The seventy-ninth Psalm is a communal lament. It expresses alarm that invading foreigners have profaned the Temple and destroyed Jerusalem, the heart of Jewish faith and culture. The ancients interpreted disaster as divine disfavor. Over and over, the prophets cautioned people against faithlessness. Such crimes and warnings are deeply embedded in the Old Testament. Should we accept the blaming of the ancestors? Certainly the preceding generations were not totally virtuous.
Here, a small excerpt from the middle of the psalm:
Do not remember against us the iniquities of our (ancestors);
let your compassion move quickly ahead of us,
for we have been brought very low.
Help us, God our savior,
on account of the glory of your name.
Deliver us, pardon our sins
for your name’s sake.
A more honest person of faith, while acknowledging the sins of the past, would also look within and admit their own faults. The psalmist often does this, but in context of this text, it is the community who is examining their misfortune, struggling to reason things out. As hard as it is for an individual to self-examine for sin, it seems that these days, it is so much harder for a group.