Direct your steps to the endless ruins;
the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!
Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
they set up their own signs for signs.
They were like those who swing axes
in a forest of trees.
And all its carved wood
they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
They set your sanctuary on fire;
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.
This is a graphic description of the destruction of Solomon's temple by the Babylonian army in 587 BC.
You’re there! You can hear the curses and profane shouts of the soldiers. You can see them swinging their axes against the pillars that support the building, razing it to the ground, reducing one of the architectural wonders of the ancient world to a pile of rubble. He invites you to “Lift your feet over these endless ruins. Pick your way across them.” (74:3).
The destruction of Israel’s temple? The place in which God said he would bring salvation to the world? An unthinkable catastrophe. But an event that J.R.R. Tolkien would call a "eucatastrophe" (a good catastrophe), a situation in which everything gone wrong goes irrevocably right.
With the words "God, my King" (74:12) the poet turns from the destruction of temple to an indestructible God and a rehearsal of his mighty deeds on behalf of his own. The rest of the narrative (the Bible) tells us how he worked through history to restore Israel’s temple and give it a greater glory than ever before. The prophet Haggai wrote, “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:9).’” It was in this place that Jesus appeared in all his glory to bring salvation and peace to the world. A eucatastrophe indeed!
Are you walking through the rubble of your fondest dream? I wonder what God is up to?