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.
14 Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
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.
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.
Perhaps nothing arouses the anger of a people as much as abuse of their God, and desecration of their place of worship. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians fight over destroyed and defiled temples, mosques, and churches.
This Psalm of prayer was uttered by one who decried the desecration of the Temple. Enemies of God had invaded the Holy Places, smashed through the carved paneling, and burned the sanctuary to the ground (verses 4-8), defiling the place where God’s Name dwelled.
But the ‘enemy’ is not always outside the church. We each have somewhat different views on how to treat God’s sanctuary. Should we remove our shoes? Should we cover our heads? This is not an easy matter to resolve, because the very thing that aids one person in worship may hinder another.
The place of worship is holy ground and must be kept as clean and tidy as possible. Any neglect to keep the church in the best of repair is irreverence. No culture can excuse this. However, the use of shoes and head-covering is cultural. In some cultures removal or use would be irreverent. The goal is to create as reverent an environment for worship as possible.