English Basic Explanation - Chapter 74
Psalm 74 presents the impassioned plea of the poet Assaf that God should rebuild the Temple and visit retribution upon the enemy nations that laid it to waste. The emphasis throughout this chapter is clearly upon the arrogance and audaciousness of those nations, who burnt the Mikdash to the ground and blasphemously denied the power of the God of Israel. Assaf appeals to God not on the basis of Am Yisrael's merit, but rather in light of the grievous Hillul Hashem – desecration of God's name – that naturally resulted from the Temple's destruction. In fact, Assaf beseeches God to "fight Your battle" (verse 22); regardless of whether or not the Jewish people deserve redemption, God must win this battle for His sake, as it were, to prove His power and authority to those who stubbornly and persistently deny it.
In the middle section of this Psalm (verses 12-17), Assaf contrasts God's seeming passivity in the wake of the enemies' blasphemy with the awesome might and power He exhibited on so many occasions in the past. He speaks here of the Exodus from Egypt, when God made the grand Egyptian empire crumble and instantly transferred their wealth to their former slaves (see Rashi, verses 13-14). Assaf draws our attention as well to the miracles God performed during Benei Yisrael's sojourn in the wilderness (verse 15), followed by the glorious wonders of creation (verses 16-17). God's majestic power as displayed in these extraordinary events contrasts sharply with the calamity of the Temple's destruction, when God appeared powerless – Heaven forbid – in the face of the audacious assaults of Israel's vicious enemies.
In this Psalm's final verse, Assaf declares that the raucous clamor of the enemies' trampling on the sacred ground of the Temple "rises constantly." The impact of this tragedy continues to be felt many centuries after Nevuchadnesar set the First Temple ablaze and the Roman general Titus burned the Second Temple. The absence of a Mikdash in Jerusalem allows Israel's foes to continue their oppression, pointing to what they perceive as God's abandonment of the Jews as proof of their condemned status. The noise of the Hurban (destruction) continues to be heard each and every day since the fall of Jerusalem, and Assaf thus beseeches God to once and for all wage His ultimate, victorious battle against the nations that burned His Mikdash and exiled His people.