Psalm 78

Psalm 78

Tell the Coming Generation

A Maskil of Asaph.

78   Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
    incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
  I will open my mouth in a parable;
    I will utter dark sayings from of old,
  things that we have heard and known,
    that our fathers have told us.
  We will not hide them from their children,
    but tell to the coming generation
  the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
    and the wonders that he has done.
  He established a testimony in Jacob
    and appointed a law in Israel,
  which he commanded our fathers
    to teach to their children,
  that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
  and arise and tell them to their children,
    so that they should set their hope in God
  and not forget the works of God,
    but keep his commandments;
  and that they should not be like their fathers,
    a stubborn and rebellious generation,
  a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
    whose spirit was not faithful to God.
  The Ephraimites, armed with the bow,
    turned back on the day of battle.
  They did not keep God’s covenant,
    but refused to walk according to his law.
  They forgot his works
    and the wonders that he had shown them.
  In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders
    in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
  He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
    and made the waters stand like a heap.
  In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
    and all the night with a fiery light.
  He split rocks in the wilderness
    and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
  He made streams come out of the rock
    and caused waters to flow down like rivers.
  Yet they sinned still more against him,
    rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
  They tested God in their heart
    by demanding the food they craved.
  They spoke against God, saying,
    “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
  He struck the rock so that water gushed out
    and streams overflowed.
  Can he also give bread
    or provide meat for his people?”
  Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath;
    a fire was kindled against Jacob;
    his anger rose against Israel,
  because they did not believe in God
    and did not trust his saving power.
  Yet he commanded the skies above
    and opened the doors of heaven,
  and he rained down on them manna to eat
    and gave them the grain of heaven.
  Man ate of the bread of the angels;
    he sent them food in abundance.
  He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
    and by his power he led out the south wind;
  he rained meat on them like dust,
    winged birds like the sand of the seas;
  he let them fall in the midst of their camp,
    all around their dwellings.
  And they ate and were well filled,
    for he gave them what they craved.
  But before they had satisfied their craving,
    while the food was still in their mouths,
  the anger of God rose against them,
    and he killed the strongest of them
    and laid low the young men of Israel.
  In spite of all this, they still sinned;
    despite his wonders, they did not believe.
  So he made their days vanish like a breath,
    and their years in terror.
  When he killed them, they sought him;
    they repented and sought God earnestly.
  They remembered that God was their rock,
    the Most High God their redeemer.
  But they flattered him with their mouths;
    they lied to him with their tongues.
  Their heart was not steadfast toward him;
    they were not faithful to his covenant.
  Yet he, being compassionate,
    atoned for their iniquity
    and did not destroy them;
  he restrained his anger often
    and did not stir up all his wrath.
  He remembered that they were but flesh,
    a wind that passes and comes not again.
  How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
    and grieved him in the desert!
  They tested God again and again
    and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
  They did not remember his power
    or the day when he redeemed them from the foe,
  when he performed his signs in Egypt
    and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.
  He turned their rivers to blood,
    so that they could not drink of their streams.
  He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them,
    and frogs, which destroyed them.
  He gave their crops to the destroying locust
    and the fruit of their labor to the locust.
  He destroyed their vines with hail
    and their sycamores with frost.
  He gave over their cattle to the hail
    and their flocks to thunderbolts.
  He let loose on them his burning anger,
    wrath, indignation, and distress,
    a company of destroying angels.
  He made a path for his anger;
    he did not spare them from death,
    but gave their lives over to the plague.
  He struck down every firstborn in Egypt,
    the firstfruits of their strength in the tents of Ham.
  Then he led out his people like sheep
    and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
  He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid,
    but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
  And he brought them to his holy land,
    to the mountain which his right hand had won.
  He drove out nations before them;
    he apportioned them for a possession
    and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.
  Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God
    and did not keep his testimonies,
  but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers;
    they twisted like a deceitful bow.
  For they provoked him to anger with their high places;
    they moved him to jealousy with their idols.
  When God heard, he was full of wrath,
    and he utterly rejected Israel.
  He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh,
    the tent where he dwelt among mankind,
  and delivered his power to captivity,
    his glory to the hand of the foe.
  He gave his people over to the sword
    and vented his wrath on his heritage.
  Fire devoured their young men,
    and their young women had no marriage song.
  Their priests fell by the sword,
    and their widows made no lamentation.
  Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
    like a strong man shouting because of wine.
  And he put his adversaries to rout;
    he put them to everlasting shame.
  He rejected the tent of Joseph;
    he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
  but he chose the tribe of Judah,
    Mount Zion, which he loves.
  He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
    like the earth, which he has founded forever.
  He chose David his servant
    and took him from the sheepfolds;
  from following the nursing ewes he brought him
    to shepherd Jacob his people,
    Israel his inheritance.
  With upright heart he shepherded them
    and guided them with his skillful hand.


Psalm 78 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Coming off the heels of Psalm 77 where we are to remember God’s faithfulness, we now move into the action steps behind those memories. At the end of Psalm 77, I wrote that we must not just remember God’s faithfulness, but treasure it. Treasured memories were meant to be shared.

I remember many hilarious and inspiring stories from my childhood. I will never forget watching Ryne Sandberg (my favorite baseball player) crank out a home run in my first ever visit to Wrigley Field. I will never forget when my mom encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone to engage in a random act of kindness outside our local grocery store.

I will forever cherish the memories of playing basketball with my dad in the driveway after he came home from work. These are stories that have shaped who I am as well as who my children will become. In the same way that I fondly reminisce on these stories, the psalmist encourages God’s people to remember the miraculous acts of God. However, it is not just a call to remember them, but to share them.

We will not keep them from our children; we will tell the next generation about the LORD’s power and his great deeds and the wonderful things he has done.

Psalms 78:4 GNB

If you read through the entire psalm, you realize that these teachings were not enough to keep the human heart from the corruption of sin.

In spite of all this the people kept sinning; in spite of his miracles they did not trust him.

Psalms 78:32 GNB

Let’s just think on this point for a moment as New Covenant followers. Israel’s ancestors were powerless to defeat sin. So, in His unending grace, God sent Jesus to defeat sin and death and free us from the bondage of sin. Yet, even today, there are Christians who currently are “continuing to sin in spite of His miracles.” What does this mean? The text clearly tells us, we do not trust Him. Trusting the sacrifice of Christ means obedience! This can only come out of the joy of being rescued from our hopelessness!

A person standing on the train tracks who is pushed out of the way at the last moment to save his life is both joyful and grateful for the one who rescued him. A person whose heart stops beating is both jubilant and indebted to the one who provides CPR until the ambulance can arrive. A person who is dead in their sin and facing the gruesome penalty of eternal separation from God is filled with abundant joy and ceaseless admiration for the sacrifice made by Jesus in order to stop the heinous cycle of sin! Does this describe you currently? Why not?

The retelling of God’s faithful works should be shared. We call them testimonies. However, our testimony is not what provides the power to defeat sin in our life. Only the blood of Jesus can do that. However, something powerful happens when we dedicate our lives to both of these ideas. Just read the power that’s found in the blood of Jesus and the words of our testimony!

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have now come, because the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been thrown down. [11] They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; for they did not love their lives to the point of death.

Revelation 12:10-11 CSB

The promised defeat of Satan is fueled by the blood of the Lamb, the verbal witness of believers, and finally, the martyrdom of committed followers of Christ. Let us tell of the mighty works of God while remembering that the true power is only made available through the blood of our King Jesus!

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Wonderful explanation!! Thank you