The Destructive Work of Man and the Constructive Work of God
Psalm 74:7-8, 12
They have cast fire into your sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling place of your name to the ground.…

The prayer in vers. 1, 2, to help the people sunk in the deepest misery, is followed by its basis or ground, which consists of a picture of this misery (vers. 3-9); the sanctuary is destroyed, and all traces of the presence of God among his people have disappeared. The short prayer in vers. 10, 11 seeks support and stay in the thought of the omnipotence of the God of Israel (vers. 12-17). The prayer is renewed at the close in an expanded form (Genesis 17:7, 8). It shows how the Church of God and individual believers are to conduct themselves in times when everything appears to be lost and to lie in ruins. The whole psalm may suggest two general points for consideration - the destructive work of man, and the constructive work of God.

I. THE DESTRUCTIVE WORK OF MAN. (Vers. 3-9.) The enemy had destroyed everything in the sanctuary, and burnt up the holy place itself. Look at some destructive work in our day.

1. The material tendencies of physical science. Leading to a denial of God and immortality, and striking at the foundation of morals by denying the freedom of man's nature. Ideas destructive, as well as conduct.

2. The critical spirit which is abroad. A spirit of denial, almost universally pulling down, and not building up. This and that not true - in history and creed.

3. The selfish spirit, wherever it rules, is destructive. In politics and commerce, and in our social relations - tending to antagonism and separation, and breaking all law - moral, Divine, and social.

4. The absence of true prophets - inspired men - is also a sign of the destructive process. (Ver. 9.) The true prophet is the constructor, and not the destroyer; the inspirer, and not the critic.


1. God's greatest work of old was redemptive. (Vers. 12-15.) "For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth." His work in Christ is reconstructive, building men up after the highest pattern. Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfil.

2. His work in the physical creation is constructive. (Vers. 16, 17.) He prepared the light and the sun, made summer and winter. The same mind ordained and continues the precious seasons as ordained the laws and works of redemption.

3. God's covenant is a covenant of salvation. (Ver. 20.) And the world is still in urgent need of redemption. "The dark places," etc.

4. The work of redemption is God's own - "his own cause. (Ver. 22). And therefore he will not abandon it. We can therefore pray as the psalmist did. - S.

Parallel Verses
KJV: They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling place of thy name to the ground.

WEB: They have burned your sanctuary to the ground. They have profaned the dwelling place of your Name.

The Axe and the Altar
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