78 O my people, listen to my teaching. Open your ears to what I am saying. 2-3 For I will show you lessons from our history, stories handed down to us from former generations. 4 I will reveal these truths to you so that you can describe these glorious deeds of Jehovah to your children and tell them about the mighty miracles he did. 5 For he gave his laws to Israel and commanded our fathers to teach them to their children, 6 so that they in turn could teach their children too. Thus his laws pass down from generation to generation. 7 In this way each generation has been able to obey his laws and to set its hope anew on God and not forget his glorious miracles. 8 Thus they did not need to be as their fathers were—stubborn, rebellious, unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.
9 The people of Ephraim, though fully armed, turned their backs and fled when the day of battle came 10 because they didn’t obey his laws. They refused to follow his ways. 11-12 And they forgot about the wonderful miracles God had done for them and for their fathers in Egypt. 13 For he divided the sea before them and led them through! The water stood banked up along both sides of them! 14 In the daytime he led them by a cloud, and at night by a pillar of fire. 15 He split open the rocks in the wilderness to give them plenty of water, as though gushing from a spring. 16 Streams poured from the rock, flowing like a river!
17 Yet they kept on with their rebellion, sinning against the God who is above all gods. 18 They murmured and complained, demanding other food than God was giving them. 19-20 They even spoke against God himself. “Why can’t he give us decent food as well as water?” they grumbled. 21 Jehovah heard them and was angry; the fire of his wrath burned against Israel 22 because they didn’t believe in God or trust in him to care for them, 23 even though he commanded the skies to open—he opened the windows of heaven— 24 and rained down manna for their food. He gave them bread from heaven! 25 They ate angels’ food! He gave them all they could hold.
26 And he led forth the east wind and guided the south wind by his mighty power. 27 He rained down birds as thick as dust, clouds of them like sands along the shore! 28 He caused the birds to fall to the ground among the tents. 29 The people ate their fill. He gave them what they asked for. 30 But they had hardly finished eating, and the meat was yet in their mouths, 31 when the anger of the Lord rose against them and killed the finest of Israel’s young men. 32 Yet even so the people kept on sinning and refused to believe in miracles. 33 So he cut their lives short and gave them years of terror and disaster.
34 Then at last, when he had ruined them, they walked awhile behind him; how earnestly they turned around and followed him! 35 Then they remembered that God was their Rock—that their Savior was the God above all gods. 36 But it was only with their words that they followed him, not with their hearts; 37 their hearts were far away. They did not keep their promises. 38 Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and didn’t destroy them all. Many and many a time he held back his anger. 39 For he remembered that they were merely mortal men, gone in a moment like a breath of wind.
40 Oh, how often they rebelled against him in those desert years and grieved his heart. 41 Again and again they turned away and tempted God to kill them, and limited the Holy One of Israel from giving them his blessings. 42 They forgot his power and love and how he had rescued them from their enemies; 43 they forgot the plagues he sent upon the Egyptians in Tanis[a]— 44 how he turned their rivers into blood so that no one could drink, 45 how he sent vast swarms of flies to fill the land, and how the frogs had covered all of Egypt!
46 He gave their crops to caterpillars. Their harvest was consumed by locusts. 47 He destroyed their grapevines and their sycamores with hail. 48 Their cattle died in the fields, mortally wounded by huge hailstones from heaven. Their sheep were killed by lightning. 49 He loosed on them the fierceness of his anger, sending sorrow and trouble. He dispatched against them a band of destroying angels. 50 He gave free course to his anger and did not spare the Egyptians’ lives, but handed them over to plagues and sickness. 51 Then he killed the eldest son[b] in each Egyptian family—he who was the beginning of its strength and joy.
52 But he led forth his own people like a flock, guiding them safely through the wilderness. 53 He kept them safe, so they were not afraid. But the sea closed in upon their enemies and overwhelmed them. 54 He brought them to the border of his land of blessing, to this land of hills he made for them. 55 He drove out the nations occupying the land and gave each tribe of Israel its apportioned place as its home.
56 Yet though he did all this for them, they still rebelled against the God above all gods and refused to follow his commands. 57 They turned back from entering the Promised Land and disobeyed as their fathers had. Like a crooked arrow, they missed the target of God’s will. 58 They made him angry by erecting idols and altars to other gods.
59 When God saw their deeds, his wrath was strong and he despised his people. 60 Then he abandoned his Tabernacle at Shiloh, where he had lived among mankind, 61 and allowed his Ark to be captured; he surrendered his glory into enemy hands. 62 He caused his people to be butchered because his anger was intense. 63 Their young men were killed by fire, and their girls died before they were old enough to sing their wedding songs. 64 The priests were slaughtered, and their widows died before they could even begin their lament. 65 Then the Lord rose up as though awakening from sleep, and like a mighty man aroused by wine, 66 he routed his enemies; he drove them back and sent them to eternal shame. 67 But he rejected Joseph’s family, the tribe of Ephraim, 68 and chose the tribe of Judah—and Mount Zion, which he loved. 69 There he built his towering temple, solid and enduring as the heavens and the earth. 70 He chose his servant David, taking him from feeding sheep 71-72 and from following the ewes with lambs; God presented David to his people as their shepherd, and he cared for them with a true heart and skillful hands.
- Psalm 78:43 Tanis, literally, “the plains of Zoan.”
- Psalm 78:51 the eldest son, literally, “all the firstborn.”
The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.