As part of my 25 for 25 (25 devotionals leading up to 25 December), here is Day # 14: This is our sixth of seven Christmas devotionals focused on Psalms. Psalm 74 is a plea from Asaph to the Lord for relief from oppressors. We’re going to look at how this fits into a famous Christmas carol and the Nazis. Reverend Adrian Dieleman says, “Psalm 74 is an Advent Psalm. It starts with the need for Emmanuel. It continues with the victory of Emmanuel. And, it ends with a prayer for Emmanuel.” (Read the sermon here). Psalm 74:7-8 says,
“They have set fire to Your sanctuary; They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name to the ground.
They said in their hearts,
‘Let us destroy them altogether.’
They have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land.”
Some of the lyrics to “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” are:
“O come, Thou Key of David, come. And open wide our heavenly home. Make safe the way that leads on high. And close the path to misery. Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel. Shall come to thee, o Israel.”
Do you see the connection? That need for safety and an end to misery is crucial. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Nazi Germany and the only date he wrote into his Bible was here in Psalm 74:7-8. It was November 9, 1938, which was the day the Nazi’s started burning synagogues.
In later devotionals we’ll talk about the meaning of the word Emmanuel, but for now let’s view Christmastime as a way to be empathetic to Israeli as Bonhoeffer did. As his book, The Cost of Discipleship explains, “cheap grace” is accepting all the benefits of Christianity without accepting any of the costs. Christmas for the Christian is supposed to be more than trading gifts. We must prayerfully and monetarily and physically seek the Lord’s safety for those in need. Emmanuel is the only answer!