Psalm 79:1 begins with a mournful prayer: “O God, the nations have invaded Your inheritance …”. The writer of Psalm 79 is a mourner, and it is important to understand the cause of his grief. It is obvious to the reader that the nation had been devastated: “They have laid Jerusalem in ruins” (:1) etc. But there is more to it than that. We see repeatedly that the source of mourning is that the nations have “invaded YOUR inheritance; they have defiled YOUR holy temple.” In :2 he speaks of “YOUR servants” and “YOUR godly ones” who have been slain. It is not merely a personal loss that the Psalmist is mourning, but rather an affront to God’s glory.
What we mourn over reveals a lot about us. Unfortunately, when many of us mourn, it is not regarding God’s holiness or glory. Instead it often stems from a loss of personal pride, pleasure, or comfort. Injustices or pains inflicted on others are far less likely to touch us — and how much less “just” an affront to the glory of God?
The lesson of Psalm 79 is that the righteous soul DOES mourn; it is not insensitive to the violations of God’s glory and righteousness by “the nations.” The Psalm spring from the heart of one who was touched by the egregious actions of the world against the standards and glory of God. We could substitute any number of similar complaints against “the nations” here: “O God the nations have defiled the spirit of marriage …”; “O God the nations have oppressed our souls with immoral images …”; “O God the nations have rejected and vilified Your word …” and so on.
Jesus taught us: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). We understand that the deepest application of this verse does not regard personal loss, but sin. The mourner whom Jesus proclaims as blessed is the one who mourns his own sin first of all, because he knows how far short of the glory of God he has fallen. And because he has a love for the glory of God, whenever he sees it violated, he also mourns the sins of others. Like the oppressed soul in Psalm 79, he cries out, “O God, the nations ….”.
Over what do you mourn? Your personal sins? Violations of the glory of God by others? Or is is trivial things, or those which affect your own personal pride and comfort alone? Whichever it is, what you mourn over reveals a lot about you.