause?

Today’s reading in Psalm 74 is a call to believe Him Who Champions His Cause.

  • Let us believe Him Who Champions His Cause, for He will never lie, change His mind or fail to make good on His Word.
    • “God is not a man, that He should lie,
      Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
      Has He said, and will He not do it?
      Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
      ” (Numbers 23:19).
  • Let us believe Him Who Champions His Cause, for not only will He never lie, it is impossible for Him to do so. He is Truth and Light and in Him is no darkness whatsoever.
    • in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, (Titus 1:2).
    • This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all, (1 John 1:5).
  • Let us believe Him Who Champions His Cause, for He has provided a sure and steadfast hope in two unchangeable things: His promise and His oath. As if it were not enough for Him to give us His promise, He confirmed it with His oath through Jesus, our great High Priest.
    • In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, (Hebrews 6:17-20).

Our salvation is a total and eternally done deal, legally; it is His Cause, not ours; it is His work not ours. He Championed His Cause when Jesus Christ cancelled our debt and nailed it to the cross.

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross, (Colossians 2:13-14).

Today, let us walk in confidence in His covenant promises fulfilled in Christ. No matter our circumstances, no matter what the enemy tries to convince us, we must believe His truth: we have been justified and declared righteous. Let us not give way to fear, but let us strengthen ourselves in His truth as we walk in faith, believing Him Who Champions His Cause.

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies, (Romans 8:33).

Let’s Grow Together!

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