Psalms 78:9



Psalms 78 is a Psalms which gives a detailed account of the history of the nation of Israel from the time they were freed from being slaves in Egypt up until the time of King David. And basically the point of these verses is to show How Israel failed, how Israel sinned over and over and over and how God was patient and merciful and forgiving to them.

Of course the thing to remember is that this is the Old Testament time period we are reading about here. The children of Israel lived under the law. God did things differently in the age of the law than in the age of grace.  The law is harsh and the consequences for breaking the law are very serious. This does not mean that God is not kind or merciful or forgiving. But it is important to understand the difference between law and grace and why God did things the way that He did in those days.

We certainly can both be reminded of the harshness of the law and the consequences for breaking the law. After reading the rest of this Psalms 78 I will point out several important points that are made in these verses.

Psalms 78:9-72 says, “The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them. Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap. In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire. He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people? Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation: Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full. He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind. He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea: And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations. So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel. For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works. Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble. When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God. And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan: And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink. He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them. He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust. He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost. He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts. He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence; And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham: But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased. He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents. Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow. For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images. When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel:

So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand. He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance. The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage. Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation. Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine. And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach. Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim: But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved. And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever. He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.”

         The sins and the failures of Israel were great and they were many. These are some of the phrases used to describe the sins and failure of Israel, “they forgat his works, they flattered and lied unto God, they provoked God, grieved God, tempted, moved God to jealousy with their idolatry and they believed not in God nor trusted in His salvation.”

         Of all the sins that Israel committed which do you think was Israel’s worst sin? I’ll tell you which one was their worst sin that they trusted not in His salvation. Of course all sin grieves God and all sin makes God angry because God is holy. But nothing angers God more than those that reject His message of salvation.

         Jesus said in Luke 12:10, And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.”

         It seems very logical to say that if you refuse to accept God’s forgiveness then obviously you are not forgiven. When the Holy Spirit comes to a person and shows them the truth about Jesus Christ and their need to repent of their sins and that person rejects the truth then that person is still lost in their sins and in danger of facing the wrath of God. It is possible that God will come to them again at some point in their life. But the point is how can you be forgiven if you do not repent? If you reject the righteousness of Christ if you reject the free gift of God’s mercy and grace through the blood of Jesus Christ then you are committing the worst sin a person can possibly commit.

         Why do people end up in hell? Do they end up in hell because of their murders? Their lies? Their fornications? Their thefts? Their covetousness? No they end up in hell because they reject the gospel of Jesus Christ.

         After talking about all the horrible failures of the Israelites Psalms tells us how God responded when it says, in Psalms 78:38, “But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.”

         Of course there are consequences to sin. You reap what you sow. It is like gravity. What goes up must come down. Or it like throwing a ball at a wall it will bounce back at you. Sin is destructive. It will harm you mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. God uses the consequences of sin to get people to repent of their sins and turn to Him.

         The Israelites lived in the age of the law. And some of the consequences of sin were very harsh. Sometimes it takes great suffering and destruction to get the heart hearts of people to soften and repent and turn back to Jesus.

         Just because a person sufferings from the consequences of their sinful actions just because a person reaps what they sow does not mean that God is not merciful or forgiving. God is full of compassion God does always forgive those who turn to Him. But you had better remember to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  And this is very true when it comes to sinful actions.  

         When you do sin the best thing you can do is to be quick to repent of your sins to Jesus. 1 John 1:9, “if we confess our sins  He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

         Psalms 79:1-13, “A Psalm of Asaph. O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps. The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth. Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them. We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us. How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire? Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name. For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place. O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die; And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord. So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.”


         There were certainly times in the Old Testament when Israel did not have victory over her enemies. Why did this happen? This happened because of sin. God uses nations to judge other nations. He will raise up a nation to cast to cast down another one. This is the reason Israel is in the situation it is in today because of their great wickedness. God had plans for the nation of Israel that they would be the greatest nation on Earth. That they would be the ones to give out God’s Word to the rest of the world. Of course they eagerly turned away from God and there came a point when God said enough was enough and He judged them for it. If you read the books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel you will see how God used the kingdom of Babylon to judge them.

         Since that time Israel has been trodden down and dominated by the other nations of the earth. Even today Israel possesses only a fraction of the land God intended for them. Of course God still has a great plan for Israel. God has not forgotten the promises that He made to Abraham. God keeps His promises and God knows just how to work in their hearts to keep them to turn to His Jesus. It will happen one day.

         The thing about Israel is that even today God is still using them. God is using them as a great illustration of salvation. Once you turn to Jesus for salvation you belong to God and God is a jealous God. He will not let you go. Even if you decide to turn away from God, to eagerly run headlong into sin the way the Israelites did you cannot lose your salvation. God will chastise you but He will not give you up because you are His you are bought with the price of the blood of Jesus.

         This is the great example that Israel has been serving to the world for the past several thousand years since the time they turned away from God and refused to repent. God has not destroyed them entirely but is chastising them and one day they will repent and turn to Jesus. It is going to take a great destruction and it is going to take 7 years of great tribulation and all the armies of the earth coming against them but when that happens they will at last turn to Jesus and look to Him for salvation.

         It honestly doesn’t get more stubborn than that. Despite the way Israel has rejected Jesus what an example God has made of them what a testimony to the faithfulness of God to keep His promises, what an example to the eternal security of the believer in Jesus.

         Psalms 80:1-3, “To the chief Musician upon Shoshannimeduth, A Psalm of Asaph. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.”

         God has many names and one of the names given of God here is Shepherd of Israel. It is very interesting to see one of the names of God so closely connected to the name of Israel. There are actually several names of God in the Old Testament which are closely associated with the name of Israel including the names: the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel, thy redeemer the Holy one of Israel, and the redeemer of Israel.

         This shows how closely God associates Himself with the nation of Israel. No other nation in the world has their name as part of God’s name. God loves Israel. And God has a great and wonderful plan for Israel in the future a plan which involved them turning to Jesus from their sins.

         The name Shepherd of Israel is very similar to one of the names Jesus called Himself in the New Testament when He said in John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” In the New Testament Jesus is also called the great shepherd, the chief shepherd, and the shepherd and bishop of your souls.

         A good shepherd is one that guides his flock, feeds his flock, and protects his flock. Jesus does all these things for those that trust in Him. If you do not know Jesus then you can turn to Him today and He will save you from your sins.


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