“The nearness of God is my good,” says the psalmist.
Though the wicked prosper, though evil carries on, though the circumstances of God’s people are bleak, everything makes sense in God’s presence (Psalm 73:17). There the embittered soul is revived. The beastly attitude is tamed. “Nevertheless,” the psalm goes, “I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me into glory” (Psalm 73:23–24).
But then there is Psalm 74.
Immediately after this resolve to remember God’s presence, to dwell on his nearness, the next installment from the psalmist named Asaph begins, “O God, why do you cast us off forever?” (Psalm 74:1). It directly opposes the good news of the previous psalm. Psalm 73 says God’s presence is our good, but Psalm 74 says,
The enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary! (verse 3)
Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place. (verse 4)
They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name. (verse 7)
They burned all the meeting places of God in the land. (verse 8)