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Psalm 78

God’s Guidance of His People in Spite of Their Unfaithfulness.

A skillful song, or a didactic or reflective poem, of Asaph.

78 Listen, O my people, to my teaching;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth [and be willing to learn].

I will open my mouth in a parable [to instruct using examples];
I will utter dark and puzzling sayings of old [that contain important truth]—

Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.

We will not hide them from their children,
But [we will] tell to the generation to come the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
And [tell of] His great might and power and the wonderful works that He has done.


For He established a testimony (a specific precept) in Jacob
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers
That they should teach to their children [the great facts of God’s transactions with Israel],

That the generation to come might know them, that the children still to be born
May arise and recount them to their children,

That they should place their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,

And not be like their fathers—
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart to know and follow God,
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.


The sons of Ephraim were armed as archers and carrying bows,
Yet they turned back in the day of battle.
10 
They did not keep the covenant of God
And refused to walk according to His law;
11 
And they forgot His [incredible] works
And His miraculous wonders that He had shown them.
12 
He did marvelous things in the sight of their fathers
In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan [where Pharaoh resided].
13 
He divided the [Red] Sea and allowed them to pass through it,
And He made the waters stand up like [water behind] a dam.
14 
In the daytime He led them with a cloud
And all the night with a light of fire.
15 
He split rocks in the wilderness
And gave them abundant [water to] drink like the ocean depths.
16 
He brought streams also from the rock [at Rephidim and Kadesh]
And caused waters to run down like rivers.

17 
Yet they still continued to sin against Him
By rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18 
And in their hearts they put God to the test
By asking for food according to their [selfish] appetite.
19 
Then they spoke against God;
They said, “Can God prepare [food for] a table in the wilderness?
20 
“Behold, He struck the rock so that waters gushed out
And the streams overflowed;
Can He give bread also?
Or will He provide meat for His people?”

21 
Therefore, when the Lord heard, He was full of wrath;
A fire was kindled against Jacob,
And His anger mounted up against Israel,
22 
Because they did not believe in God [they did not rely on Him, they did not adhere to Him],
And they did not trust in His salvation (His power to save).
23 
Yet He commanded the clouds from above
And opened the doors of heaven;
24 
And He rained down manna upon them to eat
And gave them the grain of heaven.
25 
Man ate the bread of angels;
God sent them provision in abundance.
26 
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens
And by His [unlimited] power He guided the south wind.
27 
He rained meat upon them like the dust,
And winged birds (quail) like the sand of the seas.
28 
And He let them fall in the midst of their camp,
Around their tents.
29 
So they ate and were well filled,
He gave them what they craved.
30 
Before they had satisfied their desire,
And while their food was in their mouths,
31 
The wrath of God rose against them
And killed some of the strongest of them,
And subdued the choice young men of Israel.
32 
In spite of all this they still sinned,
For they did not believe in His wonderful and extraordinary works.
33 
Therefore He consumed their days like a breath [in emptiness and futility]
And their years in sudden terror.

34 
When He killed [some of] them, then those remaining sought Him,
And they returned [to Him] and searched diligently for God [for a time].
35 
And they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High God their Redeemer.
36 
Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouths
And lied to Him with their tongues.
37 
For their heart was not steadfast toward Him,
Nor were they faithful to His covenant.
38 
[a]But He, the source of compassion and lovingkindness, forgave their wickedness and did not destroy them;
Many times He restrained His anger
And did not stir up all His wrath.
39 
For He [graciously] remembered that they were mere [human] flesh,
A wind that goes and does not return.

40 
How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness
And grieved Him in the desert!
41 
Again and again they tempted God,
And distressed the Holy One of Israel.
42 
They did not remember [the miracles worked by] His [powerful] hand,
Nor the day when He redeemed them from the enemy,
43 
How He worked His miracles in Egypt
And His wonders in the field of Zoan [where Pharaoh resided],
44 
And turned their rivers into blood,
And their streams, so that they could not drink.
45 
He sent among them swarms of flies which devoured them,
And frogs which destroyed them.
46 
He also gave their crops to the grasshopper,
And the fruit of their labor to the locust.
47 
He destroyed their vines with [great] hailstones
And their sycamore trees with frost.
48 
He gave over their cattle also to the hailstones,
And their flocks and herds to thunderbolts.
49 
He sent upon them His burning anger,
His fury and indignation and distress,
A band of angels of destruction [among them].
50 
He leveled a path for His anger [to give it free run];
He did not spare their souls from death,
But turned over their lives to the plague.
51 
He killed all the firstborn in Egypt,
The first and best of their strength in the tents [of the land of the sons] of Ham.
52 
But God led His own people forward like sheep
And guided them in the wilderness like [a good shepherd with] a flock.
53 
He led them safely, so that they did not fear;
But the sea engulfed their enemies.

54 
So He brought them to His holy land,
To this mountain [Zion] which His right hand had acquired.
55 
He also drove out the nations before the sons of Israel
And allotted their land as an inheritance, measured out and partitioned;
And He had the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents [the tents of those who had been dispossessed].
56 
Yet they tempted and rebelled against the Most High God
And did not keep His testimonies (laws).
57 
They turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers;
They were twisted like a warped bow [that will not respond to the archer’s aim].
58 
For they provoked Him to [righteous] anger with their high places [devoted to idol worship]
And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images [by denying Him the love, worship, and obedience that is rightfully and uniquely His].
59 
When God heard this, He was filled with [righteous] wrath;
And utterly rejected Israel, [greatly hating her ways],
60 
So that He abandoned the tabernacle at Shiloh,
The tent in which He had dwelled among men,
61 
And gave up His strength and power (the ark of the covenant) into captivity,
And His glory into the hand of the enemy (the Philistines).
62 
He also handed His people over to the sword,
And was infuriated with His inheritance (Israel).
63 
The fire [of war] devoured His young men,
And His [bereaved] virgins had no wedding songs.
64 
His priests [Hophni and Phinehas] fell by the sword,
And His widows could not weep.

65 
Then the Lord awakened as from sleep,
Like a [mighty] warrior who awakens from the sleep of wine [fully conscious of his power].
66 
He drove His enemies backward;
He subjected them to lasting shame and dishonor.
67 
Moreover, He rejected the tent of Joseph,
And did not choose the tribe of Ephraim [in which the tabernacle stood].
68 
But He chose the tribe of Judah [as Israel’s leader],
Mount Zion, which He loved [to replace Shiloh as His capital].
69 
And He built His sanctuary [exalted] like the heights [of the heavens],
Like the earth which He has established forever.
70 
He also chose David His servant
And took him from the sheepfolds;
71 
[b]From [c]tending the ewes with nursing young He brought him
To shepherd Jacob His people,
And Israel His inheritance.
72 
So David shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart;
And guided them with his skillful hands.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 78:38 The ancient Sopherim, the Jewish scholars whose responsibility it was to do counts of all the letters, words, and verses of the OT, said that this verse marks the halfway point in Psalms.
  2. Psalm 78:71 The first impression one might receive from this passage is that God elevated David from the lowliest position in Israel to the highest. But the ancient rabbis said that God tested David’s skills and wisdom as a shepherd. For example, it is said that David held back the bigger sheep from the pasture and brought out the smaller ones first to graze on the tender grass. The rabbis represented God as saying, “He who knows how to shepherd the sheep, each one in proportion to its strength, shall come and shepherd My people.”
  3. Psalm 78:71 Lit following.
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Nehemiah 9:26-38

26 
“Yet they were disobedient and rebelled against You,
And cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets who warned them
To return to You;
And they committed great [and contemptible] blasphemies.
27 
“Therefore You handed them over to their enemies who oppressed them.
But when they cried out to You in the time of their suffering and distress,
You heard them from heaven, and according to Your great compassion You gave them [a]people to rescue them.
Who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.
28 
“But as soon as they had rest, they again did evil before You;
Therefore You abandoned them into the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them.
Yet when they turned and cried out again to You, You heard them from heaven,
And You rescued them many times in accordance with Your compassion,
29 
And You admonished them and warned them to turn them back to Your law.
Yet they acted presumptuously and arrogantly and did not heed Your commandments, but sinned against Your ordinances,
Which by keeping, a man will live.
But they turned a stubborn shoulder, stiffened their neck, and would not listen.
30 
“Yet You were patient with them for many years,
And admonished them and warned them by Your Spirit through Your prophets;
Still they would not [b]listen.
Therefore You gave them into the hand (power) of the peoples of the lands.
31 
“Yet in Your great compassion You did not utterly destroy them or abandon them,
For You are a gracious and merciful God.

32 
“Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps the covenant and lovingkindness,
Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You,
Which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people,
Since the time of the kings of Assyria to this day.
33 
“However, You are just and righteous in everything that has come upon us;
For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.
34 
Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept Your law
Or paid attention to Your commandments and Your warnings which You have given them.
35 
“But they, in their kingdom,
With Your great goodness which You gave them,
With the broad and rich land which You set before them,
Did not serve You or turn from their wicked deeds.
36 
“Behold, we are slaves today,
And as for the land which You gave our fathers, to eat of its fruit and its goodness,
Behold, we are slaves in it.
37 
“Its abundant produce is for the kings
Whom You have set over us because of our sins;
They also rule over our bodies
And over our cattle as they please,
So we are in great distress.

A Covenant Results

38 
[c]Now because of all this
We are making an agreement in writing;
And on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.”

Footnotes:

  1. Nehemiah 9:27 Lit deliverers.
  2. Nehemiah 9:30 Lit give ear.
  3. Nehemiah 9:38 Ch 10:1 in Hebrew.
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Revelation 18:9-20

Laments for Babylon

[a]And the kings and political leaders of the earth, who committed immorality and lived luxuriously with her, will weep and beat their chests [in mourning] over her when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing a long way off, in fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, the strong city, Babylon! In a single hour your judgment has come.’

11 “And merchants of the earth will weep and grieve over her, because no one buys their cargo (goods, merchandise) anymore— 12 cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet; all kinds of citron (scented) wood and every article of ivory and every article of very costly and lavish wood and bronze and iron and marble; 13 and cinnamon and spices and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat; of cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and carriages; and of slaves and human lives. 14 The ripe fruits and delicacies of your soul’s desire have gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and extravagant are lost to you, never again to be found. 15 The merchants who handled these articles, who grew wealthy from [their business with] her, will stand a long way off in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, 16 saying, ‘Woe, woe, for the great city that was robed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, gilded and adorned with gold, with precious stones, and with pearls; 17 because in one hour all the vast wealth has been laid waste.’ And every ship captain or navigator, and every [b]passenger and sailor, and all who make their living by the sea, stood a long way off, 18 and exclaimed as they watched the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What could be compared to the great city?’ 19 And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, for the great city, where all who had ships at sea grew rich from her great wealth, because in one hour she has been laid waste!’ 20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints (God’s people) and apostles and prophets [who were martyred], because God has executed vengeance for you [through righteous judgment] upon her.”

Footnotes:

  1. Revelation 18:9 In the following verses, the kings (vv 9, 10), merchants (vv 11-17), and sailors (vv 17b-20) mourn the fall of Babylon, just as the same three groups mourn the fall of wicked Tyre in Ezek 26; 27.
  2. Revelation 18:17 Lit one who sails to a place.
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Matthew 15:21-28

The Syrophoenician Woman

21 After leaving there, Jesus withdrew to the district of [a]Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a [b]Canaanite woman from that district came out and began to cry out [urgently], saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David (Messiah); my daughter is cruelly possessed by a demon.” 23 But He did not say a word in answer to her. And His disciples came and asked Him [repeatedly], “Send her away, because she keeps shouting out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was commissioned by God and sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began to kneel down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He replied, “It is not good (appropriate, fair) to take the [c]children’s bread and throw it to the [d]pet dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord; but even the pet dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their [young] masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, your faith [your personal trust and confidence in My power] is great; it will be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that moment.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 15:21 Tyre and Sidon were located along the Gentile coastal region of Phoenicia. Tyre was 35 miles and Sidon 60 miles north of Galilee.
  2. Matthew 15:22 The Canaanites were ancient, pagan enemies of Israel.
  3. Matthew 15:26 A reference to the Jewish people.
  4. Matthew 15:26 Jews used kuon (dog) as a derogatory term referring to Gentiles. This dog (kuon) was a despised, filthy, homeless street scavenger. When speaking with this woman, Jesus uses a word for “dog” (kunarion) that refers to a household pet. The use of the word kunariois by both Jesus and the woman reflects the tenderness and spiritual depth of this exchange. More importantly, it foreshadows the fact that Gentile believers would not be spiritually homeless, but would also be welcomed into God’s household as His children. The gracious response of the woman recorded in v 27 confirms that on some level she understands this.
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