June 28, 2007
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- (Maschil of Asaph.) Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
- I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
- Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
- 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.
- 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:
- That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
- That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
- 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.
- The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.
- They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law;
- And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.
- Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
- He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.
- In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.
- He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.
- He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.
- And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.
- And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.
- Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
- 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?
- Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;
- Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:
- Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,
- And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.
- Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full.
- He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.
- He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:
- And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.
- So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire;
- They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths,
- The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.
- For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.
- Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.
- When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.
- And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.
- Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.
- For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.
- 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.
- For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
- How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!
- Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
- They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.
- How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan:
- And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink.
- He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.
- He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust.
- He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost.
- He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.
- He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.
- He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence;
- And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:
- But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
- And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
- And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.
- 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.
- Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies:
- But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.
- For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.
- When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel:
- So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;
- And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand.
- He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.
- The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.
- Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.
- Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.
- And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.
- Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim:
- But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.
- And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.
- He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:
- From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.
- So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.
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- (A Psalm of Asaph.) O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.
- The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.
- Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.
- We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.
- How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
- Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.
- For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.
- O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
- Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake.
- Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed.
- Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;
- And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.
- So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
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Thought for the day:
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The theme of Psalm 78 seems to be somewhat unusual for a song-writer to use. Most songs are of great victories, or perhaps cries for help in difficult times. Of course, many of the psalms themselves are filled with praise to the Lord, and some even call for His judgment upon the heathen. This song takes a different course - it gives a history lesson of Israel, showing the children of Israel not at the height of their glory, but in their rebellion against the Almighty. Before getting into the psalm itself, it is worth mentioning again that God is never afraid to include the failings of men in His revelation. Men might try to cover their faults, and allow their sinful past to be forgotten in the sands of time. God knows that the iniquities of past generations, and their subsequent punishments, serve as great examples for us today as to what is and is not acceptable. He explains that in I Corinthians 10:11:
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition."
Knowing the past should serve as fair warning for the future.
Asaph opens the song by calling upon the people to listen to his words (1). He refers to them as "dark sayings" and "parables" (2). By this he means to use history to reveal to his listeners truths that they need to be putting into practice. He reminds his hearers that these stories and their lessons are not new, but have been passed down from generation to generation. He states that they should continue this pattern, and be sure to give their own children these same instructions (3-4). Not only is this a wise thing to do, but it is also a Command of God (5). Here is good instruction for those of us who have children, or someday will have them. It is vitally important that we pass Biblical truth down to our offspring. We can do this not only through giving the actual statutes, but also through providing historical examples of what happens when these principles are ignored.
There are several reasons given in verse 7 for this. First, we want our children to "hope in God". The word translated "hope" has a root meaning of "fatness", used in terms of prosperity. In other words, we want our children to find their sustenance, their pleasure, and their success in the Lord. Far too many kids today are being told that money, fame, and the ability to have a good time are lofty goals. They need to understand that true happiness can be only found in Jesus Christ, and that those who have chosen an alternative path eventually wind up in destruction. The second reason given is that our children will tend to forget about God, and particularly about what He has done, if they are not continually reminded. Children mimic their parents, and tend to talk about the things that they are hearing about at home. If I want my kids to be thinking about the Lord, I need to be talking about Him at home. If I want them to remember what the Lord expects of them tomorrow, I had better be reminding them of what the Lord expects of them today. If I want my kids to make Biblical choices when they are away from me, I need to be sure to explain Biblical truth to them while they are with me. This leads into the third reason, which is that we want our children to obey the Lord. We do not want to see them suffer the consequences of sin that Old Testament Israel did. We don't want them to go through some of the self-induced heartaches that we ourselves did. We want them to hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" when they stand before God. These goals will not come to pass without our regular, personal, instruction.
The final reason given is found in verse 6. We want our children to believe and practice correctly because someday they will be having children as well. It would be a terrible grief for a couple to watch their own children fail to raise the grandchildren for the Lord. We must do everything in our power to see that our kids not only obey the Bible while they are living at home, but that they have incorporated the Word of God into their own lives so that they can reproduce it in their own kids.
It is a great challenge to realize that spiritual success of the next two generations, as well as the ones following them, are directly tied to our response to God's instructions for us to teach the principles of the Scriptures to our children. How are we doing?
Pastor Mark J Montgomery