Listen, my people, to my teaching; tilt your ears toward the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a proverb. I'll declare riddles from days long gone—
ones that we've heard and learned about, ones that our ancestors told us.
We won't hide them from their descendants; we'll tell the next generation all about the praise due the LORD and his strength— the wondrous works God has done.
He established a law for Jacob and set up Instruction for Israel, ordering our ancestors to teach them to their children.
This is so that the next generation and children not yet born will know these things, and so they can rise up and tell their children
to put their hope in God— never forgetting God's deeds, but keeping God's commandments—
and so that they won't become like their ancestors: a rebellious, stubborn generation, a generation whose heart wasn't set firm and whose spirit wasn't faithful to God.
The children of Ephraim, armed with bows, retreated on the day of battle.
They didn't keep God's covenant; they refused to walk in his Instruction.
They forgot God's deeds as well as the wondrous works he showed them.
But God performed wonders in their ancestors' presence— in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
God split the sea and led them through, making the waters stand up like a wall.
God led them with the cloud by day; by the lightning all through the night.
God split rocks open in the wilderness, gave them plenty to drink— as if from the deep itself!
God made streams flow from the rock, made water run like rivers.
But they continued to sin against God, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
They tested God in their hearts, demanded food for their stomachs.
They spoke against God! "Can God set a dinner table in the wilderness?" they asked.
"True, God struck the rock and water gushed and streams flowed, but can he give bread too? Can he provide meat for his people?"
When the LORD heard this, he became furious. A fire was ignited against Jacob; wrath also burned against Israel
because they had no faith in God, because they didn't trust his saving power.
God gave orders to the skies above, opened heaven's doors,
and rained manna on them so they could eat. He gave them the very grain of heaven!
Each person ate the bread of the powerful ones; God sent provisions to satisfy them.
God set the east wind moving across the skies and drove the south wind by his strength.
He rained meat on them as if it were dust in the air; he rained as many birds as the sand on the seashore!
God brought the birds down in the center of their camp, all around their dwellings.
So they ate and were completely satisfied; God gave them exactly what they had craved.
But they didn't stop craving— even with the food still in their mouths!
So God's anger came up against them: he killed the most hearty of them; he cut down Israel's youth in their prime.
But in spite of all that, they kept sinning and had no faith in God's wondrous works.
So God brought their days to an end, like a puff of air, and their years in total ruin.
But whenever God killed them, they went after him! They would turn and earnestly search for God.
They would remember that God was their rock, that the Most High was their redeemer.
But they were just flattering him with lip service. They were lying to him with their tongues.
Their hearts weren't firmly set on him; they weren't faithful to his covenant.
But God, being compassionate, kept forgiving their sins, kept avoiding destruction; he took back his anger so many times, wouldn't stir up all his wrath!
God kept remembering that they were just flesh, just breath that passes and doesn't come back.
How often they rebelled against God in the wilderness and distressed him in the desert!
Time and time again they tested God, provoking the holy one of Israel.
They didn't remember God's power— the day when he saved them from the enemy;
how God performed his signs in Egypt, his marvelous works in the field of Zoan.
God turned their rivers into blood; they couldn't drink from their own streams.
God sent swarms against them to eat them up, frogs to destroy them.
God handed over their crops to caterpillars, their land's produce to locusts.
God killed their vines with hail, their sycamore trees with frost.
God delivered their cattle over to disease, their herds to plagues.
God unleashed his burning anger against them— fury, indignation, distress, a troop of evil messengers.
God blazed a path for his wrath. He didn't save them from death, but delivered their lives over to disease.
God struck down all of Egypt's oldest males; in Ham's tents, he struck their pride and joy.
God led his own people out like sheep, guiding them like a flock in the wilderness.
God led them in safety—they were not afraid! But the sea engulfed their enemies!
God brought them to his holy territory, to the mountain that his own strong hand had acquired.
God drove out the nations before them and apportioned property for them; he settled Israel's tribes in their tents.
But they tested and defied the Most High God; they didn't pay attention to his warnings.
They turned away, became faithless just like their ancestors; they twisted away like a defective bow.
They angered God with their many shrines; they angered him with their idols.
God heard and became enraged; he rejected Israel utterly.
God abandoned the sanctuary at Shiloh, the tent where he had lived with humans.
God let his power be held captive, let his glory go to the enemy's hand.
God delivered his people up to the sword; he was enraged at his own possession.
Fire devoured his young men, and his young women had no wedding songs.
God's priests were killed by the sword, and his widows couldn't even cry.
But then my Lord woke up— as if he'd been sleeping! Like a warrior shaking off wine,
God beat back his foes; he made them an everlasting disgrace.
God rejected the tent of Joseph and didn't choose the tribe of Ephraim.
Instead, he chose the tribe of Judah, the mountain of Zion, which he loves.
God built his sanctuary like the highest heaven and like the earth, which he established forever.
And God chose David, his servant, taking him from the sheepfolds.
God brought him from shepherding nursing ewes to shepherd his people Jacob, to shepherd his inheritance, Israel.
David shepherded them with a heart of integrity; he led them with the skill of his hands.