Psalm 74:10

O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? Shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?

Is the psalmist addressing a generic enemy or a specific one?

2 Answers 2


In context this Psalm refers to a specific collective enemy of God. This is clear from the context.

4 Your foes roared triumphantly in the place of your assembly; they set up their own tokens of victory. 5 They hacked away like a forester gathering boughs, swinging his ax in a thicket of trees. 6 They smashed all its engraved work, struck it with ax and pick. 7 They set your sanctuary on fire, profaned your name’s abode by razing it to the ground.

If this is truly a psalm of Asaph, then it hard to place the historical events referred to, since Asaph lived during the reigns of David and Solomon; and the sanctuary did not experience any such catastrophe in those years. Thus, either Asaph was speaking prophetically or the attribution (by a later editor) is mistaken. As @Jason points out, the psalm fits especially well with the fate of the Temple during the early stages of the Babylonian exile. The Temple was plundered on other occasions, but the Babylonian armies are the most likely candidate.

Nevertheless, psalms are often interpreted allegorically and personally, in which case the adversary would be Satan.

Conclusion: The psalmist speaks of a specific collective enemy, probably the forces of the Babylonian Empire. However, readers often interpret the psalms allegorically, as referring to their personal struggle against God's ancient adversary.

  • @ Dan Fefferman Thanks Dan. Actually it was your reference in my previous question that caused me to notice this. Anytime I see adversary or enemy I consider Satin ( adversary) as the possible meaning. Because Psalms has many duel meaning to David's time as well as the future events, I wondered if some hermeneutic might give an answer.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Feb 29 at 0:04

thehistoryville says:

In December 589 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, invaded Jerusalem and began a siege against King Zedekiah of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The siege lasted for more than a year as the Jews endured the effects of the blockade. Morality among the Jews plummeted as famine set in and because of their poor state, various plagues began to afflict them.

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  • Psalm 74:10 appears to address a specific enemy who reproaches and blasphemies God's name
  • The psalmist pleads with God to remember His covenant promises and act on behalf of His people in the face of their enemies
  • Lamentation in the psalm is a lamentation over the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the absence of God's intervention to defend His people

Let me add:

During the First Temple period (1200-586 BC), the First Temple was built in 1000 BC by King Solomon after King David conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital. The Temple was destroyed in 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, when he conquered Jerusalem.

This here poses a possible different timing:

From this reading, Psalms 74–75 find a historical connection in Shisak’s invasion recorded in 2 Chronicles 10–12 (ca. 930 BC).

Many commentators place the “temple-smashing” description of Psalm 74 at the Babylonian destruction of the temple (ca. 586 BC). Surely, the later dating is plausible, but in my reading the textual evidence is equally, if not more, plausible for an earlier reading.

From here:

Psalm 74 is about when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the *temple. The *psalmist asks God to think again! "Keep your promise" in verse 20 is "remember the *covenant" in *Hebrew. The *covenant was when God and the *Israelites agreed. God would *protect them if they obeyed him. The trouble was that they did not obey him. So God let Nebuchadnezzar destroy the *temple. He also took the *Israelites to Babylon. There they had to do what he told them to do. They were in *exile. Really, they were in a prison a long way from home.

Psalm 74 tells us what Nebuchadnezzar did to the *temple. The *Israelites were sorry because Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the *temple. They were not sorry that they had *disobeyed God. ("*Disobeyed" means "did not obey".) That is why God did not have to keep his promise. So he let Nebuchadnezzar and his army destroy the *temple.

  • "Adversary" and "enemy" are specific words and likely refer to historical adversaries of Israel who have attacked and desecrated the sanctuary of God. Psalm 74:3:

Lift up Your feet to the perpetual desolations. The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary.

  • This could be literal or allegorical. The enemy represents the forces of evil and opposition that seek to undermine God's purposes and faith in His people.

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