“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching.” David appointed Asaph to the service of music. He and those who served after him composed songs, some of which are recorded in the Psalms. The story of the Lord would be told using a literary form and a human author. God would speak through men like Asaph using a “parable” or “dark sayings from of old.” He would bring forth a song for the nation to sing so that they would understand their history and their God.
Teaching through songs can be a very effective way to pass on a message to future generations. There would be things that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Lord’s covenant people would need to know if they were to avoid the deadly consequences that had come upon their ancestors when they had turned away from the Lord so long ago.
Psalm 78 focuses especially on one important period in Israel’s history. When the Lord redeemed His people out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders, He demonstrated His special love for them and His powerful vengeance against His enemies. Yet Israel so quickly forgot the Lord. As their God led them through the wilderness, they did not remember His love. As they gave in to fear, they panicked regarding their daily needs. They rejected God’s provision of manna in the desert and demanded better food. He disciplined His people and many died.
An observer of their national story might suppose that the loss of so many lives would not be so quickly forgotten. Would Israel continue to ignore the Word of the Lord? Would they miss the point of God’s saving love? The story of the book of Judges provides a definitive answer. Though they would cry out to God over and over for help against their enemies, when He gave them deliverance they would quickly forget Him and His commandments.
As the history of Israel continued, the people once again rejected the Lord’s laws concerning worship and life. Down to the days of David, Solomon, and beyond, the Lord’s discipline came upon His beloved Israel.
Despite their willful disobedience, God continued to preserve a line from the tribe of Judah that would one day lead to a final Savior. He is our Good Shepherd. By His blood, Jesus has redeemed us. How will we respond to His covenant faithfulness? We will listen to His Word. We will sing this song of Israel’s history and love the Lord and His testimonies. We will not forget that we have been saved by the blood of the Lamb. We will obey the Lord.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Almighty God, we are ready to hear Your voice in the reading and preaching of Your Word. Speak to us, Lord, that we might remember Your works, and that the next generation might grow in their faith. Centuries of wickedness have been overturned through the great redemptive work of Your Son on the cross. Look at the provision You have granted to us. You have gathered Your church. You have brought us the fulfillment of every good purpose in Your eternal decrees. You provide for us everything that we need day by day. What a kind and mighty Lord You are. In the day of Your gifts, we still sinned against You. You have surely disciplined us, for You love us. We repent of our lies and our iniquity. You have kept us according to Your loving purposes. You will continue to love us even now. What have we done, O Lord? How could we rail against You in our hearts, forgetting that Your purposes are always good? Have we forgotten what You have done in the case of Your Son? His death was for us. Surely You will give us all things. How magnificent is Your Name. We turn away from all sin and treachery. You have kept Your remnant through every trouble and misery. You have defeated the world, the flesh, and the devil. Because of Your commitment to Your Name, because of Your covenant with Your Son, You have granted us everything necessary that we might live with You in perfect blessedness forever. We thank You, O Lord.