God’s Renewing Word of Mercy and Forgiveness
Psalm 78:1-37. Today’s reading is the first half of a psalm that recounts the history of God’s people from the exodus to the time of King David. The purpose of the psalm is to teach present and future generations about the past so that they will faithfully obey God.
78 Listen, my people, to my teaching,
and pay attention to what I say.
2 I am going to use wise sayings
and explain mysteries from the past,
3 things we have heard and known,
things that our ancestors told us.
4 We will not keep them from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the Lord's power and his great deeds
and the wonderful things he has done.
5 He gave laws to the people of Israel
and commandments to the descendants of Jacob.
He instructed our ancestors
to teach his laws to their children,
6 so that the next generation might learn them
and in turn should tell their children.
7 In this way they also will put their trust in God
and not forget what he has done,
but always obey his commandments.
8 They will not be like their ancestors,
a rebellious and disobedient people,
whose trust in God was never firm
and who did not remain faithful to him.
9 The Ephraimites, armed with bows and arrows,
ran away on the day of battle.
10 They did not keep their covenant with God;
they refused to obey his law.
11 They forgot what he had done,
the miracles they had seen him perform.
12 While their ancestors watched, God performed miracles
in the plain of Zoan in the land of Egypt.
13 He divided the sea and took them through it;
he made the waters stand like walls.
14 By day he led them with a cloud
and all night long with the light of a fire.
15 He split rocks open in the desert
and gave them water from the depths.
16 He caused a stream to come out of the rock
and made water flow like a river.
17 But they continued to sin against God,
and in the desert they rebelled against the Most High.
18 They deliberately put God to the test
by demanding the food they wanted.
19 They spoke against God and said,
“Can God supply food in the desert?
20 It is true that he struck the rock,
and water flowed out in a torrent;
but can he also provide us with bread
and give his people meat?”
21 And so the Lord was angry when he heard them;
he attacked his people with fire,
and his anger against them grew,
22 because they had no faith in him
and did not believe that he would save them.
23 But he spoke to the sky above
and commanded its doors to open;
24 he gave them grain from heaven,
by sending down manna for them to eat.
25 So they ate the food of angels,
and God gave them all they wanted.
26 He also caused the east wind to blow,
and by his power he stirred up the south wind;
27 and to his people he sent down birds,
as many as the grains of sand on the shore;
28 they fell in the middle of the camp
all around the tents.
29 So the people ate and were satisfied;
God gave them what they wanted.
30 But they had not yet satisfied their craving
and were still eating,
31 when God became angry with them
and killed their strongest men,
the best young men of Israel.
32 In spite of all this the people kept sinning;
in spite of his miracles they did not trust him.
33 So he ended their days like a breath
and their lives with sudden disaster.
34 Whenever he killed some of them,
the rest would turn to him;
they would repent and pray earnestly to him.
35 They remembered that God was their protector,
that the Almighty came to their aid.
36 But their words were all lies;
nothing they said was sincere.
37 They were not loyal to him;
they were not faithful to their covenant with him.
We will tell the next generation about the LORD’s power and his great deeds and the wonderful things he has done.
Reread verses 5-8. What important instruction is given? In what ways does your community of faith teach God’s laws to succeeding generations? In the remaining verses in today’s reading, in what ways did God provide for the people? What were the consequences when the people sinned?
Lord God, I will proclaim your power, your great deeds, and the wonderful things you have done. Keep me close to you this day and teach me always to obey your commandments. Amen.
Psalm 78:38-72: The psalm continues with a description of the people’s rebellious acts.