English Basic Explanation - Chapter 76
According to some commentators (Rashi, Mesudat David), this Psalm speaks of the great miracle that occurred when the Assyrian army besieged Jerusalem during the time of King Hizkiyahu (towards the end of the First Temple period). As we read in the Book of Melachim II (19:35) and in Divrei Hayamim II (32:21), God struck the entire army with a supernatural, deadly plague, effectively ending the Assyrian threat in but an instant. The Assyrian empire had already conquered virtually the entire region, including the Northern Kingdom of Israel (the ten northern tribes) which it had brought into exile. The Kingdom of Yehuda appeared to be the next victim of Assyria's seemingly insurmountable military machine, until this great miracle sent the Assyrian emperor Sanheriv back in shame to his homeland, where he was promptly assassinated.
Psalm 76 begins by declaring that this great miracle made God known throughout the Jewish people. Whereas until now the success of the cruel, tyrannical Assyrian leaders may have led some to question God's control over world events, the sudden, unexpected downfall of the kingdom reaffirmed His unchallenged power and authority. Later, in verse 12, we read of the effect this miracle had on the mindset of the surrounding nations, who are called upon to bring offerings and tributes to God as an expression of their newfound acknowledgment of His existence and might. Indeed, we read in Divrei Hayamim II (32:23) that in the aftermath of Sanheriv's downfall many foreign peoples came to Jerusalem to bring offerings to God and gifts to King Hizkiyahu.
In verse 11, the Psalmist (the poet Assaf) notes the irony latent in the fact that "the fury of man," the vicious crimes of the wicked, result in greater and more widespread recognition of God. When God is forced to visit retribution upon the evil despots of the world, His power and righteousness becomes more clearly manifest, and people are inspired to give praise and commit themselves to His will. Sanheriv's aggression and denial of God led only to greater dissemination of the belief in His existence.
The Radak approaches this Psalm differently, claiming that it describes the battle of Gog U'Maggog that will precede the final redemption. In his view, the enemy descending upon Jerusalem and suffering defeat is not Assyria, but rather the alliance of nations that will assemble to wage war against the Jews in Israel. The defeat of these nations will bring glory to God's name throughout the earth, heralding the onset of the Messianic age, when all people will recognize the Almighty and the unique stature of Am Yisrael.