We sometimes think of the Psalms as a disconnected collection of poems and prayers. While each of the Psalms, written by different authors at different times in different circumstances, was written as an individual prayer, it is clearly observable that the editors who compiled the Psalms clearly seem to have had a thematic focus as they put the collection together. Time and again, the consistent reader finds particular Psalms thematically connected to those that precede and follow. Psalm 75 is a case in point.
In Psalms 73 and 74, the writers expressed their confusion over God’s seeming silence in the face of his people’s suffering. They pleaded with God to act while he seemed to remain inactive. Psalm 75 is, in many ways, an answer to the prayers of the preceding Psalms.
While Psalms 73–74 portrayed God as (seemingly) aloof, Psalm 75 praises God as “near” (v. 1). While the previous Psalms suggest that God was not acting, this one pictures him as actively holding his cup of judgement over the head of the wicked (v. 8). The writer of Psalm 75 recognises that appearances can be deceptive. With eyes of faith, he expresses confidence that God will act in judgement against those who oppose him and his people. He teaches us the proper perspective we should have in prayer.
If we are honest, we will admit that we all struggle with perspective in prayer. We wonder why God does not answer our prayers when we know that he is perfectly capable of doing so. Psalm 75 reminds us that God is far more interested in our eternal good than our present ease. Dennis Tucker and Jamie Grant helpfully suggest a threefold perspective this Psalm teaches us about prayer.
First, the writer teaches us the need for honesty in prayer. We know that we are not God and that our perspective is sometimes warped. We know that God is wiser than we are and knows better than we do. But it does not help us if we allow technically correct theology to overwhelm raw honesty in prayer. When it comes to communing with God, it does little good to deny our flawed human view of life. The Psalms highlight time and again the need to be transparent with God in prayer. Sometimes, the psalmists sound almost disrespectful to God in their prayers, but it is helpful to remember that if the inspired psalmists could be raw in their prayers, so can we.
Second, this Psalm teaches us the need for patience in prayer. “At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity” (v. 2). God does not work according to our schedule. Scripture affirms that one day is with God as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. God is not in as much of a hurry as we often are. The writer of Psalm 74 pleaded with God to act swiftly (74:10–11, 22–23), but Psalm reminds us that God is constrained by his own timetable, not ours. He will act in judgement—when he determines that the time is right to do so.
Third—admittedly more implicitly than explicitly—Psalm 75 reminds us of the need to be open to change. As noted above, the Psalm is something of a corrective to the preceding Psalms. Whereas the sense of the previous Psalms was God’s people calling for immediate judgement, this Psalm shows that immediate judgement was not necessary. God’s delay was not God’s denial. He would act, when he wanted to. Even as we pray to God, we should remember that prayer serve to align us with God’s will rather than aligning him with ours.
As you reflect on Psalm 75 today, allow it to offer you God’s perspective in prayer. Learn honesty and patience in prayer and, at all time, be willing to be changed by God rather than seeking to change him.