An explanation by Elder Aimilianos on the first two verses of Psalm 76 (LXX) written historically during a time of crisis for the people of Israel:
v.1 With my voice I cried to the Lord,
with my voice to God, and He was attentive to me.
These words reveal a deep sense of sorrow, a feeling of pain, which is why many modern interpreters believe that Psalm 76 (LXX) was written during a time of national crisis, when the Jewish people were under attack from the Assyrians or the Persians
(cf. 2 Kgs 17:6; 2 Chron 36:17-20).
…Returning to the verse itself, I should say that it is not simply the expression of a particular feeling, but a kind of overture to the basic themes of the psalm. The psalmist cries out to the Lord because he is searching for the Lord, and this causes him sorrow and pain of spirit. When does our spirit experience sorrow? When does it feel pain? When it understands that something separates it from God; when it feels the dividing wall standing between itself and God (cf. Eph 2:14). Every spiritual sorrow, every pain of separation from God, all the anguish and anxiety caused by this separation, constitute the «Babylonian captivity» of the soul. From such captivity the psalmist longs to be delivered, which means that he longs for the Lord, and this is why he tells us that with his whole being he cried out to the Lord.
The Hebrew says «My voice (goes) to God, for I cry out, so that He may hear me,» which presents us with a subtle but important difference. That the psalmist’s voice «goes to God» does not refer to a particular moment when the psalmist audibly cried out to God, but is the expression of his whole life, his whole existence, as turned toward God. «I am like an arrow poised on a bow,» he’s telling us, «aimed perpetually at God.» That this is a permanent condition is further emphasized by the verb, which is in the present tense: «My voice goes to God.» What is the voice? It is a reflection of the heart. It is an audible expression of whatever we have inside ourselves; an expression of the heart’s contents. «All my being, my entire existence, seeks nothing else but God. My life, and thus my voice, are completely turned toward God.»
v.2 In the day of my affliction I sought God, with my hands, at night, before Him, and I was not deceived; my soul refused to be comforted.
This verse introduces a new layer of meaning, for it tells us that the psalmist is «afflicted,» a word which in Greek means feeling hemmed in on all sides, pressed down, crushed. «Whenever I was in pain; whenever I felt the crushing absence of God; whenever I felt the oppressive emptiness of my inner desolation, of my isolation, I sought for God.»
With my hands, at night, before Him, and I was not deceived. The psalmist had «cried out» to the Lord, which was the expression, the externalization, of his inner life. Now, however, his cry becomes a prayer, an activity indicated by the lifting up of his hands, the raising of his palms toward God, a gesture which also represents the movement of his soul. The psalmist’s will to pray expresses itself in and through his body. Just as his voice had cried out, so too does his body speak, not because he is affecting a pious, external pose, but because something has naturally and spontaneously welled up within him. Yet the lifting up of his hands (cf. Ps 141:2) is not simply a blind physical reflex, but the conscious, personal expression of the will, the sign that the whole person is engaged by the search for God.
«Whenever I was overcome by feelings of inner pain and emptiness, I had the great joy of knowing that I was sad precisely because God was missing from my life. As soon as I realized that, I cried out to Him, I raised my hands in prayer, and I was not disappointed, I was not deceived.»
My soul refused to be comforted. «During these difficult moments, I refused to accept any worldly comfort, any human consolation.» The search for God is not a search for comfort and consolation. The psalmist tells us that he did only one thing: he raised his hands at night before God. He says «before God,» which means «in the presence of God.» The psalmist is not struggling with bodily illness or any other kind of private pain; he is not troubled by his enemies, or agonizing over the fate of the nation. Instead, he is struggling with God, Whom he must conquer. This is why his hands are raised in prayer, for prayer is the arena in which we wrestle with God, the place where we struggle with Him, and this struggle is the center of the psalmist’s entire life.
The Hebrew again offers us its own accents: «At night my hands are outstretched and do not tire.» Here we see the psalmist as a man who seeks God at night, and who remains in prayer with has hands raised to God. Night is the time of prayer. His soul refuses to be comforted, he has renounced and rejected all things, and now he seeks only God, for only God can help him. «I am not waiting for my troubles to come to an end, but for the wall between us to come falling down so that I might see Your light.»
I remembered God and was glad; I pondered, and my spirit became discouraged. selah
Here the Hebrew is very different: «I want to think of God, and I must moan, I want to ponder, and my spirit languishes.» These are the words of a fallen man; of someone who is not able to do anything based on his own strength or abilities. In this way, the Hebrew presents the psalmist as struggling in vain, for God remains an invisible presence, but nonetheless ready to intervene and help. The Septuagint version, which reflects a Greek mentality, from the outset frames the psalmist’s struggle in light of the victory that will be his at the end. The Greek translator has been influenced by the outcome of the struggle, and thus he renders the verses as a series of steps leading to victory: first comes the cry of the heart; second the will and commitment to struggle; and third the standing before God, which occurs through the remembrance and recollection of God. Influenced by the dynamics of spiritual experience, the Greek translator stresses that God, Who has promised to rescue and save the psalmist, will surely do so. Because God has promised to come, it’s as if He’s already there.
I remembered God and was glad. «The mere thought of God, the simple remembrance of Him, filled me with joy. The only time I’m happy is when I think of God. Nothing else brings me joy, nothing else fills me like the remembrance of God does.» This verse describes the search for God and God’s response. To remember God is to experience joy.