An Asaph Psalm 78 1Listen, dear friends, to God’s truth, bend your ears to what I tell you. 2I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb; I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths, 3Stories we heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother’s knee. 4We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation— God’s fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done. 5He planted a witness in Jacob, set his Word firmly in Israel, Then commanded our parents to teach it to their children 6So the next generation would know, and all the generations to come— Know the truth and tell the stories 7so their children can trust in God, Never forget the works of God but keep his commands to the letter. 8Heaven forbid they should be like their parents, bullheaded and bad, A fickle and faithless bunch who never stayed true to God. 9The Ephraimites, armed to the teeth, ran off when the battle began. 10They were cowards to God’s Covenant, refused to walk by his Word. 11They forgot what he had done— marvels he’d done right before their eyes. 12He performed miracles in plain sight of their parents in Egypt, out on the fields of Zoan. 13He split the Sea and they walked right through it; he piled the waters to the right and the left. 14He led them by day with a cloud, led them all the night long with a fiery torch. 15He split rocks in the wilderness, gave them all they could drink from underground springs; 16He made creeks flow out from sheer rock, and water pour out like a river. 17All they did was sin even more, rebel in the desert against the High God. 18They tried to get their own way with God, clamored for favors, for special attention. 19They whined like spoiled children, “Why can’t God give us a decent meal in this desert? 20Sure, he struck the rock and the water flowed, creeks cascaded from the rock. But how about some fresh–baked bread? How about a nice cut of meat?” 21When God heard that, he was furious— his anger flared against Jacob, he lost his temper with Israel. 22It was clear they didn’t believe God, had no intention of trusting in his help. 23But God helped them anyway, commanded the clouds and gave orders that opened the gates of heaven. 24He rained down showers of manna to eat, he gave them the Bread of Heaven. 25They ate the bread of the mighty angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. 26He let East Wind break loose from the skies, gave a strong push to South Wind. 27This time it was birds that rained down— succulent birds, an abundance of birds. 28He aimed them right for the center of their camp; all round their tents there were birds. 29They ate and had their fill; he handed them everything they craved on a platter. 30But their greed knew no bounds; they stuffed their mouths with more and more. 31Finally, God was fed up, his anger erupted— he cut down their brightest and best, he laid low Israel’s finest young men. 32And—can you believe it?—they kept right on sinning; all those wonders and they still wouldn’t believe! 33So their lives dribbled off to nothing— nothing to show for their lives but a ghost town. 34When he cut them down, they came running for help; they turned and pled for mercy. 35They gave witness that God was their rock, that High God was their redeemer, 36But they didn’t mean a word of it; they lied through their teeth the whole time. 37They could not have cared less about him, wanted nothing to do with his Covenant. 38And God? Compassionate! Forgave the sin! Didn’t destroy! Over and over he reined in his anger, restrained his considerable wrath. 39He knew what they were made of; he knew there wasn’t much to them, 40How often in the desert they had spurned him, tried his patience in those wilderness years. 41Time and again they pushed him to the limit, provoked Israel’s Holy God. 42How quickly they forgot what he’d done, forgot their day of rescue from the enemy, 43When he did miracles in Egypt, wonders on the plain of Zoan. 44He turned the River and its streams to blood— not a drop of water fit to drink. 45He sent flies, which ate them alive, and frogs, which bedeviled them. 46He turned their harvest over to caterpillars, everything they had worked for to the locusts. 47He flattened their grapevines with hail; a killing frost ruined their orchards. 48He pounded their cattle with hail, let thunderbolts loose on their herds. 49His anger flared, a wild firestorm of havoc, An advance guard of disease–carrying angels 50to clear the ground, preparing the way before him. He didn’t spare those people, he let the plague rage through their lives. 51He killed all the Egyptian firstborns, lusty infants, offspring of Ham’s virility. 52Then he led his people out like sheep, took his flock safely through the wilderness. 53He took good care of them; they had nothing to fear. The Sea took care of their enemies for good. 54He brought them into his holy land, this mountain he claimed for his own. 55He scattered everyone who got in their way; he staked out an inheritance for them— the tribes of Israel all had their own places. 56But they kept on giving him a hard time, rebelled against God, the High God, refused to do anything he told them. 57They were worse, if that’s possible, than their parents: traitors—crooked as a corkscrew. 58Their pagan orgies provoked God’s anger, their obscene idolatries broke his heart. 59When God heard their carryings–on, he was furious; he posted a huge No over Israel. 60He walked off and left Shiloh empty, abandoned the shrine where he had met with Israel. 61He let his pride and joy go to the dogs, turned his back on the pride of his life. 62He turned them loose on fields of battle; angry, he let them fend for themselves. 63Their young men went to war and never came back; their young women waited in vain. 64Their priests were massacred, and their widows never shed a tear. 65Suddenly the Lord was up on his feet like someone roused from deep sleep, shouting like a drunken warrior. 66He hit his enemies hard, sent them running, yelping, not daring to look back. 67He disqualified Joseph as leader, told Ephraim he didn’t have what it takes, 68And chose the Tribe of Judah instead, Mount Zion, which he loves so much. 69He built his sanctuary there, resplendent, solid and lasting as the earth itself. 70Then he chose David, his servant, handpicked him from his work in the sheep pens. 71One day he was caring for the ewes and their lambs, the next day God had him shepherding Jacob, his people Israel, his prize possession. 72His good heart made him a good shepherd; he guided the people wisely and well.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About