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God’s Faithfulness in Israel’s History

A maskil of Asaph.[a]

78 Listen, O my people, to my teaching.
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will offer[b] a parable with my mouth.
I will pour out riddles from long ago,
that we have heard and known,
and our ancestors[c] have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,[d]
telling the next generation the praises of Yahweh,
and his power and his wonders that he has done.
For he established a testimony in Jacob,
and appointed a law[e] in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors[f]
to teach to their children,
so that the next generation might know—
children yet to be born—
that they might rise up and tell their children,
that they might set their confidence in God,
and not forget the deeds of God,
but keep his commandments,
and not be like their ancestors,[g]
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation that did not make ready its heart,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The sons of Ephraim, armed with archers,[h]
turned back on the day of battle.
10 They did not keep the covenant of God
and refused to go in his law.[i]
11 They also forgot his deeds,
and his wonders that he had shown them.
12 In front of their ancestors[j] he did a wonder,
in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
13 He split the sea and caused them to go over,
and he caused waters to stand like a heap.
14 And he led them with the cloud by day,
and all night with a fiery light.
15 He caused rocks to split in the wilderness
and provided drink abundantly as from the depths.
16 And he brought streams out of the rock
and caused water to flow down like rivers.
17 But they sinned still further against him
by rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18 And they tested God in their heart
by asking food for their craving.[k]
19 And they spoke against God.
They said, “Is God able
to prepare a table in the wilderness?
20 Yes, he struck the rock and water flowed
and streams gushed out,
but can he also give food
or provide meat for his people?”
21 Therefore Yahweh heard
and he was very angry,
and a fire was kindled against Jacob,
and his anger also rose up against Israel,
22 because they did not believe God,
and they did not trust his salvation.
23 Nevertheless, he commanded the skies above
and opened the doors of heaven,
24 and rained down on them manna to eat
and gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Humankind ate the bread of angels.[l]
He sent them food enough to be satisfied.
26 He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens
and drove along the south wind by his strength.
27 Then he rained meat on them like dust,
even winged birds[m] like the sand of the seas.
28 He caused them to fall in the midst of his camp,
all around his dwellings.
29 So they ate and were well filled,
and he brought about what they craved.
30 They had not yet turned aside from their craving,
while their food was still in their mouth,
31 the anger of God rose against them,
and he killed some of the stoutest of them,
even the young men of Israel he caused to bow down in death.
32 In spite of all this they sinned further
and did not believe his wonders.
33 And he consumed their days with futility [n]
their years with terror.[o]
34 When he killed some of them, then they sought him,
and repented and earnestly sought God.
35 And they remembered that God was their rock,
and God Most High their redeemer.
36 But they enticed him with their mouth
and lied to him with their tongue.
37 For their heart was not steadfast with him,
nor were they faithful to his covenant.
38 But he was compassionate; he pardoned[p] their guilt
and did not destroy them.
And many times he turned back his anger
and did not stir up all his wrath,
39 for he remembered that they were flesh,
a passing wind that does not return.
40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and vexed him in the wasteland!
41 So they again tested God
and distressed[q] the Holy One of Israel.
42 And they did not remember his power[r]
when[s] he redeemed them from the enemy,
43 how he performed[t] his signs in Egypt
and his wonders in the region of Zoan,
44 when he turned their rivers[u] to blood
so they could not drink from their streams.
45 He sent among them flies that devoured them
and frogs that destroyed them.
46 And he gave their crop to the locusts
and their labor to the locust.[v]
47 He destroyed their vines with hail
and their sycamore trees with sleet.[w]
48 He also handed their cattle over to the hail
and their livestock to the lightning bolts.
49 He sent against them his fierce anger,
rage and indignation and trouble,
a band of destroying[x] angels.
50 He cleared a path for his anger.
He did not spare them[y] from death
but handed their life over to the plague.
51 And he struck down all the firstborn in Egypt,
the first of their virility in the tents of Ham.
52 Then he led out his people like sheep
and guided them like a herd in the wilderness.
53 And he led them safely and they were not afraid,
but the sea covered their enemies.
54 So he brought them to his holy territory,[z]
this mountain his right hand acquired.[aa]
55 And he drove out nations before them
and allocated them for an inheritance by boundary line,
and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.
56 But they tested and rebelled against God Most High
and did not keep his statutes.
57 And they turned and were treacherous like their ancestors.[ab]
They twisted like a crooked[ac] bow.
58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places,
and made him jealous with their images.
59 God heard and he was very angry
and rejected Israel utterly.
60 So he abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh,
the tent he had placed among humankind.
61 And he gave his strength into captivity
and his splendor into the hand of the enemy.
62 He also handed his people over to the sword,
and he was very angry with his inheritance.
63 Fire devoured his young men,
and his young women[ad] were not praised.
64 His priests fell by the sword,
and his widows did not weep.
65 Then the Lord awoke like one who had been asleep,
awoke like a warrior who had been drunk with wine.[ae]
66 And he beat back his enemies;
he gave them over to perpetual scorn.
67 And he rejected the tent of Joseph,
and did not chose the tribe of Ephraim,
68 but chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion[af] that he loved.
69 And he built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth that he established forever.
70 And he chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds.
71 He brought him from following nursing ewes
to shepherd Jacob, his people,
and Israel, his inheritance.
72 And he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
and led them by the skillfulness of his hands.


  1. Psalm 78:1 The Hebrew Bible counts the superscription as the first verse of the psalm
  2. Psalm 78:2 Hebrew “open”
  3. Psalm 78:3 Or “fathers”
  4. Psalm 78:4 Or “descendants”
  5. Psalm 78:5 Hebrew torah
  6. Psalm 78:5 Or “fathers”
  7. Psalm 78:8 Or “fathers”
  8. Psalm 78:9 Literally “armed with shooters of the bow”
  9. Psalm 78:10 Hebrew torah
  10. Psalm 78:12 Or “fathers”
  11. Psalm 78:18 Literally “for their soul”
  12. Psalm 78:25 Literally “mighty ones”
  13. Psalm 78:27 Hebrew “bird”
  14. Psalm 78:33 Or “he ended their days like a breath”
  15. Psalm 78:33 Or “and their years suddenly”
  16. Psalm 78:38 Or “covered,” or “atoned for”
  17. Psalm 78:41 Or perhaps, “pressed to the limit”
  18. Psalm 78:42 Literally “hand”
  19. Psalm 78:42 Literally “the day that”
  20. Psalm 78:43 Hebrew “set”
  21. Psalm 78:44 Normally the word for the Nile, with the plural here suggesting perhaps it and its canals
  22. Psalm 78:46 Two different words translated “locusts”
  23. Psalm 78:47 The word for “sleet” is only used here, and the translation is a guess based on context
  24. Psalm 78:49 Literally “evil”
  25. Psalm 78:50 Hebrew “their soul”
  26. Psalm 78:54 Hebrew “border”
  27. Psalm 78:54 Or “had created”
  28. Psalm 78:57 Or “fathers”
  29. Psalm 78:57 Or “deceitful”
  30. Psalm 78:63 Or “virgins”
  31. Psalm 78:65 Or “like a warrior shouting because of wine”
  32. Psalm 78:68 Literally “the mountain of Zion”