Psalm 74 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Psalm 74 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?

2 Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.

3 Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary.

4 Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs.

5 A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees.

6 But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers.

7 They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling place of thy name to the ground.

8 They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land.

9 We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.

10 O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?

11 Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck it out of thy bosom.

12 For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.

13 Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.

(74:13-14) God is so strong that he broke the heads of Leviathan and the sea dragon.
When did God kill Leviathan and the sea dragon?
It is always dangerous to read poetry too literally. It is poetry after all...
In verse 2 we can see the psalmist referring to the beginning of Israel, how God led Israel out of Egypt. That God is still the same God. And the psalmist brings that event before God so he would have mercy and deliver them from their enemies this time also. This verse continues that theme. The dividing the sea is the parting of the Red See. The heads of the dragons are the lords of Egypt who drowned in that event. At another place a Pharaoh is also called a dragon, Ezek. 29:3.

14 Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.

The author of the SAB also asks when God did kill the Leviathan. But both in this verse and in Is. 27:1 not a physical Levithian is meant, but the enemies of God's people. The word Leviathan is used to describe the strength and power of these enemies. And will God slay the enemies of his people only once, or can he do so multiple times? Of course the latter, so just comparing these verses and announcing a contradiction is utter nonsense.
Given the context of this verse, the parting of the Red Sea and the death of Pharao in verse 13, and the cleaving of the rocks at Horeb and Kadesh in verse 15, this verse also refers to an event that happened after Israel went out of Egypt. And it probably should be connected to the event of verse 13, and describes the spoil Israel took after the dead of the Egyptian army washed ashore.

15 Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers.

16 The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun.

17 Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.

(74:17) "Thou has set all the borders of the earth"
A spherical earth has no borders.
The borders in this case are the borders of the nations. God had set the borders if Israel, Ex. 23:31, but the enemy was approaching to cross those borders and to take Israel away.

18 Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O LORD, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.

19 O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever.

20 Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.

21 O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise thy name.

22 Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily.

23 Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually.