The Random Vandals: A response to psalm 74


Psalm 74 is, amongst other things a lament and outcry against wanton vandalism, the spirit of mere mindless destruction:

Thine adversaries roar in the midst of thy congregations: and set up their banners for tokens.

He that hewed timber afore out of the thick trees: was known to bring it to an excellent work.

But now they break down all the carved work thereof: with axes and hammers.

They have set fire upon thy holy places: and have defiled the dwelling-place of thy Name, even unto the ground.

Yea, they said in their hearts, Let us make havock of them altogether: thus have they burnt up all the houses of God in the land.

The occasion of the psalm is the desecration of holy places in Israel, but we have all seen episodes in history and in our own time of similar outbreaks. (I should say that I wrote this months before the terrible events of January 6th in Washington, but since then it has, perhaps, taken on an extra layer of meaning)

The original psalm though, also points beyond the symptoms to the cause:

We see not our tokens, there is not one prophet more: no, not one is there among us, that understandeth any more.

In my response to this psalm I turned my attention more to the intellectual and cultural vandalism that arises out of the poisonous combination of arrogance and ignorance, out of a failure of vision, rather than to the physical vandalism that takes a hatchet to the carved work in choir and sanctuary, though sometimes these things are not unrelated

These poems will all be gathered together and published on January 30th under the title David’s Crown.  There is already an Amazon page for the book if you wish to pre-order it Here

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title.

LXXIV Ut quid, Deus?

When we awake in you all will be well,

But now we feel your absence and we cry

‘How long will the destroyers work their will?


The random vandals who don’t even try

To understand the good things they deface.

They trash the past, and cast a jaundiced eye


On all the works of beauty, art and grace

That once made up our culture. In their pride

They ruin things that no-one can replace


As, making havoc of their lives, they slide

Back into chaos. Rouse us up O lord

Who rode upon the seraphim. Divide


Once more the waters, draw the flaming sword,

Bring order out of chaos, as you did

When darkness fled before your holy Word.


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Filed under imagination

6 responses to “The Random Vandals: A response to psalm 74

  1. Patricia Conneen

    Dear Malcolm, Thank you for this timely prayer. Our poor broken country is in such desperate need of divine intervention. With so much appreciation for you and for your gift, Pat

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Trusting God

    The violence has been raging quietly for years – In failing courts which are instruments of elder abuse and removal of estates and loved ones through “Guardianships”. The slavery abounds through courts allowing children to be sexually exploited and cover-ups of young ones that sadly make it through the borders only to be drugged and used as sex slaves. Race does not matter to the devil either. The June riots saw burning of churches as shown below. This is only a snippet of Ps 74 needed by many for years who silently suffer with no media coverage. We have not begun to speak about the platforms used to raid Christians in Nigeria to the abuse and death of the most vulnerable. Where is the church? Will it only speak when it is popular to stand, using false narratives as distractions for the real, silenced wars? God awaken your church to truly pray!

  3. Barbara L Parry

    Such a valuable perspective to share during these dark and chaotic times!

  4. Pingback: The Song Of Heaven: A Response to Psalm 75 | Malcolm Guite

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