Tuesday, February 07, 2023

2023.02.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 78:49–72

Read Psalm 78:49–72

Questions from the Scripture text: Which plague gets three full verses (Psalm 78:49-51)? What did God do for whom in Psalm 78:52-53a? Especially in which instance (Psalm 78:53b)? How does Psalm 78:54 describe the land to which God brought them? What three things does Psalm 78:55 say He did for them there? How did they treat God in return (Psalm 78:56)? Like whom (Psalm 78:57)? By what, specifically, did they provoke Him (Psalm 78:58)? And how did God respond to this (Psalm 78:59)? What had He previously done for them (Psalm 78:60)? And now what did He do with it (Psalm 78:61)? And what did He do with them (Psalm 78:62-64)? Especially mentioning even whom? How do Psalm 78:65-66 describe the restoration of His people? Upon whom and where did this restoration focus (Psalm 78:67-68)? How great is this restoration (Psalm 78:69)? Who is the type/forerunner/example of this restoration (Psalm 78:69-71)? What does this King do (Psalm 78:72)?

How can we be encouraged by the greatness of God’s fury against His people’s sins? Psalm 78:49–72 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the greatness of God’s fury against His people’s sins becomes the backdrop for the greater-ness of His delight to display the glory of Christ and the glory of His salvation. 

Ichabod; the glory has departed. Despite God’s pouring out His wrath upon Egypt unto death (Psalm 78:49-51), His people did not fear to test and provoke Him (Psalm 78:56a) by violating His Word (verse Psalm 78:56b). Despite God’s great patience (Psalm 78:10-55), gentleness (Psalm 78:52), deliverance (Psalm 78:53), and generosity (Psalm 78:54-55) with them, His people were not faithful but treacherous (Psalm 78:56-57). They even transgressed the commandment whose violators the Lord calls “those who hate me (Psalm 78:58, cf. Exodus 20:5). 

The events in Psalm 78:59-64 play out in 1 Samuel 4, even to the stunned silence (Psalm 78:64) of Phinehas’s wife in 1 Samuel 4:20, only able to blurt out a name for her new son that was attached not to the loss of her husband but the departure of the glory of the Lord. The language is shocking: “[God] was furious and greatly abhorred Israel” (Psalm 78:59). The action is shocking: “He forsook the tabernacle […] He delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy’s hand” (Psalm 78:60-61). We simply cannot comprehend how much the Lord hates man-made religion.

King of kings and Lord of lords. Psalm 78:65 introduces the deliverance, with which this Psalm ends, with some more shocking words: “Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, like a mighty man who shouts because of wine.” At first glance the rejection of Ephraim, and choosing of Judah and Zion, seems to be about the selection and coronation of David, especially with his mention in Psalm 78:70. But the crescendo is too grand, and its peak too high. This sanctuary is in the heights and established forever. And the shepherding in Psalm 78:72 begins to unravel even by the end of his own reign.

Yet, the Lord does take a humble King and raise Him up from His humility to exactly such a height. The Lord Jesus humbled Himself to take the form of a bondslave (Philippians 2:7), humbled Himself to death on a cross (Philippians 2:8), and has been raised to the height of King of kings and Lord of lords (Philippians 2:9-11), Who works in His people to will and to work according to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). He is the Shepherd, Who guides His people in integrity and skill (Psalm 78:71-72).

So we see the great delight of the Lord in glorifying Christ by saving through Him—that for these ends, He has been willing to endure generations of treachery even from those for whom He has done the most!

How else has God displayed to you His hatred for sin? How else has He displayed to you His patience, gentleness, deliverance, and generosity? Why has He been willing to put up with so much? How does this encourage you, as you cling to Christ? What ought it do to you, if you don’t?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You for Your holiness and justice. Truly Your wrath is a perfect response to the sins of men. And we praise You for Your great patience. How often You have been longsuffering with Your people’s sins. And we praise You for the greatness of Your deliverance—saving us from sin, and death, and Hell. And we praise You for Your great generosity—giving us Yourself to be our inheritance forever in a New Heaven and New Earth. We praise You that You have done all of this to display the glory of Christ, and the glory of Your salvation in Him. Grant that by Your Spirit, we would now delight in Christ’s glory, and His salvation’s glory, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP78H “Then He Struck Down” or TPH78 “O My People, Hear My Teaching”

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