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(A special psalm by Asaph.)

What God Has Done for His People

78 My friends, I beg you
    to listen as I teach.
I will give instruction
    and explain the mystery
    of what happened long ago.
These are things we learned
    from our ancestors,
    and we will tell them
    to the next generation.
We won’t keep secret
    the glorious deeds
    and the mighty miracles
    of the Lord.

God gave his Law
to Jacob’s descendants,
    the people of Israel.
And he told our ancestors
    to teach their children,
so that each new generation
would know his Law
    and tell it to the next.
Then they would trust God
    and obey his teachings,
    without forgetting anything
    God had done.
They would be different
    from their ancestors,
    who were stubborn, rebellious,
    and unfaithful to God.

The warriors from Ephraim
    were armed with arrows,
    but they ran away
    when the battle began.
10 They broke their agreement
    with God,
    and they turned their backs
    on his teaching.
11 They forgot all he had done,
    even the mighty miracles
12     he did for their ancestors
    near Zoan[a] in Egypt.

13 God made a path in the sea
    and piled up the water
    as he led them across.
14 He guided them during the day
    with a cloud,
    and each night he led them
    with a flaming fire.
15 God made water flow
from rocks
he split open
    in the desert,
    and his people drank freely,
    as though from a lake.
16 He made streams gush out
    like rivers from rocks.

17 But in the desert,
the people of God Most High
    kept sinning and rebelling.
18 They stubbornly tested God
    and demanded from him
    what they wanted to eat.
19 They challenged God by saying,
    “Can God provide food
    out here in the desert?
20 It’s true God struck the rock
and water gushed out
    like a river,
    but can he give his people
    bread and meat?”

21 When the Lord heard this,
    he was angry and furious
    with Jacob’s descendants,
    the people of Israel.
22 They had refused to trust him,
    and they had doubted
    his saving power.

23 But God gave a command
    to the clouds,
    and he opened the doors
    in the skies.
24 From heaven he sent grain
    that they called manna.[b]
25 He gave them more than enough,
    and each one of them ate
    this special food.

26 God’s mighty power
    brought a strong wind
    from the southeast,
27 and it brought birds
that covered the ground,
    like sand on the beach.
28 Then God made the birds fall
    in the camp of his people
    near their tents.

29 God gave his people
    all they wanted,
    and each of them ate
    until they were full.
30 But before they had swallowed
    the last bite,
31 God became angry and killed
the strongest
    and best
    from the families of Israel.

32 But the rest kept on sinning
    and would not trust
    God’s miracles.
33 So he cut their lives short
    and made them terrified.
34 After he killed some of them,
    the others turned to him
    with all their hearts.
35 They remembered God Most High,
    the mighty rock[c]
    that kept them safe.
36 But they tried to flatter God,
    and they told him lies;
37     they were unfaithful
    and broke their promises.

38 Yet God was kind.
He kept forgiving their sins
    and didn’t destroy them.
    He often became angry,
    but never lost his temper.
39 God remembered that they
    were made of flesh
and were like a wind
that blows once
    and then dies down.

40 While they were in the desert,
    they often rebelled
    and made God sad.
41 They kept testing him
    and caused terrible pain
    for the Holy One of Israel.
42 They forgot about his power
    and how he had rescued them
    from their enemies.

43 God showed them all kinds
of wonderful miracles
    near Zoan[d] in Egypt.
44 He turned the rivers of Egypt
    into blood,
    and no one could drink
    from the streams.
45 He sent swarms of flies
    to pester the Egyptians,
    and he sent frogs
    to cause them trouble.

46 God let worms and grasshoppers
    eat their crops.
47 He destroyed their grapevines
    and their fig trees
    with hail and floods.[e]
48 Then he killed their cattle
    with hail
    and their other animals
    with lightning.

49 God was so angry and furious
    that he went into a rage
and caused them great trouble
    by sending swarms
    of destroying angels.
50 God gave in to his anger
    and slaughtered them
    in a terrible way.
51 He killed the first-born son
    of each Egyptian family.

52 Then God led his people
    out of Egypt
    and guided them in the desert
    like a flock of sheep.
53 He led them safely along,
    and they were not afraid,
    but their enemies drowned
    in the sea.

54 God brought his people
    to the sacred mountain
    that he had taken
    by his own power.
55 He made nations run
    from the tribes of Israel,
    and he let the tribes
    take over their land.

56 But the people tested
    God Most High,
    and they refused
    to obey his laws.
57 They were as unfaithful
    as their ancestors,
    and they were as crooked
    as a twisted arrow.
58 God demanded all their love,
    but they made him angry
    by worshiping idols.

59 So God became furious
    and completely rejected
    the people of Israel.
60 Then he deserted his home
at Shiloh,
    where he lived
    here on earth.
61 He let enemies capture
the sacred chest[f]
    and let them dishonor him.

62 God took out his anger
    on his chosen ones
    and let them be killed
    by enemy swords.
63 Fire destroyed the young men,
    and the young women were left
    with no one to marry.
64 Priests died violent deaths,
    but their widows
    were not allowed to mourn.

65 Finally the Lord woke up,
    and he shouted
    like a drunken soldier.
66 God scattered his enemies
    and made them ashamed
    forever.

67 Then the Lord decided
    not to make his home
    with Joseph’s descendants
    in Ephraim.[g]
68 Instead he chose the tribe
    of Judah,
    and he chose Mount Zion,
    the place he loves.
69 There he built his temple
    as lofty as the mountains
and as solid as the earth
    that he had made
    to last forever.

70 The Lord God chose David
to be his servant
and took him
    from tending sheep
71     and from caring for lambs.
Then God made him the leader
    of Israel, his own nation.
72 David treated the people fairly
    and guided them with wisdom.

(A psalm by Asaph.)

Have Pity on Jerusalem

79 Our God, foreign nations
    have taken your land,
    disgraced your temple,
    and left Jerusalem in ruins.
They have fed the bodies
of your servants
    to flesh-eating birds;
    your loyal people are food
    for savage animals.
All Jerusalem is covered
    with their blood,
    and there is no one left
    to bury them.
Every nation around us
    sneers and makes fun.

Our Lord, will you keep on
    being angry?
    Will your angry feelings
    keep flaming up like fire?
Get angry with those nations
that don’t know you
    and won’t worship you!
They have gobbled down
Jacob’s descendants
    and left the land in ruins.

Don’t make us pay for the sins
    of our ancestors.
    Have pity and come quickly!
    We are completely helpless.
Our God, you keep us safe.
    Now help us! Rescue us.
    Forgive our sins
    and bring honor to yourself.

10 Why should nations ask us,
    “Where is your God?”
Let us and the other nations
    see you take revenge
    for your servants who died
    a violent death.

11 Listen to the prisoners groan!
Let your mighty power save all
    who are sentenced to die.
12     Each of those nations sneered
    at you, our Lord.
Now let others sneer at them,
    seven times as much.
13     Then we, your people,
    will always thank you.
We are like sheep
    with you as our shepherd,
    and all generations
    will hear us praise you.

Footnotes

  1. 78.12 Zoan: A city in the eastern part of the Nile Delta.
  2. 78.24 manna: When the people of Israel were wandering through the desert, the Lord gave them a special kind of food to eat. It tasted like a wafer and was called “manna,” which in Hebrew means, “What is this?”
  3. 78.35 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.
  4. 78.43 Zoan: See the note at 78.12.
  5. 78.47 floods: Or “frost.”
  6. 78.61 sacred chest: The Hebrew text has “his power,” which refers to the sacred chest. In Psalm 132.8 it is called “powerful.”
  7. 78.67 with. . . Ephraim: Ephraim was Joseph’s youngest son. One of the twelve tribes was named after him, and sometimes the northern kingdom of Israel was also known as Ephraim. The town of Shiloh was in the territory of Ephraim, but the place where God was worshiped was moved from there to Zion (Jerusalem) in the territory of Judah.