Psalm 78:1-53 (I tried to make a shorter post, but there was not really another good place to divide this Psalm. I will try to keep comments to a minimum due to length)
1 Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
Asaph decides it’s time that the people heard what God has done in the past, so he’s going to tell them. It was the father’s job to pass these things on from family-to-family down through the generations. But something has happened that Asaph felt that he had to remind them again. He says we will not hide the wonders God has done in the past from our children. We will show them to the next generation so they will remember His strength and His wonderful works.
How about your family? Are you passing blessings on to the next generation? Are you telling your children about the power of almighty God and the work that He has done? I’m not talking about the works in the Bible, although that is important. It’s important that they know about the plagues and the Red Sea experience. It’s important that they know about King David and the struggles that he went through. It’s important to know about Gideon and Samson and Ruth and Esther. All of these things are important. But what is more important is that you share your testimony and what God has done for you. Your children need to know that God is a personal God. Our God is one that can solve their problems, help them through the biggest trials, heal them when they’re sick and provide for them financially when they need it. And it’s your testimony that will tell him these things.
5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:
6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.
Asaph reminds us that God established a testimony with Jacob so that future generations would will know that they are his children. It’s important that they we rise up and tell her the stories to our children. Why would they want to do this? So they can set their hope in the Lord. And so that they might not be like those who are stubborn and rebellious to God.
I have heard it said recently that teenage suicide is on the rise. In Japan it’s almost at epidemic levels. Why? I think it’s because they don’t have any hope. They say the world is literally a mess. They see rioting in the streets and politicians not doing anything they said they were going to do. They see a mediocre education establishment that doesn’t meet their needs. Theyy see parents who don’t care about their kid, even if their parents do care. Many of them are home alone most of the time as their parents have to work two jobs. If we don’t fix this, it will go on and it’ll get worse. We need to instill hope in our children again – hope for a better future. Hope that they can do more than it seems they can do
9 The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.
10 They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law;
11 And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.
In a brief turning away from history Asaph sttartedtalking about, he talks about Ephraim, who tried to go out to battle but lost. The reason that they lost was they did not keep the Covenant of God, they forgot his works and they refused to walk in his way. I take this as a warning to us. I for one do not want to lose a battle. I want to be victorious. In order to do that I need to follow God because He will win the battle for me
12 Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.
14 In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.
15 He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.
16 He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.
17 And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.
18 And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.
19 Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
20 Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
21 Therefore the Lord heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;
22 Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:
23 Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,
24 And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.
25 Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.
26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.
27 He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:
28 And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.
29 So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire;
30 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths,
31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.
32 For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.
Now Asaph gets into some of the history and I could spend a lot of time on this, but I’m not going to. If you are not familiar with these events, you can find a lot of this in the books of Exodus and Numbers. But I will talk about a few things after we briefly look at what he has here. Asaph tells them that God has done marvelous things in the sight of their forefathers. He divided the sea, He led them by a cloud in the daytime and a fire at night, He made water come out of a rock. God gave them angels food to eat and they were still hungry, so they complain to God. God heard their complaint and He brought quails into the camp – hundreds of thousands of quails. They gathered them up and they were still upset with God.
First I want to talk about the cloud and the fire. Have you ever been in a position where you didn’t feel like God was leading you anymore? Have you felt like He had abandoned you? The nation of Israel probably felt that way when they were in the wilderness. If you look at the number of times they complained, they certainly couldn’t have believe that God was with them. However the cloud was there everyday and the fire was there every night. When those two things stopped the nation of Israel stop. When they lifted off of the tabernacle and moved the nation of Israel moved. Sometimes it was just a few days, other times it might have been a few years. God led them in the wilderness. He was with them all the time and He is also with us all the time. Even when we’re going through the most difficult battles and we don’t think He’s there, He is!
The nation of Israel complained because they didn’t have meat. Yet God was giving them bread 6 days a week and it was plenty to keep them full. I can still hear it today. My kids, when they were younger, going into the kitchen and opening up the cabinets and the refrigerator and saying there’s nothing to eat. But there’s plenty of food out there – there’s just nothing that they wanted. So they said there’s nothing to eat. If some poor tribe in the middle of Africa had the food that we had they would be jumping up and down rejoicing and praising God for the bounty that God was giving them. The nation of Israel was a lot like my children. Here God was giving them food every single day, miraculous food that they could make into bread or muffins or do all kinds of things with. And yet they complained. They were complaining while God was providing. Heaven forbid we ever become like Israel. Let’s rejoice and thank God and make do with what He gives us
33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.
34 When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.
35 And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.
36 Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.
37 For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.
38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
Asaph talks about Israel being in the wilderness for 40 years and God led them step by step through the wilderness. But they cry and complained so much that God decided they would stay there until many of them died. There were also times that God rose up and actually caused their death because they were so insolent. Griping and complaining against God is not going to get us anywhere with Him. That’s pride talking, saying I deserve to be blessed Lord! You brought me out here, so you should provide for me! I deserve it, Lord. You don’t deserve anything from God! Anything He gives you is a plus and it’s merciful. The only thing you deserve from God is death for your sin. But he gave you life Everlasting
In verse 36 Asaph says that they flatter and with their tongue but they lie with their tongue because their heart wasn’t right. How easy it is to lift up praises to God let still bear a grudge against a brother. God says we should take make peace with our brother first, then lift our praise to Him. We have a mandate to love because God, who is full of compassion, forgive us and didn’t destroy us. He remembers that we are but flesh. I’m so glad that our God is a God of mercy or we’d all be dead
40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!
41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
42 They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.
43 How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan.
44 And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink.
45 He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.
46 He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost.
48 He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.
49 He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.
50 He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence;
51 And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:
52 But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53 And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
God came through for them and they turned their back on Him again and again. They forgot what he could do, and did not remember all the wonders that he had done. I mean these are the same people that came through the Red Sea, the same people that saw the plagues committed in Egypt, the same people that saw the Holy Mountain with smoke and fire and heard the voice speak out of it to Moses, the same people to whom the Ten Commandments were given. How is it if they got so far from God that they couldn’t remember all His blessings?
How about us? Do we get down and out? Do we remember all the wonderful things God has done for us in the past? we a=were sinners and He saved us from hell, if we are still alive, He healed us at some point, He provided a family for us and friends, and a job. I could fill pages with all the blessings. And now we are down? Remember the past things He has done and rejoice!
Asaph lists some of the different plagues when they came out of Egypt, ending up with the first born son being killed. God made a way of escape for the Israelites from Egypt and he makes a way of Escape for us for the ravages of sin, so that we might be able to have communion with Him. Does that show you how much God loves you? Does that show you how much God wants to have a relationship with you? Never forget how much He has done for you!