A psalm of Asaph. O my people, listen to my teaching. Open your ears to what I am saying,
for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past --
stories we have heard and know, stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did.
For he issued his decree to Jacob; he gave his law to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them -- even the children not yet born -- that they in turn might teach their children.
So each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.
Then they will not be like their ancestors -- stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.
The warriors of Ephraim, though fully armed, turned their backs and fled when the day of battle came.
They did not keep God's covenant, and they refused to live by his law.
They forgot what he had done -- the wonderful miracles he had shown them,
the miracles he did for their ancestors in Egypt, on the plain of Zoan.
For he divided the sea before them and led them through! The water stood up like walls beside them!
In the daytime he led them by a cloud, and at night by a pillar of fire.
He split open the rocks in the wilderness to give them plenty of water, as from a gushing spring.
He made streams pour from the rock, making the waters flow down like a river!
Yet they kept on with their sin, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
They willfully tested God in their hearts, demanding the foods they craved.
They even spoke against God himself, saying, "God can't give us food in the desert.
Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out, but he can't give his people bread and meat."
When the LORD heard them, he was angry. The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob. Yes, his anger rose against Israel,
for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them.
But he commanded the skies to open -- he opened the doors of heaven --
and rained down manna for them to eat. He gave them bread from heaven.
They ate the food of angels! God gave them all they could hold.
He released the east wind in the heavens and guided the south wind by his mighty power.
He rained down meat as thick as dust -- birds as plentiful as the sands along the seashore!
He caused the birds to fall within their camp and all around their tents.
The people ate their fill. He gave them what they wanted.
But before they finished eating this food they had craved, while the meat was yet in their mouths,
the anger of God rose against them, and he killed their strongest men; he struck down the finest of Israel's young men.
But in spite of this, the people kept on sinning. They refused to believe in his miracles.
So he ended their lives in failure and gave them years of terror.
When God killed some of them, the rest finally sought him. They repented and turned to God.
Then they remembered that God was their rock, that their redeemer was the Most High.
But they followed him only with their words; they lied to him with their tongues.
Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant.
Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and didn't destroy them all. Many a time he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury!
For he remembered that they were merely mortal, gone in a moment like a breath of wind, never to return.
Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the desert and grieved his heart in the wilderness.
Again and again they tested God's patience and frustrated the Holy One of Israel.
They forgot about his power and how he rescued them from their enemies.
They forgot his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders on the plain of Zoan.
For he turned their rivers into blood, so no one could drink from the streams.
He sent vast swarms of flies to consume them and hordes of frogs to ruin them.
He gave their crops to caterpillars; their harvest was consumed by locusts.
He destroyed their grapevines with hail and shattered their sycamores with sleet.
He abandoned their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning.
He loosed on them his fierce anger -- all his fury, rage, and hostility. He dispatched against them a band of destroying angels.
He turned his anger against them; he did not spare the Egyptians' lives but handed them over to the plague.
He killed the oldest son in each Egyptian family, the flower of youth throughout the land of Egypt. a52
But he led his own people like a flock of sheep, guiding them safely through the wilderness.
He kept them safe so they were not afraid; but the sea closed in upon their enemies.
He brought them to the border of his holy land, to this land of hills he had won for them.
He drove out the nations before them; he gave them their inheritance by lot. He settled the tribes of Israel into their homes.
Yet though he did all this for them, they continued to test his patience. They rebelled against the Most High and refused to follow his decrees.
They turned back and were as faithless as their parents had been. They were as useless as a crooked bow.
They made God angry by building altars to other gods; they made him jealous with their idols.
When God heard them, he was very angry, and he rejected Israel completely.
Then he abandoned his dwelling at Shiloh, the Tabernacle where he had lived among the people.
He allowed the Ark of his might to be captured; he surrendered his glory into enemy hands.
He gave his people over to be butchered by the sword, because he was so angry with his own people -- his special possession.
Their young men were killed by fire; their young women died before singing their wedding songs.
Their priests were slaughtered, and their widows could not mourn their deaths.
Then the Lord rose up as though waking from sleep, like a mighty man aroused from a drunken stupor.
He routed his enemies and sent them to eternal shame.
But he rejected Joseph's descendants; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim.
He chose instead the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loved.
There he built his towering sanctuary, as solid and enduring as the earth itself.
He chose his servant David, calling him from the sheep pens.
He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob's descendants -- God's own people, Israel.
He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)