Are you sick of hearing me talk about Psalms yet? It’s kind of too bad if you are, cause I’m not really planning on stopping any time soon. Well, I might. I don’t know. All I know is that there is much to be learned from this book. I always used to think that it was just kind of a “boring” book. Kind of repetitious, even. No stories. Authors who are either in complete awe of God’s power or feeling like He has abandoned them. Where is the consistency in that? If someone picked up the Bible and read Psalms, would they not come away slightly confused about the character of God?
So I have never been a huge, huge fan of Psalms. But now I am. I have decided that in the end, the book of Psalms is just realistic. That’s what it is. It’s people expressing their feelings and being completely honest. It’s a testimony to the power of God.
And today, I am going to talk about Psalm 78, which was written about the Ephraimites (I don’t know exactly who that is. And I even googled it. But from the rest of chapter, it sounds like they had something to do with the Israelites), but might as well be written about me. Unfortunately, this is not a positive thing. But it makes me want to be different and better. My thoughts about Psalm 78 might be kind of random and not particularly connected to each other. But hey, what is new about that? =)
I’m not going to type the whole chapter out, but I will give the verse numbers for the verses that I want to specifically talk about. So if you want to know exactly what the verses that I am talking about are saying, then you should go get your Bible right now. Don’t worry… I will wait until you’re back to get started. But you better hurry. =)
Okay. Ready? (And actually, you could have taken as long as you wanted to get your Bible. Because I had to go fold laundry right then. And then I had to eat cake. And then I thought I should really eat some ice cream too. And then I made tea. And now I am finally back. Back. My back really hurts. I think it’s from sledding yesterday. Sledding is the best fun ever. But now my back hurts. But it was totally worth it. =))
Ready I am now. (I’m talking like Yoda! Yes. Yes, I am. Okay. Time to be serious it is now. Something is wrong with me. Too much sugar consumed in a short period of time, perhaps? Happy I feel. ))
It starts out talking about how it is the duty of God’s people to tell their children what God did for them, so that they can pass it on to their children and they can pass it on to their children and they can pass it on to their children and they can…. I think you get the picture. And why is it so important for the stories of God’s love and power to be passed on?
In verse 8, it says that it is so that they would not be like their stubborn, rebellious fathers. So that their hearts are steadfast and their spirits are faithful to God. So think about your spirit being faithful to God. Is yours? Mine has a bit of work to do yet. Or a lot. Cause your spirit… that is what makes you who you are. It is, essentially, you. Everything else about you is just kind of extra. Your spirit… the most basic part of you. Is it faithful to God? If everything else about you was stripped away, would a desire to serve, love, and obey God be what was left of you? Is your spirit faithful to the One who loves you? Or does it wander all over the place, easily fascinated by many different things? A steadfast heart and a faithful spirit- I believe that God deserves and requires them. And I believe that having a steadfast heart and faithful spirit is much more satisfying than anything else. Something else that I thought was interesting about verse 8 was the use of the words “stubborn” and “steadfast”. Don’t they mean basically the same thing? And yet, stubborn has such a negative connotation, and steadfast is just kind of a reassuring word. It makes you think of something stable and strong and unchangeable. It’s just kind of a reminder to me of how important it is to believe what is true. Stubborn is when you need to make a change, or do something other than what you are doing, but you don’t want to, or you fight change every step of the way. Steadfast is being convinced of something that is true and unaffected by all the lies and opposition that may come, because it doesn’t matter who opposes you, because you know that you are right.
And then verses 18 and 19…
They thought that they knew what they needed. They demanded God to give them what they craved. It says that they “tested” God. And then it sounds like they kind of mocked God. They made their demand for food. And then they insinuated that God couldn’t actually give them what they had asked for. They taunted God. Which seems like a little bit of a dangerous thing to do. Sometimes, I think I know what I need. I think I know what I can’t live without. Sometimes I ask God for those things. But more often, I fall into the ditch on the other side of the road… where I don’t even ask God because I’m scared that He won’t answer and I won’t hear/see His answer, and then I will just feel all confused and disappointed, and so I don’t ask. I’m not really so different from them… either demanding but not believing that God can actually do what I asked, or not even bothering to ask, which is not any better. So what can I learn from these verses? Ask God for things, and believe completely that He can do them, but if I don’t understand His answer, gracefully accept that He has something better in mind. Because after all, He does know what is best.
When God heard what they were saying to Him, He got angry. It says that He was full of wrath. Why? “Because they did not believe in God and did not trust His saving power.” (verse 22). He is more than capable. Believe it. He wants you to.
God gave them what they wanted. He sent them manna. I love how it is described. It says that God opened the doors of heaven, and gave them the grain of heaven. “Man ate of the bread of the angels.” But even while God was so actively demonstrating how powerful He is, they sinned and did not believe. So God took a different approach. It says that once He killed them, they repented and sought Him earnestly.
Verse 35 says that they remembered their redeemer. But apparently, their repentance wasn’t genuine. Because it says that they were merely flattering God with their words. They were lying to God. And their hearts were not steadfast toward Him, and they were not faithful to His covenant. Verses 38 and 39 talk about God’s mercy towards them. He remembered that they were only human. It calls flesh “a wind that passes and comes not again”. So insignificant compared to an eternal God. If you are going to acknowledge God as your rock and redeemer, you should mean it. Don’t try to fool Him, because you can’t.
And a final thought about this passage: Verse 58… it says they provoked God with their high places and moved Him to jealousy with their idols, and He was full of wrath and utterly rejected Israel. He allowed the people who He had poured His love and power and grace over to be captured by their enemies. That had to hurt God. It says that He delivered his glory to the hand of the foe. One doesn’t just easily give up something that is their “glory”, their pride and joy.It says that God utterly rejected Israel. They had chosen other things over Him, and their own will over His, and had rejected Him so often, that something needed to be done. And I do that too. I have idols- things that I find more captivating than God. It’s a serious thing to love something more than you love God. God hates that. God has taken drastic measures in the past when it comes to eliminating idols or punishing people for worshiping them.
So what was the problem with Israel?
I think it might have been simply that they did not truly acknowledge and believe in God’s omnipotence. Verse 42- “They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe.” They forgot what He had done for them.
Do we possibly have the very same problem?
I think so. I mean, I can’t talk for the rest of you. But I can talk for myself. And sometimes, I do not give God the credit that He deserves. And I devote too much time and thought to other things.
The end of Psalm 78 is hopeful though. Even though God gave His people up for a time, He still had a plan for them, and it talks about how David was chosen to guide God’s people back to Him.
Yesterday, in church, a really great verse was read, and it had this amazing description of God in it. The verse was Isaiah 57: 15.
God: the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy, who dwells in the high and holy place, and with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit.
See, that is a pretty powerful God to serve.