Friday, March 18, 2011

Psalm 78:1-36

God’s Continued Guidance in Spite of Unbelief

In a song of praise, this psalm reviews the sacred history of Israel from enslavement in Egypt to the reign of David.  We will look at this psalm over 2 days.  Verses 1-8 open the psalm with a statement of purpose and the following verses are:
  • a rehearsal of God’s care in the wilderness
  • a reminder of the Egyptian plagues
  • a summary of the judges period, culminating in the choice of David as Israel’s king. 
The purpose of this psalm is to serve as a warning against rebellion and a reminder of God’s promises.  We have seen over and over in the psalms a need to remember the goodness of God and His faithfulness to His promises in times past.  The message is this: 
God was faithful then, He is faithful now, and He will be faithful in the future. 

We are reminded again in verses 4-8 to tell God’s story to the ‘generations to come.’ The purpose of this is

That they may set their hope in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments.  ~Ps. 78:7
My Bible makes this note:
The Biblical history of Israel covers 1,800 years and represents a marvelous panorama of God’s gracious working through promise, miracle, blessing, and judgment.  Israel begins as only a promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:2).  For over 400 years, the people of Israel rely on that promise, especially during the period of bondage to Egypt. 

The nation of Israel, fleeing Egypt through the Red Sea
Finally, in God’s perfect time, He brings the nation out of Egypt with the greatest series of miracles known in the entire OT (Exodus 7-15).  This event is called the Exodus, meaning “a going out.”  Since it constitutes the miraculous birth of a nation, it is to this great act of redemption that the nation always looks back as the foremost example of God’s care for His people. 

Once God has redeemed Israel, He establishes His covenant with them at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:5-8).  From that point forward, the nation is truly the Lord’s possession, and He is their God.  The covenant foretells gracious blessings for obedience and severe judgments for disobedience.  The rest of Israel’s history demonstrates the certainty of that prophecy.  Through the periods of conquest judges, monarchy, exile, restoration and Gentile domination, Israel is blessed when she obeys and judged when she disobeys. 

The nation is finally destroyed in AD 70; many prophecies, however promise a future redemption of Israel.  (Rom 11:26)
Yet He had commanded the clouds above . .  .
had rained down manna on them to eat,
and given them of the bread of Heaven.
Men at angels’ food;
He sent them food to the full.

  • God is covenant-maker, and He is the covenant-Keeper!
  • God desires my obedience to His word
  • God is my Deliverer – even my circumstances seem impossible
  • God is my Provider
  • God is long-suffering with His people
  • I praise God for His word – for the history of the faithfulness to His promises to His people.
  • I praise God for His promise of provision for my needs – may I trust Him more and more
  • I praise God for His continued guidance in spite of unbelief
      O Lord, this psalm is such a reminder of Your goodness, Your faithfulness . . . and of the unbelief and weakness of Your people.  How I see myself in the behavior of the Israelites . . . my faith is strong one day, then it seems like the next day I am faltering again.  I fall into the same sins over and over . . . and yet, You are longsuffering with me. 
     Thank You, Father, for Your lovingkindness towards me, and for Your provision.  May I come to You daily for my spiritual “manna” – may I ‘feed’ daily on Your word.  May I dialogue daily with You – You speaking to me through Your word, and me speaking to You through my prayers.  May I become rooted and grounded in this spiritual discipline and area of my life.
     In Jesus’ name I pray ~ Amen

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