At the end of the previous stanza the psalmist addressed himself to God, protesting that the offenses he saw were directed not so much against himself and his people, but against God. In their wanton destruction of the temple, Israel's enemies were actually mocking God. This led him to think how great the God of Israel, whom they are mocking, really is (vv. 12-17), and this started him on the uphill path mentioned yesterday. Earlier he had asked God to remember Israel; here he himself remembers God.

In verses 9-11, Asaph's lament reaches its lowest point in an expression of utter abandonment. Scholar Alexander Maclaren rightly calls these verses “the kernel of the psalm, the rest of which is folded round them systematically.” This is right, because the psalm seems to descend to this point and then, like Psalm 73 before it, make a turning point in these verses and begin to start back up. Asaph complains, “We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be.”

Verses 1 and 2 form the first stanza of the psalm and at once strike the sad, wailing tone of this lament. Jerusalem has been destroyed, the temple is in ruins, and the psalmist can see no end to the wretchedness he has experienced and observed. In these verses he asks God if his rejection of his people is going to last forever (“Why have you rejected us forever, O God?''), and he asks God to remember and therefore help both his redeemed people and Jerusalem.

Singing of the psalms was extremely important to the Huguenots, those persecuted Protestants who were driven out of France in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The power of the psalms to bless and fortify them must have been especially feared by their persecutors, for under Louis XIII and Louis XIV many edicts were passed forbidding the use of the Psalter. These brave people, however, merely hid their books while carrying on their singing in mountain caves or forests, since they knew the psalms by heart.

We have followed Asaph from his introductory statement of faith in the goodness of God, through his steep descent into doubt and near unbelief, to the important turning point as a result of which he began to see things from God's perspective. Here we see him coming back. This radical reordering of his thinking, described in verses 18-26, touches on three main areas.