The Psalms Book 3: 76-78

Psalm 76‑78  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 5
The first of these psalms sets forth that it is in Judah and Israel God is to be known, in Zion and in Salem, Psa. 75 having disclosed Messiah the executor of divine judgments in the earth, by which the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. It is the age to come, and characteristically different from Christianity, which calls out souls that believe by grace from the world to Christ in heaven, soon to reign with Him in glory. To be a nationalist is for the Christian beneath his heavenly calling; for the Israelites, at least such as are of a pure heart, by-and-by it will be consistent and have the sanction of God. Now it is forgetfulness of Christ's sufferings and of the glories after these. Heaven is our true father-land.
Psalm 76
“To the chief musician on Neginoth, a psalm of Asaph, a song. God [is] known in Judah, great his name in Israel; and in Salem his pavilion and his dwelling-place in Zion. There he broke the fiery shafts of the bow, the shield and the sword and the battle. Selah'. Glorious [art] thou, excellent, more than the mountains of prey. The strong of heart have been spoiled, they have slumbered their sleep; and none of the men of might have found their hands. At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both chariot and horse [are] cast into a dead sleep. Thou, terrible [art] thou; and who shall stand in thy presence when once [in] thine anger? From the heavens thou didst cause judgment to be heard; the earth feared and was still, when God rose for the judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah. For the fury of man shall praise thee; the remainder of furies wilt thou restrain [or ingird]. Vow and pray to Jehovah your God: all around him will bring a present to the fear [or him that should be feared]. He will cut off the spirit of princes, terrible to the kings of the earth” (vers. 1-13).
The second of these psalms is an inward dealing suited to that day of distress when God will have heart-searching in His ancient people before their complete deliverance. The remembrance of the past may produce anguish in the present but gives hope for the future. God's way is in the sanctuary as well as in the sea; and faith lays hold of both. For the Christian, it is the settled favor and everlasting deliverance in Christ, dead, risen, and ascended, that we rest on. But the Israelite, if he looks on His way in the sanctuary, enjoys the wonders of His arm; if he turn as a man to His way in the sea, he has to acknowledge that His footsteps are not known.
Psalm 77
To the chief musician, on Jeduthun, a psalm of Asaph. My voice is unto God, and will cry; my voice [is] unto God, and he will give ear to me. In the day of my distress I sought the Lord (Adonai); my hand was stretched out in the night and slacked not; my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God and was disquieted; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou holdest mine eyes watching, I am troubled and cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I commune with mine own heart, and my spirit maketh diligent search, Will the Lord (A.) cast off forever? and will he be favorable no more? Hath his mercy failed forever? hath [his] word come to an end from generation to generation? hath God forgotten to be gracious? or hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah. And I said, This is mine infirmity: the years of the right hand of the Most High, the deeds of Jah I will remember; for I will remember thy wonders of old. And I will meditate on all thy work and muse on thy doings. O God, in the sanctuary [is] thy way: who [is] a great God like God? Thou [art] the God (El) working wonders; Thou, hast made known among the peoples thy strength. Thou hast with [thine] arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they trembled, yea, the depths were troubled. The thick clouds poured out waters; the skies sent out a voice, yea, thine arrows went abroad. The voice of thy thunder [was] in the whirlwind (or circuit); the lightnings lightened the world; the earth trembled and shook. In the sea [is] thy way, and thy paths in the great waters, and thy footsteps were not known. Thou hast led, as the sheep, thy people by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (vers. 1-21).
The last of these three is alike full, beautiful, and important. It sets out the total failure of Israel under governmental dealings. Law, no matter what the long-suffering goodness that accompanies it, can only issue in the ruin of sinful man. Sovereign grace alone avails. The testimony Jehovah raised in Jacob was excellent, the law He set in Israel holy and good; but what could either avail, the people being what they were? “As many as are of works of law are under curse.” Gal. 3. It is but a ministry of death and condemnation. Real and stable blessing turns on God and His grace. Do what He would in nature or law, Israel brought Him but shame and misery on themselves. Then did He choose Judah, Zion, and David, the pledge and security of ultimate blessing and triumph, when the children shall indeed learn to profit by their fathers' failure, the final and everlasting passage from flesh and law to the true Beloved and the grace that brings salvation.
Psalm 78
“An instruction of Asaph. Give ear, my people, to my law; incline your ear to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter dark sayings from of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide [them] from their sons, telling the generations to come the praises of Jehovah, and his strength, and his wondrous works which he wrought. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to make them known to their sons, that the generation to come might know, sons to be born, who should rise up and tell their sons, and they might set their hope in God, and not forget the deeds of God (El), and keep his commandments; and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set (prepared) not their hearts, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God (El). The sons of Ephraim, armed bowmen, turned in the day of battle. They kept not God's covenant and in his law refused to walk; and they forgot his deeds and his wondrous works which he caused them to see. In the sight of their fathers he wrought wonders in the land of Egypt, the field of Zoan. He clave the sea and caused them to pass through and made the waters to stand as a heap; and he led them with a cloud by day and all the night with light of fire. He clave rocks in the wilderness and gave drink as the depths abundantly, He brought streams from the rock (crag) and caused waters to come down like the rivers. Yet they still went on to sin against him, to rebel against the Most High in the desert (dry); and they tempted God in their hearts by asking food for their lust (souls). And they spoke against God; they said, Shall God be able to furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, and waters gushed out, and streams overflowed; can he give bread also, or provide flesh for his people? Therefore Jehovah heard and was wroth; and fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also went up against Israel; because they believed not in God and trusted not in his salvation. Yet he commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven, and he rained upon them manna to eat, and had given them the corn of the heavens. Man did eat the food of the mighty; he sent them provision to the full. He led forth the east [wind] in the heavens, and by his strength guided the south [wind], and he rained flesh upon them as dust and winged fowl as sand of the sea, and let it fall in the midst of the camp round about their habitations. And they did eat and were well filled. He brought to them their desire. They were not estranged from their desire; their food [was] yet in their mouths, when God's anger went up against them and slew their fattest and smote down the chosen of Israel. For all this they sinned still and believed not in his wondrous works; he consumed their days in vanity, and their years in terror. When he slew them, then they inquired after him, and turned and sought God (El) eagerly. And they remembered that God [was] their rock, and God Most High their redeemer. And they flattered (enticed) him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue. And their heart [was] not firm with him, nor were they steadfast in his covenant. But he mercifully forgave iniquity, and destroyed not, and often withdrew his anger and could not arouse all his wrath; and he remembered that they [were] flesh, a wind passing and not coming again. How oft did they rebel against him in the wilderness and grieve him in the desert? And they turned again and tempted God (El) and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, the day when he delivered them from oppression, he who set his signs in Egypt and his wonders in the field of Zoan, and turned their rivers to blood, and their streams that they could not drink. He sent among them dog flies, and they devour them; and frogs, and they destroy them. And he gave their increase to the caterpillar, and their labor to the locust. He killed their vines with the hail, and their sycamore trees with the frost, and delivered their cattle to the hail and their flocks to the lightnings. He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and distress, by sending angels of woes. He made a path for his anger, he withheld their soul from death, and their life he gave over to the pestilence; and he smote every first-born in Egypt, the first fruits of vigor in the tents of Ham. And he made his people go as the sheep, and guided them as the flock in the wilderness; and he led them safely, and they feared not; and the sea covered their enemies. And he brought them to the border of his holiness, this mountain His right hand purchased, and drove out before them nations, and allotted them by a line for an inheritance, and caused the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents. But they tempted and resisted God Most High, and kept not his testimonies, and revolted, and dealt treacherously like their fathers; they were turned like a deceitful bow. And they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images. God heard and was wroth and greatly abhorred Israel; and he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, his tent he pitched among men, and gave his strength into captivity, and his beauty into the oppressor's hand. And he gave over to the sword his people, and was wroth with his inheritance. The fire consumed their chosen, and their maidens were not praised in song; their priests fell by the sword, and their widows wept not. And the Lord (Adonai) awoke as a sleeper, as a mighty man shouting aloud from wine; and he smote his adversaries backward and put them to everlasting reproach. And he rejected the tent of Joseph, and the tribe of Ephraim did not choose; and he chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which. he loved. And he built his sanctuary like high [places], like the earth he founded forever. And he chose David his servant, and took him from the sheepfold; from behind suckling Lewes] he brought him to feed Jacob his people and Israel his inheritance. And he fed them according to the integrity of his heart, and in the skill of his hands he led them” (vers. 1-72).