Psalms 78

Listen to Psalms 78
1 1Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 2I will open my mouth 3in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known, that our 4fathers have told us.
4 We will not 5hide them from their children, but 6tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and 7the wonders that he has done.
5 He established 8a testimony in 9Jacob and appointed a law in 10Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,
6 that 11the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget 12the works of God, but 13keep his commandments;
8 and that they should not be 14like their fathers, 15a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation 16whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.
9 The Ephraimites, armed with[a] the bow, 17turned back on the day of battle.
10 They 18did not keep God's covenant, but refused to walk according to his law.
11 They 19forgot his works and 20the wonders that he had shown them.
12 In the sight of their fathers 21he performed wonders in the land of Egypt, in 22the fields of Zoan.
13 He 23divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters 24stand like a heap.
14 25In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light.
15 He 26split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
16 He made streams come out of 27the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.
17 Yet they sinned still more against him, 28rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18 They 29tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God, saying, 30"Can God 31spread a table in the wilderness?
20 32He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?"
21 Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath; 33a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel,
22 because they 34did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power.
23 Yet he commanded the skies above and 35opened the doors of heaven,
24 and he 36rained down on them manna to eat and gave them 37the grain of heaven.
25 Man ate of the bread of 38the angels; he sent them food 39in abundance.
26 He 40caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind;
27 he rained meat on them like 41dust, winged birds like 42the sand of the seas;
28 he 43let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their dwellings.
29 And they 44ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they 45craved.
30 But before they had satisfied their craving, 46while the food was still in their mouths,
31 the anger of God rose against them, and he killed 47the strongest of them and laid low 48the young men of Israel.
32 In spite of all this, they 49still sinned; 50despite his wonders, they did not believe.
33 So he made 51their days 52vanish like[b] a breath,[c] and their years in terror.
34 When he killed them, they 53sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly.
35 They remembered that God was their 54rock, the Most High God their 55redeemer.
36 But they 56flattered him with their mouths; they 57lied to him with their tongues.
37 Their 58heart was not 59steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he, being 60compassionate, 61atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 He 62remembered that they were but 63flesh, 64a wind that passes and comes not again.
40 How often they 65rebelled against him in the wilderness and 66grieved him in 67the desert!
41 They 68tested God again and again and provoked 69the Holy One of Israel.
42 They 70did not remember his power[d] or the day when he redeemed them from the foe,
43 71when he performed his 72signs in Egypt and his 73marvels in 74the fields of Zoan.
44 He 75turned their rivers to blood, so that they could not drink of their streams.
45 He sent among them swarms of 76flies, which devoured them, and 77frogs, which destroyed them.
46 He gave their crops to 78the destroying locust and the fruit of their labor to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with 79hail and their sycamores with frost.
48 He gave over their 80cattle to the hail and their flocks to thunderbolts.
49 He let loose on them his burning anger, wrath, indignation, and distress, a company of 81destroying angels.
50 He made a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death, but gave their lives over to the plague.
51 He struck down every 82firstborn in Egypt, the firstfruits of their strength in the tents of 83Ham.
52 Then he led out his people 84like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53 85He led them in safety, so that they 86were not afraid, but 87the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54 And he brought them to his 88holy land, 89to the mountain which his right hand had 90won.
55 He 91drove out nations before them; he 92apportioned them for a possession and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.
56 Yet they 93tested and 94rebelled against the Most High God and did not keep his testimonies,
57 but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers; they twisted like 95a deceitful bow.
58 For they 96provoked him to anger with their 97high places; they 98moved him to jealousy with their 99idols.
59 When God heard, he was full of 100wrath, and he utterly rejected Israel.
60 He 101forsook his dwelling at 102Shiloh, the tent where he dwelt among mankind,
61 and delivered his 103power to captivity, his 104glory to the hand of the foe.
62 He 105gave his people over to the sword and 106vented his wrath on his heritage.
63 107Fire devoured their young men, and their young women had no 108marriage song.
64 Their 109priests fell by the sword, and their 110widows made no lamentation.
65 Then the Lord 111awoke as from sleep, like a strong man shouting because of wine.
66 And he 112put his adversaries to rout; he put them to everlasting shame.
67 He rejected the tent of 113Joseph; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he 114loves.
69 He 115built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever.
70 He 116chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds;
71 from 117following the nursing ewes he brought him to 118shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his 119inheritance.
72 With 120upright heart he shepherded them and 121guided them with his skillful hand.

Psalms 78 Commentary

Chapter 78

Attention called for. (1-8) The history of Israel. (9-39) Their settlement in Canaan. (40-55) The mercies of God to Israel contrasted with their ingratitude. (56-72)

Verses 1-8 These are called dark and deep sayings, because they are carefully to be looked into. The law of God was given with a particular charge to teach it diligently to their children, that the church may abide for ever. Also, that the providences of God, both in mercy and in judgment, might encourage them to conform to the will of God. The works of God much strengthen our resolution to keep his commandments. Hypocrisy is the high road to apostacy; those that do not set their hearts right, will not be stedfast with God. Many parents, by negligence and wickedness, become murderers of their children. But young persons, though they are bound to submit in all things lawful, must not obey sinful orders, or copy sinful examples.

9-39. Sin dispirits men, and takes away the heart. Forgetfulness of God's works is the cause of disobedience to his laws. This narrative relates a struggle between God's goodness and man's badness. The Lord hears all our murmurings and distrusts, and is much displeased. Those that will not believe the power of God's mercy, shall feel the fire of his indignation. Those cannot be said to trust in God's salvation as their happiness at last, who can not trust his providence in the way to it. To all that by faith and prayer, ask, seek, and knock, these doors of heaven shall at any time be opened; and our distrust of God is a great aggravation of our sins. He expressed his resentment of their provocation; not in denying what they sinfully lusted after, but in granting it to them. Lust is contented with nothing. Those that indulge their lust, will never be estranged from it. Those hearts are hard indeed, that will neither be melted by the mercies of the Lord, nor broken by his judgments. Those that sin still, must expect to be in trouble still. And the reason why we live with so little comfort, and to so little purpose, is, because we do not live by faith. Under these rebukes they professed repentance, but they were not sincere, for they were not constant. In Israel's history we have a picture of our own hearts and lives. God's patience, and warnings, and mercies, imbolden them to harden their hearts against his word. And the history of kingdoms is much the same. Judgments and mercies have been little attended to, until the measure of their sins has been full. And higher advantages have not kept churches from declining from the commandments of God. Even true believers recollect, that for many a year they abused the kindness of Providence. When they come to heaven, how will they admire the Lord's patience and mercy in bringing them to his kingdom!

40-55. Let not those that receive mercy from God, be thereby made bold to sin, for the mercies they receive will hasten its punishment; yet let not those who are under Divine rebukes for sin, be discouraged from repentance. The Holy One of Israel will do what is most for his own glory, and what is most for their good. Their forgetting former favours, led them to limit God for the future. God made his own people to go forth like sheep; and guided them in the wilderness, as a shepherd his flock, with all care and tenderness. Thus the true Joshua, even Jesus, brings his church out of the wilderness; but no earthly Canaan, no worldly advantages, should make us forget that the church is in the wilderness while in this world, and that there remaineth a far more glorious rest for the people of God.

Verses 56-72 After the Israelites were settled in Canaan, the children were like their fathers. God gave them his testimonies, but they turned back. Presumptuous sins render even Israelites hateful to God's holiness, and exposed to his justice. Those whom the Lord forsakes become an easy prey to the destroyer. And sooner or later, God will disgrace his enemies. He set a good government over his people; a monarch after his own heart. With good reason does the psalmist make this finishing, crowning instance of God's favour to Israel; for David was a type of Christ, the great and good Shepherd, who was humbled first, and then exalted; and of whom it was foretold, that he should be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. On the uprightness of his heart, and the skilfulness of his hands, all his subjects may rely; and of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. Every trial of human nature hitherto, confirms the testimony of Scripture, that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, and nothing but being created anew by the Holy Ghost can cure the ungodliness of any.

Cross References 121

  • 1. [Isaiah 51:4]; See Psalms 49:1; Psalms 50:7
  • 2. Cited Matthew 13:35; See Psalms 49:4
  • 3. [Numbers 21:27]
  • 4. See Psalms 44:1
  • 5. Job 15:18
  • 6. [Exodus 12:26, 27; Exodus 13:8, 14; Deuteronomy 11:19; Joshua 4:6, 7; Joel 1:3]
  • 7. ver. 11, 32
  • 8. Psalms 19:7; [Psalms 81:5]
  • 9. Psalms 147:19
  • 10. Psalms 147:19
  • 11. ver. 4; Psalms 102:18
  • 12. Psalms 77:12
  • 13. Psalms 105:45
  • 14. 2 Kings 17:14; 2 Chronicles 30:7; Ezekiel 20:18
  • 15. Exodus 32:9; Exodus 33:3; Deuteronomy 9:7, 24; Deuteronomy 31:27; Jeremiah 5:23
  • 16. ver. 37; Job 11:13
  • 17. ver. 57
  • 18. [2 Kings 17:15]
  • 19. See Psalms 106:13
  • 20. ver. 4
  • 21. ver. 43; See Ex. 7-12; Psalms 72:18
  • 22. ver. 43; Numbers 13:22; Isaiah 19:11, 13; Ezekiel 30:14
  • 23. Psalms 136:13; Exodus 14:21
  • 24. Exodus 15:8
  • 25. See Psalms 105:39
  • 26. ver. 20; Psalms 105:41; Psalms 114:8; Exodus 17:6; Isaiah 48:21
  • 27. Num. 20:8, 10, 11
  • 28. ver. 40, 56; Deuteronomy 9:22; Isaiah 63:10
  • 29. ver. 41, 56; Psalms 95:9; Psalms 106:14; Deuteronomy 6:16; 1 Corinthians 10:9
  • 30. [Exodus 16:3; Numbers 11:4; Numbers 20:3; Numbers 21:5]
  • 31. See Psalms 23:5
  • 32. ver. 15, 16
  • 33. Numbers 11:1
  • 34. ver. 8, 32, 37
  • 35. Genesis 7:11; [Malachi 3:10]
  • 36. Exodus 16:4
  • 37. Psalms 105:40; [John 6:31]
  • 38. Psalms 103:20
  • 39. [ver. 29]
  • 40. Numbers 11:31
  • 41. [Genesis 13:16]
  • 42. [Genesis 22:17]
  • 43. Exodus 16:13; Numbers 11:31
  • 44. Numbers 11:19, 20
  • 45. Numbers 11:4, 34
  • 46. Numbers 11:33; [Job 20:23]
  • 47. Isaiah 10:16
  • 48. ver. 63
  • 49. See Numbers 14; Numbers 16; Numbers 17
  • 50. ver. 22; Numbers 14:11
  • 51. Numbers 14:29, 35; Numbers 26:64, 65
  • 52. Psalms 39:5
  • 53. Hosea 5:15
  • 54. Deut. 32:4, 15, 31
  • 55. Exodus 15:13; See Psalms 74:2
  • 56. Isaiah 29:13; Ezekiel 33:31
  • 57. Isaiah 57:11
  • 58. ver. 8
  • 59. Psalms 51:10
  • 60. Exodus 34:6
  • 61. Numbers 14:20
  • 62. [Psalms 103:14; Job 10:9]
  • 63. Genesis 6:3
  • 64. Job 7:7
  • 65. ver. 17, 56; Psalms 107:11
  • 66. [Ephesians 4:30]
  • 67. Psalms 106:14
  • 68. See ver. 18
  • 69. See Psalms 71:22
  • 70. Judges 8:34
  • 71. For ver. 43-51, see Psalms 105:27-36
  • 72. Exodus 7:3; [Psalms 106:22]; Acts 7:36
  • 73. Exodus 4:21; Exodus 11:9, 10
  • 74. See ver. 12
  • 75. See Exodus 7:17-24
  • 76. See Exodus 8:21-24
  • 77. See Exodus 8:2-14
  • 78. See Exodus 10:12-15
  • 79. See Exodus 9:23-25
  • 80. See Exodus 9:19-21
  • 81. Exodus 12:13, 23; [2 Samuel 24:16]
  • 82. Exodus 12:29; [Psalms 105:36; Psalms 135:8; Psalms 136:10]
  • 83. Psalms 105:23, 27; Psalms 106:22
  • 84. See Psalms 77:20
  • 85. [Exodus 14:19, 20]
  • 86. [Exodus 14:13]
  • 87. Exodus 14:27, 28; Exodus 15:10
  • 88. Exodus 15:17
  • 89. Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 57:13; [Psalms 68:16]
  • 90. Psalms 74:2
  • 91. See Psalms 44:2
  • 92. Joshua 23:4; [Psalms 135:12; Psalms 136:21, 22; Acts 13:19]
  • 93. ver. 18; Judges 2:11, 12
  • 94. ver. 40
  • 95. Hosea 7:16; [ver. 9]
  • 96. Deuteronomy 31:29
  • 97. Leviticus 26:30; Deuteronomy 12:2; 1 Kings 11:7; 1 Kings 12:31; Ezekiel 20:28
  • 98. Numbers 25:11; Deuteronomy 32:16, 21; Judges 2:12
  • 99. Deuteronomy 7:5, 25; Deuteronomy 12:3
  • 100. ver. 62; Psalms 106:40; Deuteronomy 3:26
  • 101. 1 Samuel 4:11; Jeremiah 7:12, 14; Jeremiah 26:6
  • 102. Joshua 18:1
  • 103. Psalms 132:8; [Psalms 63:2; Psalms 96:6]
  • 104. [1 Samuel 4:21]
  • 105. [1 Samuel 4:10]
  • 106. ver. 59
  • 107. [Psalms 79:5; Psalms 89:46]
  • 108. [Jeremiah 7:34]
  • 109. 1 Samuel 4:11
  • 110. Job 27:15
  • 111. Psalms 73:20; See Psalms 35:23
  • 112. [Psalms 40:14]
  • 113. Psalms 80:1; Psalms 81:5
  • 114. Psalms 87:2
  • 115. See 1 Kings 6
  • 116. 1 Samuel 16:12, 13
  • 117. 2 Samuel 7:8
  • 118. 2 Samuel 5:2; [Psalms 28:9]
  • 119. 1 Samuel 10:1
  • 120. Psalms 101:2; 1 Kings 9:4
  • 121. [Psalms 77:20]

Footnotes 4

Chapter Summary

Psalms 78 Commentaries

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