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Psalm 78Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Psalm 78

Lessons from Israel’s Past

A Maskil of Asaph.

My people, hear my instruction;
listen to what I say.
I will declare wise sayings;
I will speak mysteries from the past
things we have heard and known
and that our fathers have passed down to us.
We must not hide them from their children,
but must tell a future generation
the praises of the Lord,
His might, and the wonderful works
He has performed.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and set up a law in Israel,
which He commanded our fathers
to teach to their children
so that a future generation—
children yet to be born—might know.
They were to rise and tell their children
so that they might put their confidence in God
and not forget God’s works,
but keep His commands.
Then they would not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not loyal
and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The Ephraimite archers turned back
on the day of battle.
10 They did not keep God’s covenant
and refused to live by His law.
11 They forgot what He had done,
the wonderful works He had shown them.
12 He worked wonders in the sight of their fathers
in the land of Egypt, the region of Zoan.
13 He split the sea and brought them across;
the water stood firm like a wall.
14 He led them with a cloud by day
and with a fiery light throughout the night.
15 He split rocks in the wilderness
and gave them drink as abundant as the depths.
16 He brought streams out of the stone
and made water flow down like rivers.

17 But they continued to sin against Him,
rebelling in the desert against the Most High.
18 They deliberately[a] tested God,
demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God, saying,
“Is God able to provide food in the wilderness?
20 Look! He struck the rock and water gushed out;
torrents overflowed.
But can He also provide bread
or furnish meat for His people?”
21 Therefore, the Lord heard and became furious;
then fire broke out against Jacob,
and anger flared up against Israel
22 because they did not believe God
or rely on His salvation.
23 He gave a command to the clouds above
and opened the doors of heaven.
24 He rained manna for them to eat;
He gave them grain from heaven.
25 People[b] ate the bread of angels.[c]
He sent them an abundant supply of food.
26 He made the east wind blow in the skies
and drove the south wind by His might.
27 He rained meat on them like dust,
and winged birds like the sand of the seas.
28 He made them fall in His camp,
all around His tent.[d][e]
29 They ate and were completely satisfied,
for He gave them what they craved.
30 Before they had satisfied their desire,
while the food was still in their mouths,
31 God’s anger flared up against them,
and He killed some of their best men.
He struck down Israel’s choice young men.

32 Despite all this, they kept sinning
and did not believe His wonderful works.
33 He made their days end in futility,
their years in sudden disaster.
34 When He killed some of them,
the rest began to seek Him;
they repented and searched for God.
35 They remembered that God was their rock,
the Most High God, their Redeemer.
36 But they deceived Him with their mouths,
they lied to Him with their tongues,
37 their hearts were insincere toward Him,
and they were unfaithful to His covenant.
38 Yet He was compassionate;
He atoned for[f] their guilt
and did not destroy them.
He often turned His anger aside
and did not unleash[g] all His wrath.
39 He remembered that they were only flesh,
a wind that passes and does not return.

40 How often they rebelled against Him
in the wilderness
and grieved Him in the desert.
41 They constantly tested God
and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember His power shown
on the day He redeemed them from the foe,
43 when He performed His miraculous signs in Egypt
and His wonders in the region of Zoan.
44 He turned their rivers into blood,
and they could not drink from their streams.
45 He sent among them swarms of flies,
which fed on them,
and frogs, which devastated them.
46 He gave their crops to the caterpillar
and the fruit of their labor to the locust.
47 He killed their vines with hail
and their sycamore fig trees with a flood.
48 He handed over their livestock to hail
and their cattle to lightning bolts.
49 He sent His burning anger against them:
fury, indignation, and calamity—
a band of deadly messengers.[h]
50 He cleared a path for His anger.
He did not spare them from death
but delivered their lives to the plague.
51 He struck all the firstborn in Egypt,
the first progeny of the tents of Ham.[i]
52 He led His people out like sheep
and guided them like a flock in the wilderness.
53 He led them safely, and they were not afraid;
but the sea covered their enemies.
54 He brought them to His holy land,
to the mountain His right hand acquired.
55 He drove out nations before them.
He apportioned their inheritance by lot
and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.

56 But they rebelliously tested the Most High God,
for they did not keep His decrees.
57 They treacherously turned away like their fathers;
they became warped like a faulty bow.
58 They enraged Him with their high places
and provoked His jealousy with their carved images.
59 God heard and became furious;
He completely rejected Israel.
60 He abandoned the tabernacle at Shiloh,
the tent where He resided among men.[j]
61 He gave up His strength[k] to captivity
and His splendor to the hand of a foe.
62 He surrendered His people to the sword
because He was enraged with His heritage.
63 Fire consumed His chosen young men,
and His young women had no wedding songs.[l]
64 His priests fell by the sword,
but the[m] widows could not lament.[n]

65 Then the Lord awoke as if from sleep,
like a warrior from the effects of wine.
66 He beat back His foes;
He gave them lasting shame.
67 He rejected the tent of Joseph
and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim.
68 He chose instead the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which He loved.
69 He built His sanctuary like the heights,[o]
like the earth that He established forever.
70 He chose David His servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
71 He brought him from tending ewes
to be shepherd over His people Jacob—
over Israel, His inheritance.
72 He shepherded them with a pure heart
and guided them with his skillful hands.


  1. Psalm 78:18 Lit in their heart
  2. Psalm 78:25 Lit Man
  3. Psalm 78:25 Lit mighty ones
  4. Psalm 78:28 LXX, Syr read in their camp, all around their tents
  5. Psalm 78:28 Or in its camp, all around its tents
  6. Psalm 78:38 Or He wiped out, or He forgave
  7. Psalm 78:38 Or stir up
  8. Psalm 78:49 Or angels
  9. Psalm 78:51 Ham’s descendants who settled in Egypt
  10. Psalm 78:60 Hb adam
  11. Psalm 78:61 = the ark of the covenant
  12. Psalm 78:63 Lit virgins were not praised
  13. Psalm 78:64 Lit His
  14. Psalm 78:64 War probably prevented customary funerals.
  15. Psalm 78:69 Either the heights of heaven or the mountain heights

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