Tuesday, January 24, 2023

2023.01.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 78:9–31

Read Psalm 78:9–31

Questions from the Scripture text: Who had what in Psalm 78:9a? But did what anyway (verse 9b)? What two other things (Psalm 78:10)? And what fourth (Psalm 78:11)? What was one of these great wonders (Psalm 78:12-13)? What was another (Psalm 78:14a)? And a third (verse 14b)? And a fourth (Psalm 78:15-16)? How had Israel responded then (Psalm 78:17)? Especially by what (Psalm 78:18-20)? Who heard them saying this (Psalm 78:21)? What was His triply-described response? What was the most offensive part of their insulting questions (Psalm 78:22)? What did God do for these rebels, who spoke against Him and did not trust Him (Psalm 78:23-25)? Which doors did He open (Psalm 78:23, cf. Genesis 7:11)? What rained down instead of a flood (Psalm 78:24a)? What sort of grain did He give them (verse 24b)? What sort of food (Psalm 78:25a)? How much of it (verse 25b)? What else did He give them (Psalm 78:26-27)? How much? And how easily obtained (Psalm 78:28)? To what purpose (Psalm 78:29-30)? But what came upon them in the midst of this (Psalm 78:31a)? With what results (verse 31b–c)?

How quickly and shockingly can God’s people forget Him and rebel? Psalm 78:9–31 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that our sinful natures are like those of that wilderness generation, who had been saved by glorious works but almost immediately sinned, rebelled against, spoke against, and tested God in their hearts. 

The Lord established a testimony in Jacob (Psalm 78:5a) in order that fathers should make them known to their children to succeeding generations (Psalm 78:5-6). The goal was that they would remember the works of God and keep His commandments (Psalm 78:7). But the problem was that the fathers to whom this charge was given did not even remember God’s works for themselves (Psalm 78:8). This week’s passage recounts their forgetting God’s works for themselves.

Why did Ephraim fail in battle (Psalm 78:9b) despite their weaponry (verse 9a)? Because victory is not by might nor by strength, but by the Spirit of God. And they had rebelled against Him. They did not keep His covenant (Psalm 78:10a). They refused to walk in His law (verse 10b). 

His works and wonders did not move them (Psalm 78:11). Such rebellion came even from those who saw the marvelous plagues by which He delivered them in Egypt (Psalm 78:12), the marvelous deliverance that He gave them through the sea (Psalm 78:13), the marvelous display of His presence to them in the glory cloud and pillar of fire (Psalm 78:14), and marvelous provision of water in the desert (Psalm 78:15-16). The greatness of the wonders. The number of the wonders. The quickness with which they forgot them. All of these are shocking!

Let us not flatter ourselves that we would be more affected toward God if we could only see many great wonders from Him. He has appointed not the works themselves but the repeated telling of the testimony (Psalm 78:5a) and the law (verse 5b) as the means by which He overcomes our sinful nature. It doesn’t come from our fathers, for they were rebellious. It doesn’t come from the wonders, for even those wonders could not bring the fathers to trust the Lord or obey Him. 

It's not that they forgot the wonders themselves. They remembered the water from the rock (Psalm 78:20a–c). They just didn’t believe in Him or trust Him (Psalm 78:22). All of our doubtings and grumblings are rebellion and sin against Him Who has proved Himself repeatedly. And He has proven Himself most at the cross!

Despite their rebellion against Him, He gave them more reason to love and wonder, with the raining down of bread enough to fill them all (Psalm 78:23-25). And He gave them more reason to pause and fear with the great plague that came with the quail meat (Psalm 78:26-31, cf. Numbers 11:33). How great is the mercy of God! And how great the stubbornness and persistence of man’s sinfulness! Desperately, then, we need to make use of His Word in the way that He has prescribed, so that generations of His people will set their hope in Him by grace, and remember Him by grace, and obey Him by grace.

When do you tend most to grumble? What, from God’s Word, applies directly to those situations? What, from God’s actions, reminds you that He must surely be doing you good even at those times?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You Yourself have given a testimony in Jacob and a law in Israel, so that by Your almighty Word, we might be made those who hope in You and remember You and obey You. We praise You for Your mighty and merciful work at the cross of Jesus Christ. Surely, this is the greatest of Your wonders! But help us now, by Your Spirit, we pray. In our flesh, we are often forgetful even of Your cross, and we induldge grumbling hearts. Grant that Your Spirit’s blessing upon Your Word would make us a thankful, worshiping, loving, serving people this day unto You, our God, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP78D “Yet in the Desert Still They Sinned” or TPH78 “O My People, Hear My Teaching”

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