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An instruction[a] of Asaph

Remembering God in Times of Trouble

78 Listen, my people, to my instruction.
    Hear[b] the words of my mouth.
I will tell[c] a parable,
    speaking riddles from long ago—
things that we have heard and known
    and that our ancestors related to us.
We will not withhold them from their descendants;
    we’ll declare to the next generation the praises of the Lord
        his might and awesome deeds that he has performed.

He established a decree in Jacob,
    and established the Law in Israel,
that he commanded our ancestors
    to reveal to their children
in order that the next generation—
    children yet to be born—
will know them and
    in turn teach them to their children.
Then they will put their trust in God
    and they will not forget his awesome deeds.
        Instead, they will keep his commandments.
They will not be like the rebellious generation of their ancestors,
    a rebellious generation,
whose heart was not steadfast,
    and whose spirits were unfaithful to God.
The descendants of Ephraim were sharp shooters with the bow,
    but they retreated in the day of battle.
10 They did not keep God’s covenant,
    and refused to live by his Law.
11 They have forgotten what he has done,
    his awesome deeds that they witnessed.

12 He performed marvelous things
    in the presence of their ancestors
in the land of Egypt—
    in the fields of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea so that they were able to cross;
    he caused the water to stand in a single location.
14 He led them with a cloud during the day,
    and during the night with light from the fire.
15 He caused the rocks to split in the wilderness,
    and gave them water[d] as from an abundant sea.
16 He brought streams from rock,
    causing water to flow like a river.

17 But time and again, they sinned against him,
    rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18 To test God was in their minds,
    when they demanded food to satisfy their cravings.[e]
19 They spoke against God by asking,
    “Is God able to prepare a feast[f] in the desert?
20 It’s true that[g] Moses[h] struck the rock so that water flowed forth
    and torrents of water gushed out,
but is he also able to give bread
    or to supply meat for his people?”

21 Therefore, when the Lord heard this, he was angry,
    and fire broke out against Jacob.
Moreover, his anger flared against Israel,
22 because they didn’t believe in God
        and didn’t trust in his deliverance.
23 Yet he commanded the skies above
    and the doors of the heavens to open,
24 so that manna rained down on them for food
    and he sent them the grain of heaven.
25 Mortal men[i] ate the food of angels;
    he sent provision to them in abundance.

26 He stirred up the east wind in the heavens
    and drove the south wind by his might.
27 He caused meat to rain on them like dust
    and winged birds as the sand of the sea.
28 He caused these to fall in the middle of the camp
    and all around their tents.
29 So they ate and were very satisfied,
    because he granted their desire.
30 However, before they had fulfilled their desire,
    while their food was still in their mouths,
31 the anger of God flared against them,
    and he killed the strongest men
        and humbled Israel’s young men.

32 In spite of all of this, they kept on sinning
    and didn’t believe in his marvelous deeds.
33 So he made their days end in futility,
    and their years with sudden terror.
34 When he struck them, they sought him;
    they repented, and eagerly sought God.
35 Then they remembered that God was their rock,
    and the Most High God was their deliverer.
36 But they deceived him with their mouths;
    they lied to him with their tongues.
37 For their hearts weren’t committed to him,
    and they weren’t faithful to his covenant.
38 But he, being merciful, forgave their iniquity
    and didn’t destroy them;
He restrained his anger
    and didn’t vent all his wrath.
39 For he remembered that they were only flesh,
    a passing wind that doesn’t return.

40 How they rebelled against him in the desert,
    grieving him in the wilderness!
41 They tested God again and again,
    provoking the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power—
    the day he delivered them from their adversary,
43 when he set his signs in Egypt
    and his wonders in the plain of Zoan.

44 He turned their rivers into blood
    and made their streams undrinkable.
45 He sent swarms of insects to bite them
    and frogs to destroy them.
46 He gave their crops to caterpillars
    and what they worked for to locusts.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail
    and their sycamore[j] trees with frost.
48 He delivered their beasts to hail
    and their livestock to lightning bolts.
49 He inflicted his burning anger,
    wrath, indignation, and distress,
        sending destroying angels among them.
50 He blazed a path for his anger;
    he did not stop short from killing them,
        but handed them over to pestilence.
51 He struck every firstborn in Egypt,
    the first fruits of their manhood in the tents of Ham.
52 Yet he led out his people like sheep,
    guiding them like a flock in the desert.
53 He led them to safety so they would not fear.
    As for their enemies, the sea covered them.
54 He brought the people[k] to the border of his holy mountain,
    which he acquired by his might.
55 He drove out nations before them
    and allotted their tribal inheritance,
        settling the tribes of Israel in their tents.

56 But they tested the Most High God by rebelling against him,
    and they did not obey his statutes.
57 They fell away and were as disloyal as their ancestors.
    They became unreliable, like a defective bow;
58 they angered him with their high places
    and with their carved images they made him jealous.

59 God heard and became furious,
    and he completely rejected Israel.
60 He abandoned the tent at Shiloh,
    the tent that he established among mankind.
61 Then he sent his might[l] into captivity
    and his glory into the control of the adversary.
62 He delivered his people over to the sword
    and was angry with his possession.
63 The young men were consumed by fire,
    and the virgins had no marriage celebrations.[m]
64 The priests fell by the sword,
    yet their widows couldn’t weep.

65 The Lord awoke as though from sleep,
    like a mighty warrior stimulated by wine.
66 He beat back his adversaries,
    permanently disgracing them.

67 He rejected the clan[n] of Joseph;
    and the tribe of Ephraim he did not choose.
68 But he chose the tribe of Judah,
    the mountain of Zion, which he loves.
69 He built his sanctuary, high as the heavens,
    like the earth that he established forever.
70 Then he chose his servant David,
    whom he took from the sheepfold.
71 He brought him from birthing sheep
    to care for Jacob, his people,
        Israel, his possession.
72 David[o] shepherded them with a devoted heart,
    and led them with skillful hands.


  1. Psalm 78:1 Lit. maskil
  2. Psalm 78:1 Lit. Stretch out your ear
  3. Psalm 78:2 Lit. will open my mouth in
  4. Psalm 78:15 Lit. drink
  5. Psalm 78:18 Lit. food for their soul
  6. Psalm 78:19 Or table
  7. Psalm 78:20 Lit. Indeed,
  8. Psalm 78:20 Lit. he
  9. Psalm 78:25 Lit. A man
  10. Psalm 78:47 The sycamore fruit tree native to Israel bears figs
  11. Psalm 78:54 Lit. brought them
  12. Psalm 78:61 I.e. the Ark of the Covenant
  13. Psalm 78:63 Lit. virgins sang no wedding song
  14. Psalm 78:67 Lit. tent
  15. Psalm 78:72 Lit. He