Mercy, Over and Over Again

Psalm 78:54-72

54 And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.

55 He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.

56 Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies:

57 But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.

58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.

59 When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel:

The writer continues to look at the history of how Israel has provoked the Lord time after time after time. It’s amazing to me seeing the mercy of God toward Israel. And we know that the Old Testament Israelites are a picture of our lives, so we can take solace in the fact that God will have mercy on us tin the same way. I know He has for me. I can tell you several instances where I have really messed up before God and yet He forgave me. Out of one incident He even gave me a brand new ministry. He’s such a loving God.  He is so merciful

God brings his people to the mountain of God, which it says He purchased, and he threw out all the heathen and divided the land for the people. They finally had their own land, their own country. God drove out the other groups of people that were there. If you look at the accounts of the victories that Israel had you’ll see how God intervened over and over again. At Jericho, the walls fell down.  At Ai after losing because of sin, God gives instructions for victory.  Against the Amorite Kings, God sends them into confusion and the sends hail stones.  Over and over, God handed the enemy to Israel. And He will intervene in our affairs when the enemy gets too hard and too rough. And then we will be able to dwell in safety, because He has provided us the land and given us our inheritance through Jesus Christ Our Lord.  Hallelujah!

But Israel still was not content.  After seeing God move on their behalf in all these battles, they still turn back from God and provoke him to anger.  They set up high places which were places where they worship other gods. The writer says that when God saw this, He was wroth and was very mad at Israel.

60 So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;

61 And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand.

62 He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.

63 The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.

64 Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.

Now God forsook the Tabernacle at Shiloh. He delivered His strength into captivity His glory into the enemy’s hand.  He actually gave His people over and the enemy consume you young men by fire, the maidens were not given in marriage and the priest fell by the sword. What a terrible thing to happen. It makes me think that this was written many years after David. Some commentaries I’ve read says some of these psalms were written by the family of Asaph. So this very well could have been written after Israel went into captivity. It certainly describes that quite well

65 Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.

66 And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.

67 Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim:

68 But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.

69 And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.

Then God awake, like He had been sleeping.  I’m sure it seemed to Israel like He was sleeping when they ere taken into captivity.  Here they had won their battles, they were living in the land, and now they were taken away to another land, prisoners.  They did not listen  to the warnings of the prophets, they had turned their back on God, and this was the consequence to Israel.

However, God separated out Judah.  Not Joseph (Benjamin). mot Ephraim, but Judah.  when the nation split under Reheboam, the twn tribes to the north became Israel, and Judah and Benjamin became joined together under he banner of Judah.  Israel was taken captive,  God turned away that enemy before they could take Judah as well.  God spared Judah because at least some of the kings were still honoroing Him.

70 He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:

71 From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.

72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.

God chose David lineage because of the integrity of David’s heart, and because they were guided skillfully by David’s hands. When you hear that, you get the feeling David was pretty good.  But when you take a look at David’s life, you see that he had plenty of problems. He was not perfect. He had a man murdered so he could have his wife, his own son rebelled against him and David had to go into hiding while he was still king, and he numbered the people when he did not have to, among other things.  God does not expect us to be perfect. He wants us to strive to be perfect, which is a lifelong pursuit. David made plenty of mistakes and yet the bible tells us he was a man after God’s Own Heart (Acts 13:22).   I believe that is because David was repentant before the Lord when he knew he had disobeyed God.  He lived a life of repentance, and that is what God expects from us.  Let us live as David lived to please the Lord in everything that we do.

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