Monday, September 05, 2011

Psalm 78

1 Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:
6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.
9 The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.
10 They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law;
11 And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.
12 Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.
14 In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.
15 He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.
16 He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.
17 And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.
18 And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.
19 Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
20 Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
21 Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;
22 Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:
23 Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,
24 And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.
25 Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full.
26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.
27 He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:
28 And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.
29 So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire;
30 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths,
31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.
32 For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.
33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.
34 When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.
35 And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.
36 Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.
37 For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.
38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!
41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
42 They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.
43 How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan.
44 And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink.
45 He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.
46 He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost.
48 He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.
49 He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.
50 He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence;
51 And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:
52 But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53 And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54 And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.
55 He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.
56 Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies:
57 But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.
58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.
59 When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel:
60 So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;
61 And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand.
62 He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.
63 The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.
64 Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.
65 Then the LORD awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.
66 And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.
67 Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim:
68 But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.
69 And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.
70 He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:
71 From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.
72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.

Key Verse:
72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.

Key Observation:
A psalm of Asaph that is a history from Moses to David.

Memory Verse:
35 And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.


Asaph tells us in this brief historical review that men fail God, yet God is faithful and does not fail men. “So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.” This psalm is a beautiful picture of God’s divine intervention, even in the face of sin and disobedience, to fulfill his good will.

Strict interpretation tells us what the Bible says; in this psalm the primary audience is the Israelite of David’s time, but the application goes much further than that. Someday soon Israel will yet again be rescued by the hand of God, quite apart from any good deeds which they have done. One day soon the nation of Israel will get this psalm in a new fashion.

A couple of psalms ago I pointed out that it is the job of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to us, and He does this frequently through His word. Lest I be misunderstood, I would add a few words to that. I did say that a Christian should be confident in coming to the Spirit with the expectation that the Spirit will reveal the word, and thus the person of Jesus Christ. I do believe that, but as I thought about some of the heresies going about our day, I realized that I should not leave it there. No scripture is subject to private interpretation. In our day, I frequently hear, and cringe, someone say, “This is what it means to me.” Or worse, “My truth for this passage is . . .” Scripture always has a primary interpretation—it is based upon truth, which never ever changes from one person to another. Rather the truth is out there, a solid line with which we must come to reckon. I am afraid we Americans, living in a pluralistic society, have sought to avoid offense by conditioning our statements with, “It means to me. . .” God is truth, and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. I am afraid the Bible does not allow you to devise doctrines of personal meaning.

Thus when we look at scripture, we must look to see who is the audience. Sometimes not all scripture is to us. For instance, in this very psalm, we must see the audience as Israel. But though not all scripture is to us, all scripture has application to us. It is when we voice opinions of how God might be applying a particular passage to us that we need to be careful to make distinction between interpretation and application. A valid application of this passage would be to note that God is faithful, even when we are not. There are many NT passages that would confirm both His faithfulness, and our sinfulness. An invalid application would be to twist this psalm around and say that God has replaced the church for Israel. Scripture must be used to interpret Scripture; and when we seek to enforce our meaning on a passage, we must be careful to retain the basic interpretation. Remember God has given His truth here, and it is our responsibility to seed it correctly in our hearts, and especially those that we would teach.

I love to tell the story
of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory,
of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story,
because I know 'tis true;
it satisfies my longings
as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story,
'twill be my theme in glory,
to tell the old, old story
of Jesus and his love.

I love to tell the story;
more wonderful it seems
than all the golden fancies
of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story,
it did so much for me;
and that is just the reason
I tell it now to thee.

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