Lord, we remember what You have done for us.
Read PSALM 78:1–39
A maskil[a] of Asaph.
1 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.
38 Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a passing breeze that does not return.
a Psalm 78:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Pause to remember what God has done for you, your friends, your family, and your church in the recent past and give thanks and praise for this.
This psalm is not just a recitation of history, but a meditation on lessons to be learned therefrom. The main lesson is presented in verses 7 and 8. The Israelites have been unfaithful to God because they have forgotten what God has done for them (11). Future generations must be taught about God’s deeds in order to prevent them falling into the same trap. The two great religious revivals in Judah’s history included a restoration of the Passover (2 Chronicles 30:1–5; 2 Kings 23:21–23). This suggests that the preceding periods of apostasy ignored the annual springtime reminder of God’s great act of redemption from slavery in Egypt. Jesus, knowing that his followers are likely to be a forgetful people, has instituted a simple but profound meal by which they would recall his great act of redemption for them (Luke 22:14–20). Remembering what God has done for us motivates us to live the way God wants us to when life gets difficult.
The psalm brings out some of the harmful consequences that can follow when we fail to remember God’s deeds: lack of trust in God’s power to help (20–22); lack of gratitude, so that the people keep wanting more (vs 23–31); and a display of repentance that is insincere (34–37) because they are seeking to avoid punishment rather than acting out of love for God. Despite their failure to show genuine repentance, God does not wipe them out completely. Instead he “remembers their human frailty and is merciful towards them” (38,39). We know that the ultimate atonement for human sin was made by Jesus. When faced with a crowd that quoted verse 24 of this psalm to him, he replied that he is the bread of life because he would give himself for the life of the world (John 6:35, 51).
Use the prayer of Psalm 139:23 and 24 to ask God to show you if forgetfulness of Christ’s deeds for you is harming your walk with Him.
Lord, Your mercy toward Your people under either covenant never ceases to amaze us.
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