Psalm 78 (NIV)
Everyone knows the old adage:
Those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it.
I think of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, following in the pattern of Jeroboam-who-made-Israel-to-sin.
“Psalm 78 is the longest of the historical psalms. Its lesson is that history must not repeat itself. The people must never again be unbelieving.”
–James Montgomery Boice
1 My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Centuries later the Apostle Paul would explain that one of the great advantages God gave to Israel was that He committed to them His word, the oracles of God (Romans 3:2).
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their ancestors—
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.
1 Corinthians 10:11-12 (NIV)
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
9 The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows,
turned back on the day of battle;
10 they did not keep God’s covenant
and refused to live by his law.
11 They forgot what he had done,
the wonders he had shown them.
“Forgot; not historically, but practically. They did not so remember them, as to love, and serve, and trust that God of whose infinite power and goodness they had such ample experience.”
–Matthew Poole (1624-1679, English Nonconformist theologian
12 He did miracles in the sight of their ancestors
in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and led them through;
he made the water stand up like a wall.
14 He guided them with the cloud by day
and with light from the fire all night.
Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.
15 He split the rocks in the wilderness
and gave them water as abundant as the seas;
16 he brought streams out of a rocky crag
and made water flow down like rivers.
17 But they continued to sin against him,
rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High.
18 They willfully put God to the test
by demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God;
they said, “Can God really
spread a table in the wilderness?
In 1933, the middle of the Great Depression, a young Irishman named J. Edwin Orr left a good paying job. With no fixed source of income, he trusted that God would provide for him and his mother. He planned to travel around Great Britain with the message of prayer, salvation, and revival. He left Belfast with 2 shillings and 8 pence, about 65 cents. He had a bicycle, a change of clothes, and a Bible. He spent the next year travelling to every county in Great Britain and organized some 300 prayer groups dedicated to pray for revival. He wrote a book about it all and somehow convinced a publisher to take it, after being rejected 17 times. That first book was titled Can God — ? It was based on Psalm 78:19, and was published in 1934. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies and was a tremendous inspiration to Christians in that day. Orr’s book and his life was a remarkable demonstration of the fact that God can prepare a table in the wilderness.
20 True, he struck the rock,
and water gushed out,
streams flowed abundantly,
but can he also give us bread?
Can he supply meat for his people?”
21 When the LORD heard them, he was furious;
God was “furious” at their ingratitude. That is food for thought in our lives which are, let’s be honest, pretty easy, pretty comfortable. Are we careful to be thankful rather than to complain?
his fire broke out against Jacob,
and his wrath rose against Israel,
22 for they did not believe in God
or trust in his deliverance.
23 Yet he gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens;
24 he rained down manna for the people to eat,
he gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Human beings ate the bread of angels;
he sent them all the food they could eat.
Manna in the Morning
have long disappeared
from the desert.
But the story remains:
how the Israelites
under a spiral
of swirling white clouds
as angels swept
stones and snakes
from their path.
For forty years,
Jews followed Moses
with manna-filled bellies,
thirst quenched by
a wondrous wandering well–
the same fountain I sipped
this candle-lit evening
with honeyed challah
and roasted chicken.
Carrying dishes to the sink,
my sandaled feet skip
on a freshly swept floor,
free of snakes and stones.
Tonight, Pharaoh lies drowned
and I am traveling to Canaan
under a sheltering white cloud,
certain of manna in the morning.
26 He let loose the east wind from the heavens
and by his power made the south wind blow.
27 He rained meat down on them like dust,
birds like sand on the seashore.
28 He made them come down inside their camp,
all around their tents.
29 They ate till they were gorged—
he had given them what they craved.
30 But before they turned from what they craved,
even while the food was still in their mouths,
31 God’s anger rose against them;
he put to death the sturdiest among them,
cutting down the young men of Israel.
32 In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;
in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.
What more could God have done? The tragedy of hard hearts!
33 So he ended their days in futility
and their years in terror.
34 Whenever God slew them, they would seek him;
they eagerly turned to him again.
Hosea 5:15 (ESV)
I will return again to my place,
until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,
and in their distress earnestly seek me.
35 They remembered that God was their Rock,
that God Most High was their Redeemer.
36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths,
lying to him with their tongues;
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a passing breeze that does not return.
Psalm 103:15-18 (ESV)
As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD
is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved him in the wasteland!
41 Again and again they put God to the test;
they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power—
the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,
43 the day he displayed his signs in Egypt,
his wonders in the region of Zoan.
44 He turned their river into blood;
they could not drink from their streams.
45 He sent swarms of flies that devoured them,
and frogs that devastated them.
46 He gave their crops to the grasshopper,
their produce to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail
and their sycamore-figs with sleet.
48 He gave over their cattle to the hail,
their livestock to bolts of lightning.
49 He unleashed against them his hot anger,
his wrath, indignation and hostility—
a band of destroying angels.
50 He prepared a path for his anger;
he did not spare them from death
but gave them over to the plague.
51 He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt,
the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham.
52 But he brought his people out like a flock;
he led them like sheep through the wilderness.
53 He guided them safely, so they were unafraid;
but the sea engulfed their enemies.
54 And so he brought them to the border of his holy land,
to the hill country his right hand had taken.
55 He drove out nations before them
and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance;
he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.
Acts 13:16-20 (NLT)
So Paul stood, lifted his hand to quiet them, and started speaking. “Men of Israel,” he said, “and you God-fearing Gentiles, listen to me.
“The God of this nation of Israel chose our ancestors and made them multiply and grow strong during their stay in Egypt. Then with a powerful arm he led them out of their slavery. He put up with them through forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Then he destroyed seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to Israel as an inheritance. All this took about 450 years.”
56 But they put God to the test
and rebelled against the Most High;
they did not keep his statutes.
57 Like their ancestors they were disloyal and faithless,
as unreliable as a faulty bow.
58 They angered him with their high places;
they aroused his jealousy with their idols.
59 When God heard them, he was furious;
he rejected Israel completely.
God is “furious” again — this time for idolatry, for valuing things over God. Do we yield our lives entirely to his will? Is the Lord truly first as we consider what to think, to say, to do?
60 He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh,
the tent he had set up among humans.
61 He sent the ark of his might into captivity,
his splendor into the hands of the enemy.
62 He gave his people over to the sword;
he was furious with his inheritance.
63 Fire consumed their young men,
and their young women had no wedding songs;
64 their priests were put to the sword,
and their widows could not weep.
Psalm 6:8-10 (NLT)
Go away, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord will answer my prayer.
May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified.
May they suddenly turn back in shame.
65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
66 He beat back his enemies;
he put them to everlasting shame.
67 Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loved.
69 He built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth that he established forever.
70 He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
71 from tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.
“If Israel’s record is her shame, God’s persistent goodness emerges as her hope (and ours) for the unfinished story.”
–Derek Kidner (1913-2008, British Old Testament scholar)
One of my favorites from David and Isaac Watts! HERE is “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need,” which contains some of the most comforting lines I know:
The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be mine abode, and all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest, while others go and come,
No more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.
New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
seek my face. https://fruitfulfellowship.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/seekmyface.jpg?w=365&h=365&crop=1