Christ Drinks the Cup: Psalm 75

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Today’s Sunday Psalms entry is written by Timothy Tennent.

Psalm 75 (NIV)

We praise you, God,
    we praise you, for your Name is near;
    people tell of your wonderful deeds.

You say, “I choose the appointed time;
    it is I who judge with equity.
When the earth and all its people quake,
    it is I who hold its pillars firm.
To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’
    and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.
Do not lift your horns against heaven;
    do not speak so defiantly.’”

No one from the east or the west
    or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges:
    He brings one down, he exalts another.
In the hand of the Lord is a cup
    full of foaming wine mixed with spices;
he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth
    drink it down to its very dregs.

As for me, I will declare this forever;
    I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,
10 who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked,
    but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

The psalm begins with a voice of thanks and praise to God, but quickly moves to God’s own voice giving a warning to all the earth. Asaph declares that there is an appointed time for judgment, and that the judgment will be perfectly just. Therefore, he warns the boastful and wicked not to boast or lift up their hearts with pride—for God is the Judge, and he alone exalts or abases.

Then in verse 8, we are given a significant image of that judgment—the cup of the Lord’s wrath poised in his hand, well mixed and ready to pour out upon the wicked of all the earth. This is a familiar image found in both the Old and New Testaments (Rev. 16 and Jer. 25:15–31). However, it is also familiar to us from the voice of Jesus himself in the garden of Gethsemane, as he prayed for God’s cup to pass from him (Matt. 26:39–42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42). Here we realize that the cup Jesus is dreading is the very cup of wrath and judgment this psalm describes. Before the final outpouring of God’s wrath and judgment, God himself in Jesus Christ has interrupted that wrath with an incredible act of grace—taking the cup of wrath and drinking it himself. This is the great power of the gospel, which can only be fully grasped if we fully grasp the reality of God’s judgment that this psalm portrays. Knowing the certainty of God’s cup of wrath is what brings us to our knees in praise for what Jesus has entered into in our stead.

However, the trajectory of that judgment still exists for all who disdain Christ’s interruption—for all things will still be set right in the end, and it is an act of love and grace for God to do so. Thus, it is God’s mercy both to offer a way of escape for those trusting in Christ’s righteousness (who drank that cup of judgment), and to set all things right by judging and ending the presence of wickedness on the earth. Psalm 75 praises God for both of these acts of mercy. This dual action of God has been captured well by a line in the chorus of the Christmas carol “Masters in This Hall”: “Nowell, sing we loud! God today hath poor folk raised and cast a-down the proud.”

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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