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Bible Commentaries

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Psalms 78



Verses 1-72

Psalm 78:1-72

Psalm 78:1-72 is a psalm that rehearses the history of God"s people. And the psalm was written in order to remind the children, the coming generation, of the works of the Lord. One of the important obligations that we have is that we not see a move of God and then see it die with the passing generation. But unfortunately, rarely does a work of God continue into a second generation. Unfortunately, we begin to get our eyes upon the things that God has done, upon the great monuments. And it turns into a monument rather than keeping our eyes upon God who is doing the work to begin with. And it"s always a tragedy when the work of God turns into a memorial. Somehow we need to communicate to our children that glorious work and consciousness of God so it goes on and on and on. And the children of Israel sought to do this, but they failed. And so many times you find that from one generation to the next the work of God was forgotten. Case of Hezekiah, followed by Manasseh, his son. Hezekiah, marvelous, righteous king; Manasseh, an evil, wicked king. Somehow his father did not relate well to Manasseh his faith, his trust, his confidence in God. So,

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from the children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works which he has done. 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 [passing it on to the children]: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; whom would arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments ( Psalm 78:1-7 ):

So the transmission of truth from generation to generation.

And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God. The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle ( Psalm 78:8-9 ).

They did not stand up against the enemy; they retreated.

They kept not the covenant of God, they refused to walk in his law ( Psalm 78:10 );

That is why they turned back in battle.

And they forgot his works, and his wonders that he had showed them ( Psalm 78:11 ).

The forgetfulness.

Marvelous things he did in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. He divided the sea, caused them to pass through; made the waters stand up as a heap. In the daytime he led them by the cloud, and night with a light of fire. He broke the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink out of the great depths. He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run like rivers. And yet they sinned 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, the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh to his people? Therefore the LORD heard this, he was angry: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, anger came up against Israel; because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation ( Psalm 78:12-22 ):

God"s anger because of unbelief. The Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God.

Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, he rained down manna upon them to eat, he had given them the corn of heaven. Man did eat angles" food: he sent them meat to their full. He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought the south wind. He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like the sand of the sea: And he let it fall in the middle of their camp, round about their houses. So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; But they were not estranged from their lust ( Psalm 78:23-30 ):

Even though they were filled, they were still filled with lust. In other words, you lust, but lust cannot really be satisfied. And though they were filled, still they were hungry.

but while their meat was in their mouths, [the anger] the wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel. For all of this they continued to sin, and believed not his wondrous works. Therefore their days were spent in emptiness, their years in trouble. And when he slew them, they sought him: and returned and inquired 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, but they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, and neither were they steadfast in his covenant ( Psalm 78:30-37 ).

How many times people are doing the same thing, lying to God. Flattering with their mouth, but their hearts are really far from God.

But being full of compassion, he forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time he turned his anger away, and did not stir up all of his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh ( Psalm 78:38-39 );

Thank God for the mercies wherewith He deals with us and He remembers that we are but flesh. Now sometimes we think we are supermen. We think we are a rock of Gibraltar. We think were so strong; we"re so powerful. "I am so strong I can stand against... " Oh, how I cringe when I see some of these young Christians. They come up and they say, I really want to go out and I serve God in a mission field." "Well, how long have you been a Christian?" "Two months now. I feel God is calling me to a mission field. I am ready to conquer the world." You feel so strong, but God knows you are just dust. And it"s good when we find out that we are just dust too, and we trust not in the arm of our flesh, but we learn to trust the Lord completely.

God remembers that they were but flesh.

a wind that passes away, and comes not again ( Psalm 78:39 ).

People have always asked, "What scripture can you give me against reincarnation?" Well, here is one. You might mark it. Your life is spoken of as a wind that passes away and comes not again. That"s talking about your breath of life. It is something that is gonna pass, but it won"t come again. So you are not going to come back. But who in the world would want to? When I read the predictions for the year2000 , I don"t want to be around. To come back again and have to go through this. Under the conditions that will exist in the year2000 , or even the year2020 is even going to be worse. No thanks!


How often they provoked him in the wilderness and they grieved him in the desert! Yes, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel ( Psalm 78:40-41 ).

Here is a very interesting verse, and that is that God can be limited by the unbelief of people. When Jesus was in Nazareth, it said, "He did not many works there because of their unbelief." Your unbelief can actually limit the work that God is wanting to do in your life. The children of Israel put limitations on God, and man today is often putting limitations on God.

One of the limitations that we so often place upon God are dispensational limitations. The dispensation of the apostles, you know. The dispensation of the Holy Spirit. It all ended with the apostles. God doesn"t work anymore. God doesn"t heal anymore. God doesn"t work miracles anymore. The gifts of the Spirit are not in operation anymore. They all ceased with the apostles. And we put limits on God, not because God won"t, not because God doesn"t want to, but because of our unbelief, our failing to believe God to do it now. And it is still possible for us to be putting limitations on the work that God wants to do in our lives.

When I come to God, I say, "God, help me to be totally open to anything and everything You want to do in my life." I don"t want to put any restraints on that which God is wanting to do in or through me. By presuppositions, by my own cultural upbringing, by the things that have been planted in my mind by the past, by my education, or anything else. I don"t want anything there that would restrict or limit that which God wants to do. They limited the Holy One of Israel by their unbelief.

They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy: He wrought the signs in Egypt, and turned the rivers into blood; and the floods, that they couldn"t drink. He sent the flies and the frogs. And gave the increase of their fields to the caterpillar, and to the locust. And destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore trees with frost. And gave their cattle also to the hail, and the flocks to the hot thunderbolts. He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, and wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them ( Psalm 78:42-49 ).

No doubt reference to the slaying of the firstborn.

He made way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to pestilence; and smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength the tabernacles of Ham: but he made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. He led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. And brought them to the border of the sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased. And cast the heathen also before them, divided them the inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents. And yet they tempted and provoked the most high, and did not keep his testimonies: But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they provoked him to anger by building the places of false worship, they moved him to jealousy with their graven images. When God heard this, he was angry, and abhorred Israel: So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he had placed among men ( Psalm 78:50-60 );

The tabernacle, of course, originally was in the area of Shiloh, which was in the portion that was given to the tribe of Ephraim.

He delivered his strength into captivity, his glory into the enemy"s hand. He gave his people over to the sword; and was angry with his inheritance. Fire consumed their young men; the maidens were not given to marriage. Their priests fell by the sword; the 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 then to perpetual reproach. Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim ( Psalm 78:61-67 ):

When God chose then a leader, he refused to take the tribe of Ephraim, or of Joseph, which would have also been Manasseh.

But he chose the tribe of Judah, [and rather than Shiloh] Mount Zion which he loved. And there he built his sanctuary like the high places, like the earth which he 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 skillfulness of his hands ( Psalm 78:68-72 ).

A beautiful rehearsal of their history to remind them of the work of God in their past. "


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.

Bibliography Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 78:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

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