Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reflecting on the Psalms: Chapter 78

Psalm 78

Maschil of Asaph.

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

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

Chapter 78

Matthew Henry's thoughts on the first few verses, "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." As a kid, I was taught God's Word, in Sunday school and stuff, which I am reminded of (v. 4). It'll be an awesome thing if I have kids one day and teach them God's Word. If God has that in mind for me, I know that I will enjoy doing it and that He will be glorified in it. Verses 5-6 fit in because if I were to be a father one day, I'd basically be instructed by God to teach my kids the Word so they can know Him and tell their children about it, which would be quite a thing. However, with the way things are going in this world, I'm not if I'll ever have a family, which would be OK because because God's blessings would be greater than that in eternity. It would be a great thing to have a wife and kids, but it's not guaranteed. And if my kids teach their kids, that generation will keep His commandments (v. 7) and not rebel against Him (v. 8). What an awesome thing it would to be to be used by God to influence other generations.

Henry's comments on verses 9-11, "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." Although I can't personally relate to verses 9-11 since I didn't break my covenant with Him, I'd hate for my kids to if I have kids one days. I heard about people on the radio whose kids went to college and came back and said, "I don't believe in God anymore" or something along those lines. In order for that not to happen, if my kids go to college, I'll have to pray against the enemy's influence if he's gonna try and turn my kids away from God. Just because some scientist somehow illustrates that it's impossible for God to exist or what have you, that doesn't mean the scientist is right. And just because one tries to prove something doesn't mean he or she will convince people regardless. A good argument may get provoke thought, yes, but the chances of convincing people on the spot are pretty slim. I could post YouTube videos that illustrate God's existence, but I'm not gonna get into that right now because I figure I've already gone off on too much of a tangent. I'm here to reflect on God's Word, not to get into some apologetic debate. Anyhow, verse 12 is a continuation of verses 9-11 and my reponse it is that if I tell my kids about the wonderful things God's done in my life, I figure they'll remember what I tell those things even though I've had an experience that literally relates to verses 13-16. I suppose, however, that He did divide the sea (v. 13) during my darkest moment by freeing me from Satan's grasp. He guided me through that (v. 14) and clave or split any rocks I had (v. 15) so I could experience the living water, which is where "gave them drink as out of the great depths" comes in. I remember a flow of His love, which ran like a river (v. 16). I can't relate to verse 17 since I haven't provoked God in the wilderness or ask for meat or food via tempting God (v. 18). Jesus suggests against tempting God, so why would I in the first place? Henry's insight on verses 19-20 is interesting, "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." That seems to be concerning those who do not live for God, which pretty much speaks for itself. I can't personally relate to verse 21, but I do trust in His salvation (v. 22) since it does save me, such as the time when God saved me from my darkest moment. Thought I'd share Henry's thoughts on verses 23-35, "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." In a way, during my darkest moment, I did experience God's wrath for my rebellion, but I did remember that He was my redeemer (v. 35). I don't see myself relating to verses 36-37 since I continuted to stay true to God after my darkest moment. I am thankful that He forgives me even though I mess up (v. 38) and that He remembers that I'm flesh and not perfect (v. 39).

Henry's comments on verses 40-42, "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." I am reminded that it's not OK to abuse God's forgiveness and I'm usually not bold to sin. I don't have a lot to say about verses 40-55 as a whole since I can't really relate to 'em, but I know that since I am part of His flock, He guides me (v. 52) He will lead me safety (v. 53), as He did during my darkest moment. Henry's comments on verses 54-55, "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." He is my inheritance (v. 55) and it's a great thing that I can depend on Him for rest.

I can't relate to verses 56-72, but I do like Henry's insight on the last few verses, "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." Don't have much to add to that.

                                                Source used:

Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Psalms 78". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
on the Whole Bible". <>. 

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