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PSALM 78 - Recount the Stories 19 Jan 2020

It shall be clear to the reader that the psalmist knows a lot more about God's great deeds than I do.

Verse 2-3

What we have heard and know,
what our ancestors have told us
4 we shall not conceal from their descendants,
but will tell to a generation still to come:
the praises of Yahweh, his power,
the wonderful deeds he has done.

Psalm 78

1 [Psalm Of Asaph]
My people, listen to my teaching,
pay attention to what I say.
2 I will speak to you in poetry,
unfold the mysteries of the past.
3 What we have heard and know,
what our ancestors have told us
4 we shall not conceal from their descendants,
but will tell to a generation still to come:
the praises of Yahweh, his power,
the wonderful deeds he has done.
5 He instituted a witness in Jacob,
he established a law in Israel,
he commanded our ancestors to hand it down to their descendants,
6 that a generation still to come might know it, children yet to be born.
They should be sure to tell their own children,
7 and should put their trust in God,
never forgetting God's great deeds,
always keeping his commands,
8 and not, like their ancestors,
be a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation weak of purpose,
their spirit fickle towards God.
9 The archer sons of Ephraim turned tail when the time came for fighting;
10 they failed to keep God's covenant,
they refused to follow his Law;
11 they had forgotten his great deeds,
the marvels he had shown them;
12 he did marvels in the sight of their ancestors in Egypt,
in the plains of Tanis.
13 He split the sea and brought them through,
made the waters stand up like a dam;
14 he led them with a cloud by day,
and all the night with the light of a fire;
15 he split rocks in the desert,
let them drink as though from the limitless depths;
16 he brought forth streams from a rock,
made waters flow down in torrents.
17 But they only sinned against him more than ever,
defying the Most High in barren country;
18 they deliberately challenged God by demanding food to their hearts' content.
19 They insulted God by saying,
'Can God make a banquet in the desert?
20 True, when he struck the rock,
waters gushed out and flowed in torrents;
but what of bread? Can he give that,
can he provide meat for his people?'
21 When he heard them Yahweh vented his anger,
fire blazed against Jacob, his anger mounted against Israel,
22 because they had no faith in God,
no trust in his power to save.
23 Even so he gave orders to the skies above,
he opened the sluice-gates of heaven;
24 he rained down manna to feed them,
he gave them the wheat of heaven;
25 mere mortals ate the bread of the Mighty,
he sent them as much food as they could want.
26 He roused an east wind in the heavens,
despatched a south wind by his strength;
27 he rained down meat on them like dust,
birds thick as sand on the seashore,
28 tumbling into the middle of his camp,
all around his dwelling-place.
29 They ate as much food as they wanted,
he satisfied all their cravings;
30 but their cravings were still upon them,
the food was still in their mouths,
31 when the wrath of God attacked them,
slaughtering their strongest men, laying low the flower of Israel.
32 Despite all this, they went on sinning,
they put no faith in his marvels.
33 He made their days vanish in mist,
their years in sudden ruin.
34 Whenever he slaughtered them,
they began to seek him,
they turned back and looked eagerly for him,
35 recalling that God was their rock,
God the Most High, their redeemer.
36 They tried to hoodwink him with their mouths,
their tongues were deceitful towards him;
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 But in his compassion
he forgave their guilt instead of killing them,
time and again repressing his anger instead of rousing his full wrath,
39 remembering they were creatures of flesh,
a breath of wind that passes, never to return.
40 How often they defied him in the desert!
How often they grieved him in the wastelands!
41 Repeatedly they challenged God,
provoking the Holy One of Israel,
42 not remembering his hand,
the time when he saved them from the oppressor,
43 he who did his signs in Egypt,
his miracles in the plains of Tanis,
44 turning their rivers to blood,
their streams so that they had nothing to drink.
45 He sent horseflies to eat them up,
and frogs to devastate them,
46 consigning their crops to the caterpillar,
the fruit of their hard work to the locust;
47 he killed their vines with hail,
their sycamore trees with frost,
48 delivering up their cattle to hail,
and their flocks to thunderbolts.
49 He loosed against them the full heat of his anger,
fury, rage and destruction, a detachment of destroying angels;
50 he gave free course to his anger.
He did not exempt their own selves from death,
delivering up their lives to the plague.
51 He struck all the first-born in Egypt,
the flower of the youth in the tents of Ham.
52 He brought out his people like sheep,
guiding them like a flock in the desert,
53 leading them safe and unafraid,
while the sea engulfed their enemies.
54 He brought them to his holy land,
the hill-country won by his right hand;
55 he dispossessed nations before them,
measured out a heritage for each of them,
and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.
56 But still they challenged the Most High God and defied him,
refusing to keep his decrees;
57 as perverse and treacherous as their ancestors,
they gave way like a faulty bow,
58 provoking him with their high places,
rousing his jealousy with their idols.
59 God listened and vented his wrath,
he totally rejected Israel;
60 he forsook his dwelling in Shiloh,
the tent where he used to dwell on the earth.
61 He abandoned his power to captivity,
his splendour to the enemy's clutches;
62 he gave up his people to the sword,
he vented his wrath on his own heritage.
63 Fire devoured their young men,
their young girls had no wedding-song;
64 their priests fell by the sword
and their widows sang no dirge.
65 The Lord arose as though he had been asleep,
like a strong man fighting-mad with wine,
66 he struck his enemies on the rump,
and put them to everlasting shame.
67 Rejecting the tents of Joseph,
passing over the tribe of Ephraim,
68 he chose the tribe of Judah,
his well-loved mountain of Zion;
69 he built his sanctuary like high hills,
like the earth set it firm for ever.
70 He chose David to be his servant,
took him from the sheepfold,
71 took him from tending ewes to pasture his servant Jacob,
and Israel his heritage.
72 He pastured them with unblemished heart,
with a sensitive hand he led them.

Excerpt from THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright (c) 1985 by
Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division
of Penguin Random House, Inc. Reprinted by Permission.

Recounting the Story

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