July 31st Psalm 77
A Psalm of Asaph
1: I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me. 2: In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. 3: I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. 4: Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. 5: I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. 6: I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. 7: Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? 8: Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? 9: Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah. 10: And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. 11: I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. 12: I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. 13: Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? 14: Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. 15: Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. 16: The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. 17: The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. 18: The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. 19: Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. 20: Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Maschil of Asaph
1: Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2: I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: 3: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4: 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. 5: 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: 6: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: 7: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: 8: 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. 9: The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. 10: They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; 11: And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them. 12: Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. 13: He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap. 14: In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire. 15: He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. 16: He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. 17: And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. 18: And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. 19: Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? 20: 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? 21: Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; 22: Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation: 23: Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, 24: And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. 25: Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full. 26: He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind. 27: He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea: 28: And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations. 29: So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; 30: They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, 31: The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel. 32: For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works. 33: Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble. 34: When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and inquired early after God. 35: And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. 36: Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. 37: For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. 38: 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. 39: For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. 40: How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! 41: Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. 42: They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. 43: How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan: 44: And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink. 45: He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them. 46: He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust. 47: He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost. 48: He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts. 49: He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. 50: He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence; 51: And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham: 52: But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. 53: And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. 54: And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased. 55: 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. 56: Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: 57: But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow. 58: For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images. 59: When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: 60: So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; 61: And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand. 62: He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance. 63: The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage. 64: Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation. 65: Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine. 66: And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach. 67: Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim: 68: But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved. 69: And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever. 70: He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: 71: From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. 72: So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
Today we are reading Psalm 77 & 78. In Psalm 77 Asaph brings before us two stark alternatives, in two verses. In verses 1-9 he speaks about what it is like when men are troubled by the things of this life and in the second verse v10-20 he speaks about what he remembers of former days when God blessed him. In the first verse the result is misery and in the second he remembers what blessing he had known. He begins saying I cried to the Lord and he heard me. In my time of trouble I sought the Lord. My open wound wept all night and my soul could not be comforted. When I thought of God my mind was troubled and when I complained my spirit was overcome within me. Think about what that was like. The Lord took sleep from me and I didn’t know what to say. I thought about long gone days and I remembered the times when my Heart was full of joy all night. I talked to myself and tried to find out the reason for my unhappiness. I said to myself, will the Lord desert me forever? Will he not show kindness to me again? Has his mercy disappeared? Will his promise to me fail? Has God forgotten how to show kindness to me? Has his anger closed the door of his merciful gentleness? Think about what that would be like? I said to myself, says Asaph, this is how my life is now! But I remember the times when the Lord stretched out his hand to bless me. I remember all the things that God did for me. He did wonderful things. And so he says, I will remember and mull over the great things God did for me and I will talk about them. The ways of God are only discovered in the holy place and who is so great a God as our God? You are the God of wonders. You have revealed your strength to your people. You redeemed your people the children of Israel and especially Joseph. Think about that. The waters saw you and were frightened even the depths of the ocean were disturbed. The clouds emptied themselves and the sky was ripped apart and the lightening flew across the sky. The crash of thunder filled the heavens and the lightening lit up the entire world. The earth trembled and shook. You made a path through the sea, through great waters and your people followed your footsteps. You led your people like a flock of sheep by the hand of Moses and Aaron. In Psalm 78 Asaph brings a ‘teaching’ Psalm. This is a big Psalm by any standards - the biggest yet. This Psalm also has two main verses. The first verse speaks of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt and the stalemate in the desert and the second verse speaks of the entrance into the land and their judgment in the land. It begins with the giving of the law and ends with the establishment of the kingdom and in particular the temple. So one could say the first verse is about the Tabernacle and the second about the temple. But both verses focus on the disobedience of Israel. Asaph begins saying that he will outline things which have been little understood because they are difficult to write and difficult to accept. He says they might be hard to accept but we will not hide them from our children. They need to learn these lessons lest they repeat them. He tells of Gods calling of Israel and of the giving of the law. He is saying these things so that future generations might set their hope in the Lord and not forget the things that God has done and they will keep the righteousness of the law. What he says is that Israel turned away from the Lord and they ran in the face of the enemy. They didn’t keep the solemn covenant that they made and they refused to keep the law. He says they forgot about the amazing deliverance of Israel through The Gulf of Aqabar. They he recounts all the things God did, the pillar of cloud and fire. The cleft rock. The temptation of the Lord in asking for meat and the terrible unbelief in Gods provision. They said can God feed us? Can he give us bread? The Lord was so angry that fire consumed many of them. They did not put their trust in the Lord that he would save them. Yet he gave them bread from heaven. They ate the food of angels. And he gave then meat from the Arabian Desert. And when their mouths were full of meat he brought judgment on them for their greed. Yet they still sinned against the Lord by not trusting in him. In the end when the Lord killed so many of them then they sought the Lord and returned to him. Still they were not true in their minds and yet the Lord forgave them. They didn’t remember all the mighty things he had done in Egypt. Yet the Lord brought them out of Egypt and into the land he promised. And he threw out all the nations that were there and divided the land as an inheritance to them. Yet they all forsook the Lord and he brought judgment on them again. And the Lord raised up a king who had the very mind of God and from following the pregnant ewes. David fed them because of his integrity and he guided them through his skilfulness.