Psalms 78
(A special psalm by Asaph.)
What God has done for his people
1My friends, I beg you
to listen as I teach.
2I will give instruction#Mt 13.35.
and explain the mystery
of what happened long ago.
3These are things we learnt
from our ancestors,
4and we will tell them
to the next generation.
We won't keep secret
the glorious deeds
and the mighty miracles
of the LORD.
5God gave his Law
to Jacob's descendants,
the people of Israel.
And he told our ancestors
to teach their children,
6so that each new generation
would know his Law
and tell it to the next.
7Then they would trust God
and obey his teachings,
without forgetting anything
God had done.
8They would be different
from their ancestors,
who were stubborn, rebellious,
and unfaithful to God.
9The warriors from Ephraim
were armed with arrows,
but they ran away
when the battle began.
10They broke their agreement
with God,
and they turned their backs
on his teaching.
11They forgot all he had done,
even the mighty miracles
12he did for their ancestors#Ex 7.8—12.32.
near Zoan#78.12 Zoan: A city in the eastern part of the Nile Delta. in Egypt.
13God made a path in the sea#Ex 14.21,22.
and piled up the water
as he led them across.
14He guided them during the day#Ex 13.21,22.
with a cloud,
and each night he led them
with a flaming fire.
15God made water flow#Ex 17.1-7; Nu 20.2-13.
from rocks he split open
in the desert,
and his people drank freely,
as though from a lake.
16He made streams gush out
like rivers from rocks.
17But in the desert,
the people of God Most High
kept sinning and rebelling.
18They stubbornly tested God#Ex 16.2-15; Nu 11.4-23,31-35.
and demanded from him
what they wanted to eat.
19They challenged God by saying,
“Can God provide food
out here in the desert?
20It's true God struck the rock
and water gushed out
like a river,
but can he give his people
bread and meat?”
21When the LORD heard this,
he was angry and furious
with Jacob's descendants,
the people of Israel.
22They had refused to trust him,
and they had doubted
his saving power.
23But God gave a command
to the clouds,
and he opened the doors
in the skies.
24From heaven he sent grain#Jn 6.31.
that they called manna.#78.24 manna: When the people of Israel were wandering through the desert, the Lord gave them a special kind of food to eat. It tasted like a wafer and was called “manna”, which in Hebrew means, “What is this?”
25He gave them more than enough,
and each one of them ate
this special food.
26God's mighty power
brought a strong wind
from the south-east,
27and it brought birds
that covered the ground,
like sand on the beach.
28Then God made the birds fall
in the camp of his people
near their tents.
29God gave his people
all they wanted,
and each of them ate
until they were full.
30But before they had swallowed
the last bite,
31God became angry and killed
the strongest and best
from the families of Israel.
32But the rest kept on sinning
and would not trust
God's miracles.
33So he cut their lives short
and made them terrified.
34After he killed some of them,
the others turned to him
with all their hearts.
35They remembered God Most High,
the mighty rock#78.35 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.
that kept them safe.
36But they tried to flatter God,
and they told him lies;
37they were unfaithful#Ac 8.21.
and broke their promises.
38Yet God was kind.
He kept forgiving their sins
and didn't destroy them.
He often became angry,
but never lost his temper.
39God remembered that they
were made of flesh
and were like a wind
that blows once
and then dies down.
40While they were in the desert,
they often rebelled
and made God sad.
41They kept testing him
and caused terrible pain
for the Holy One of Israel.
42They forgot about his power
and how he had rescued them
from their enemies.
43God showed them all kinds
of wonderful miracles
near Zoan#78.43 Zoan: See the note at 78.12. in Egypt.
44He turned the rivers of Egypt#Ex 7.17-21.
into blood,
and no one could drink
from the streams.
45He sent swarms of flies#Ex 8.20-24; Ex 8.1-6.
to pester the Egyptians,
and he sent frogs
to cause them trouble.
46God let worms and grasshoppers#Ex 10.12-15.
eat their crops.
47He destroyed their grapevines#Ex 9.22-25.
and their fig trees
with hail and floods.#78.47 floods: Or “frost”.
48Then he killed their cattle
with hail
and their other animals
with lightning.
49God was so angry and furious
that he went into a rage
and caused them great trouble
by sending swarms
of destroying angels.
50God gave in to his anger
and slaughtered them
in a terrible way.
51He killed the firstborn son#Ex 12.29.
of each Egyptian family.
52Then God led his people#Ex 13.17-22.
out of Egypt
and guided them in the desert
like a flock of sheep.
53He led them safely along,#Ex 14.26-28.
and they were not afraid,
but their enemies drowned
in the sea.
54God brought his people#Ex 15.17; Js 3.14-17.
to the sacred mountain
that he had taken
by his own power.
55He made nations run#Js 11.16-23.
from the tribes of Israel,
and he let the tribes
take over their land.
56But the people tested#Jg 2.11-15.
God Most High,
and they refused
to obey his laws.
57They were as unfaithful
as their ancestors,
and they were as crooked
as a twisted arrow.
58God demanded all their love,
but they made him angry
by worshipping idols.
59So God became furious
and completely rejected
the people of Israel.
60Then he deserted his home#Js 18.1; Jr 7.12-14; 26.6.
at Shiloh, where he lived
here on earth.
61He let enemies capture#1 S 4.4-22.
the sacred chest#78.61 sacred chest: The Hebrew text has “his power”, which refers to the sacred chest. In Psalm 132.8 it is called “powerful”.
and let them dishonour him.
62God took out his anger
on his chosen ones
and let them be killed
by enemy swords.
63Fire destroyed the young men,
and the young women were left
with no one to marry.
64Priests died violent deaths,
but their widows
were not allowed to mourn.
65Finally the Lord woke up,
and he shouted
like a drunken soldier.
66God scattered his enemies
and made them ashamed
for ever.
67Then the Lord decided
not to make his home
with Joseph's descendants
in Ephraim.#78.67 with…Ephraim: Ephraim was Joseph's youngest son. One of the twelve tribes was named after him, and sometimes the northern kingdom of Israel was also known as Ephraim. The town of Shiloh was in the territory of Ephraim, but the place where God was worshipped was moved from there to Zion (Jerusalem) in the territory of Judah.
68Instead he chose the tribe
of Judah,
and he chose Mount Zion,
the place he loves.
69There he built his temple
as lofty as the mountains
and as solid as the earth
that he had made
to last for ever.
70The Lord God chose David#1 S 16.11,12; 2 S 7.8; 1 Ch 17.7.
to be his servant and took him
from tending sheep
71and from caring for lambs.
Then God made him the leader
of Israel, his own nation.
72David treated the people fairly
and guided them with wisdom.