Asaph retells the history of the Jewish nation from the time of slavery in Egypt to David’s reign. It was told from generation to generation so they would not forget God and make the same mistakes as their ancestors.
Verse 1 – Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
Verse 2 – I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,
Verse 3 – Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
Verse 4 – We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His wonderful strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
Verse 5 – For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children;
It is so important that parents teach their children about God and His Son. Where else are they going to learn it, but at home first. I’m amazed at adults who have never heard the stories of how God worked miracles and saved the Jewish people. So much can be learned about God by reading these stories to the next generation. When we see that everything points to the Messiah, then we can rest assure of a final eternity with Him.
I see a major difference in the behavior of children raised in a Christian home, then ones raised in one without knowledge of God. It’s so much easier to steer them back in the right direction when they get older,if they were taught when they were young.
Verse 6 – That the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them their children,
Verse 7 – That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments;
Reciting Israel’s early history to future generations would connect generations to the promises and instructions governing Israel’s relationship to God.
Verse 8 – And may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The goal was to educate the children so they could avoid the disasters of the previous generation. However, Israel continued throughout the ages to be disloyal to God’s covenant and mercies. They could teach them, but not make them obey.
Verse 9 – The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.
Verse 10 – They did not keep the covenant of God; they refused to walk in His law;
Ephraim was the most prominent tribe of Israel from the days of Moses to Saul’s time. The tabernacle was set up in its territory. There is no recording of Ephraim turning back from battle, so maybe this is a metaphor of Ephraim’s failure of taking a strong leadership role.
When David became king, the tribe of Judah gained prominence because of David’s faith and obedience. Perhaps that is why God chose Jerusalem in Judah to be the place for the new temple. God works through those who are faithful to Him.
Verse 11 – And forget His works and His wonders that He had shown them.
Verse 12 – Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
Verse 13 – He divided the sea and caused them to pass through; and He mad the waters stand up like a heap.
Verse 14 – In the daytime also He led them with the cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.
No matter how rebellious the Israelite’s were, God still protected them with a cloud for shade from the scorching sun and a fire that gave them light and warmth at night.
Verse 15 – He split the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink in abundance like the depths.
Verse 16 – He also brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.
In spite of their complaining to Moses, God gave them plenty of water to drink. God showed them His grace all through the wilderness.
Verse 17 – But they sinned even more against Him by rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness.
Verse 18 – And they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy.
What that ungrateful generation of Israelite’s didn’t realize was: God didn’t just rescue them from 400 years of slavery and turn them out into a wilderness and say, “Now here ya go. Live anyway you choose and don’t worry about a thing, I’ll provide everything, no matter how you treat me.” Moses knew the true meaning behind God rescuing Israel. God had chosen Israel to be His people from the time of Abraham and they were to be a nation that would lead other nations to the One true God. But that particular generation failed, so it was up to the next to lead Israel into the “Promise Land.”
Verse 19 – Yes, they spoke against God; they said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?”
Verse 20 – Behold, He struck the rock, so that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed. “Can He give bread also? Can He provide meat for His people?”
I was always amazed at how the people could doubt God for anything after seeing what He had done in Egypt while they were still captive. And then, when God parted the Red Sea for them to cross on dry land, was even more amazing. Do we not do the same thing? For one trial, we trust, and then for a little harder testing we doubt? That’s why we need to build our-self up daily in His Word.
God is a miracle-working God. Why then can we not trust Him for every crises that comes in our lives? If we doubt, we usually go without. When we believe we receive.
Verse 21 – Therefore, the Lord heard this and was furious; so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel,
Verse 22 – because they did not believe God, and did not trust in His salvation.
Verse 23 – Yet He had commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven,
Verse 24 – Had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven.
Verse 25 – Men ate angels food; He sent them food to the full.
The Israelites gave God complaints and God’s reply was “Mercy and Grace!”
I often think on; how such a merciful God could ever show me such mercy and favor that I didn’t deserve. There’s only one answer – Jesus.
This is what Asaph was trying to remind Israel of : In spite of complaining, doubting, and just plain rebellion, God kept them alive with provision in every area! The Bible says, even their shoes didn’t wear out.
Verse 26 – He caused an east wind to blow in the heavens; and by His power He brought in a south wind.
Verse 27 – He also rained meat on them like the dust, feathered fowl like the sand of the seas;
Verse 28 – And He let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their habitations.
Verse 29 – So they ate and were well filled, for He gave them their desire,
Verse 30 – They were not deprived of their craving; but while their food was still in their mouths,
Verse 31 – The wrath of God came against them, and slew the stoutest of them, and struck down the choice men of Israel (Numbers 11:1).
Verse 32 – In spite of this they still sinned, and did not believe in His wondrous works.
Verse 33 – Therefore, their days He consumed in futility, and their years in fear.
Verse 34 – When He slew them, then they sought Him; and they returned and sought diligently for God.
Verse 35 – Then they remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High God their redeemer.
What kind of people have to be told that God is All Mighty? Us and the Israelites. Why is it after we have seen God’s hand deliver us and then the next crises arises, we are in doubt again? I’ll tell you why; because we have an enemy that puts thoughts of doubt in our minds and we listen to him instead of what God has said. The enemy wants us to think that God’s Word is not true. But God wants us to know His Word so well that everything that tries to exalt itself above the name of Jesus is cast down by speaking what God says. We speak in faith what God’s Word says and it will accomplish what it set out to do.
Verse 36 – Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth, and they lied to Him with their tongue;
Verse 37 – For their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant.
Doubt is a destroyer of our confidence in God.
Verse 38 – But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath;
Verse 39 – For He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again.
Israel’s worship of the Lord was insincere and hypocritical. Their actions did not reflect their words. But God continually forgave their sin and restrained His anger. What a loving God!
Verse 40 – How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert!
Verse 41 – Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
Verse 42 – They did not remember His power; the day when He redeemed them from the enemy.
Verse 43 – When He worked His signs in Egypt, and His wonders in the field of Zoan;
Verse 44 – Tuned their rivers into blood, and their streams, that they could not drink.
Verse 45 – He sent swarms of flies among them, which devoured them, and frogs, which destroyed them.
Verse 46 – He also gave their crops to the caterpillar, and their labor to the locust.
Verse 47 – He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore trees with frost.
Verse 48 – He also gave up their cattle to the hail, and their flocks to fiery lightning.
Verse 49 – He cast on them the fierceness of His anger, wrath, indignation, and trouble, by sending angels of destruction among them.
Verse 50 – He made a path for His anger; He did not spare their soul from death, but gave their life over to the plague,
Verse 51 – And destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt, the first of their strength in the tents of Ham.
Let me ask you this; if you had been there at that time, and seen all of this done by the hand of God, would you ever have doubted that God could not do anything? We might say we wouldn’t, but…
If ever you start to doubt God’s ability to deliver you, go refresh your memory with what was written of how He deliver His people.
Verse 51 describes the first Passover, when the death angel passed over the door post that had lambs blood over it, and moved on to ones that didn’t. Then they took all the firstborn unto death.
Ham, referred to here, was Noah’s second son who was the ancestor of the Egyptians. Ham is sometimes used as a synonym for Egypt.
Verse 52 – He made His own people go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock;
Verse 53 – And He led them on safely, so that they did not fear; but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
Verse 54 – He brought them to His Holy border, this mountain which His right hand had acquired.
Verse 55 – He also drove out the nations before them, allotted them an inheritance by survey, and made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents.
The conquest and settlements of Canaan is recorded in Joshua 6-22.
Verse 56 – Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God, and did not Keep His testimonies,
Verse 57 – But turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers; they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.
Verse 58 – For they provoked Him to anger with their high places and moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.
The high places were separate sanctuaries and altars constructed for worshiping pagan gods.
Verse 59 – When god heard this He was furious, and greatly abhorred Israel,
Verse 60 – so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He had placed among men,
Shiloh was an earlier shrine in Canaan where Joshua housed the ark in a tent of meeting.
Verse 61 – and delivered His strength into captivity and His glory into the enemy’s hand.
His strength to captivity is a reference to the capture of the ark by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4-6). That ark represented God’s power and presence which often preceded the Israelites going into battle.
Verse 62 – He also gave His people over to the sword, and was furious with His inheritance (1 Samuel 4:10).
Verse 63 – The fire consumed their young men, and their maidens were not given in marriage.
Verse 64 – Their priest fell by the sword, and their widows made no lamentation.
Verse 65 – Then the Lord awoke as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man who shouts because of wine.
Verse 66 – And He beat back His enemies; He put them to a perpetual reproach.
Verse 67 – Moreover He rejected the tent of Joseph, and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, (Joseph’s son).
Verse 68 – But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved.
Ephraim’s failure to protect the ark while it was in Shiloh, caused God to reject them. The Lord’s choice became Mount Zion as His dwelling place.
Verse 69 – And He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth which He has established forever.
Verse 70 – He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds;
Verse 71 – From following the ewes that had young He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance.
Verse 72 – So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands (1 Kings 9:4).
These last verses make me think of Zechariah 4:10 – For who has despised the day of small things?…Zechariah was talking about when Zerubbabel laid the “plumb line” for the temple.
When we first start out in any endeavor, the routine of repetition seems tedious. For instance, in any calling or profession we do the same thing over and over until we reach a level of experience and perfection. How long does one study God’s Word before they begin to teach? Everything for the Kingdom has a small beginning.
David was shepherding the sheep before he became King of Israel. Gideon was plowing fields before he became a man of valor. The Bible says Moses spent 40 years on the backside of the desert before being called by God to lead Israel out of 400 years of slavery.
We ma never have our name up on a billboard, but God knows who you are; He knows whose you are; God says in 2 Corinthians 9:8, that He will supply everything we need for every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8 – and God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all-sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
We all go through testing and training periods. We keep doing what God told us first, before He moves us on to the next step. Don’t let the routine of doing the same thing over and over distract you from the bigger picture. He knows when we are ready for the next level.