Psalms 78:1-37

A maskil of Asaph.

1 [a]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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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; 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.
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.
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.
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.

Psalms 78:1-37 Meaning and Commentary

Maschil of Asaph. Or for "Asaph" {f}; a doctrinal and "instructive" psalm, as the word "Maschil" signifies; see Psalm 32:1, which was delivered to Asaph to be sung; the Targum is, "the understanding of the Holy Spirit by the hands of Asaph." Some think David was the penman of it; but from the latter part of it, in which mention is made of him, and of his government of the people of Israel, it looks as if it was wrote by another, and after his death, though not long after, since the account is carried on no further than his times; and therefore it is probable enough it was written by Asaph, the chief singer, that lived in that age: whoever was the penman of it, it is certain he was a prophet, and so was Asaph, who is called a seer, the same with a prophet, and who is said to prophesy, 2 Chronicles 29:30 and also that he represented Christ; for that the Messiah is the person that is introduced speaking in this psalm is clear from Matthew 13:34 and the whole may be considered as a discourse of his to the Jews of his time; giving them an history of the Israelites from their first coming out of Egypt to the times of David, and in it an account of the various benefits bestowed upon them, of their great ingratitude, and of the divine resentment; the design of which is to admonish and caution them against committing the like sins, lest they should be rejected of God, as their fathers were, and perish: some Jewish writers, as Arama observes, interpret this psalm of the children of Ephraim going out of Egypt before the time appointed.

Cross References 51

  • 1. Isaiah 51:4; Isaiah 55:3
  • 2. S Psalms 49:4; S Matthew 13:35*
  • 3. S Judges 6:13; Psalms 44:1
  • 4. S Deuteronomy 11:19
  • 5. S Deuteronomy 32:7; S Psalms 71:18
  • 6. Psalms 26:7; Psalms 71:17
  • 7. S Job 5:9
  • 8. Psalms 19:7; Psalms 81:5
  • 9. Psalms 147:19
  • 10. S Psalms 22:31; Psalms 102:18
  • 11. S Deuteronomy 6:12
  • 12. S Deuteronomy 5:29
  • 13. S 2 Chronicles 30:7
  • 14. S Exodus 32:9
  • 15. ver 37; S Exodus 23:21; S Deuteronomy 21:18; Isaiah 30:9; Isaiah 65:2
  • 16. ver 57; 1 Chronicles 12:2; Hosea 7:16
  • 17. S Judges 20:39
  • 18. S Joshua 7:11; S 2 Kings 17:15
  • 19. S Exodus 16:28; S Jeremiah 11:8
  • 20. Psalms 106:13
  • 21. S Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 106:22
  • 22. Exodus 11:9; Ex 7-12
  • 23. S Numbers 13:22
  • 24. S Exodus 14:21; Psalms 66:6; Psalms 136:13
  • 25. S Exodus 14:22; S Exodus 15:8
  • 26. Exodus 13:21; Psalms 105:39
  • 27. S Numbers 20:11; 1 Corinthians 10:4
  • 28. ver 32,40; Deuteronomy 9:22; Isaiah 30:1; Isaiah 63:10; Hebrews 3:16
  • 29. S Exodus 17:2; 1 Corinthians 10:9
  • 30. S Exodus 15:24; Exodus 16:2; Numbers 11:4
  • 31. Numbers 21:5
  • 32. S Numbers 20:11; S Isaiah 35:6
  • 33. Numbers 11:18
  • 34. S Numbers 11:1
  • 35. S Deuteronomy 1:32; Hebrews 3:19
  • 36. Genesis 7:11; S 2 Kings 7:2; Malachi 3:10
  • 37. Exodus 16:4; John 6:31*
  • 38. S Numbers 11:31
  • 39. S Exodus 16:13; Numbers 11:31
  • 40. S Numbers 11:20
  • 41. S Numbers 11:33
  • 42. Isaiah 10:16
  • 43. S ver 17
  • 44. ver 11
  • 45. ver 22
  • 46. Numbers 14:29,35
  • 47. S Deuteronomy 4:29; Hosea 5:15
  • 48. S Genesis 49:24; Deuteronomy 32:4
  • 49. S Deuteronomy 9:26
  • 50. Ezekiel 33:31
  • 51. ver 8; Acts 8:21

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Title: Probably a literary or musical term
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