Daily Family Worship

Psalm 78:1-37: The History of Israel, Part 1

by | May 24, 2024

The 78th Psalm gives the Lord’s people much glorious instruction in a detailed recital of the acts of the people of Israel as examples, from the time when they departed out of Egypt, down to the period when David was chosen to be king. It teaches us to believe and trust in God; and it shows us how “very present” Jehovah always was to those who believed in Him, in the midst of all their perils – and even in the midst of death. And on the other hand, it also shows us how surely and terribly He always visited those who despised His Word and departed from Him. According to the words of the First Commandment, God has – from the beginning – shown mercy to those who love Him, and visited those who hate Him with punishment. And although the world despises both the threatenings and the promises of God, yet He will still go on working according to the words of this First Commandment – the words of which still prevail over all the kingdoms of the earth. Among all those who hate Him and refuse to obey Him, He strikes down kings, overturns kingdoms, uproots families, and blots out mighty names. But the other side of that same Commandment is also being continually manifested before us, even today, in the preservation and protection of those in the Church of Jesus who love Him. He lifts up those who are down, He relieves the oppressed, He helps the poor and the captives, He frees those who are in prison, He raises the dead, and He brings salvation to the lost!

The main content of this Psalm comprises a narrative of the history of the people of God, showing His repeated works of wonder on their behalf, despite their repeated acts of rebellion against Him. Particularly, in verses 9-37, we are reminded of how the Lord brought the Israelites safely through the Red Sea, in which their enemies subsequently drowned. He led them continually through the wilderness with the cloudy and fiery pillar of His presence, and He miraculously provided water for their thirsty throats from a rock. In spite of that wondrous miracle, they questioned whether or not He could give them meat to eat – even though He had already been feeding them daily with manna (“angels’ food,” verse 25 calls it). Yet “for all this,” we are told, “they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works” (verse 32). The 37th verse gives a sad summary of the spiritual state of these people: “Their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.”

But in addition to the spiritual lessons learned from the historical narrative contained in this portion of inspired Scripture, we would do well to take a moment to see the importance of communicating these lessons to our children and grandchildren. Asaph speaks of this in the first eight verses of this Psalm: “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.” Brothers and sisters! Let not our negligent silence deprive our offspring of the precious truth of the Lord! After all, it is these children who shall be the Church of the future! They must be taught to magnify the Lord. They ought to be well-informed as to His wonderful doings in ages past; and they should be made to know “his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.” The best education is education in the best things. The first lesson for a little child should be concerning his father and mother’s God. Grammar is poor food for the soul, if it is not flavored with grace. The world may teach secular knowledge alone; indeed, it is all that she has a heart to know. But parents in the Church must not deal this way with Christ’s offspring; they should ensure that every Timothy and Rhoda knows the Holy Scriptures from their earliest youth. Around the fireside or the dinner-table, fathers and mothers should not only repeat the Bible records; but also the deeds of the martyrs and the Reformers, as well as the dealings of the Lord with themselves – both in Providence and in grace. O how we long to see children being taught cheerfully by their own mothers and fathers! What pleasant evenings have children had at their parents’ knees, in days gone by, as they have listened to some “sweet story of old!” Let us cry out to the Lord for grace to not fail in this blessed duty and privilege! They must not go out into this giddy, sinful world without the advantage of a solid Biblical training.

Thank You, Jesus, for Your unswerving goodness toward us, for You always guide us through the wilderness of this world, and pour out blessings on our heads! Amen.

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