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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Psalms 78



Verses 1-72

Psalm 78

Introduction- In Psalm 78 there is a clear contrast between a holy, sovereign God verses weak, mortal Prayer of Manasseh , a theme that is carried throughout the Holy Bible. This psalm is similar to the opening passages of Roman (chapters 1-3), regarding man's fallen state and God's divine power.

Psalm 78:1-2Scripture Reference- Note a similar passage in Psalm 49:1-4.

Psalm 49:1-4, (To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.) "Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world: Both low and high, rich and poor, together. My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding. I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp."

Psalm 78:1 (Maschil of Asaph.) Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

Psalm 78:1Word Study on "Maschil" - Gesenius says the Hebrew word "Maschil" ( מַשְׂכִּיל) (H 4905) is a participle meaning, "a didactic poem." Strong it means, "instructive," thus "a didactic poem," being derived from ( שָׂכַל) (H 7919), which literally means, "to be circumspect, and hence intelligent." The Enhanced Strong says it is found 13times in the Old Testament being translated in the KJV all 13times as "Maschil." It is used as a title for thirteen of the 150 psalms ( Psalm 32; Psalm 42, 44, 45, 52through 55; 74; 78; 88; 89; 142).

Most modern translations do as the KJV and transliterate this Hebrew word as "maschil," thus avoiding the possibility of a mistranslation. The LXX reads "for instruction." YLT reads "An Instruction." Although some of these psalms are didactic in nature, scholars do not feel that all fit this category. The ISBE says, "Briggs suggests ‘a meditation,' Thirtle and others ‘a psalm of instruction,' Kirkpatrick ‘a cunning psalm.'" 87]

87] John Richard Sampey, " Psalm ," in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, c 1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Psalm 78:2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:

Psalm 78:2Word Study on "parable" - The Hebrew word "parable" ( מָשָׁל) (H 4912) is also translated "proverb." It is the same word that is used in the book of Proverbs 1:6, "To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings."

Psalm 78:2Comments- Matthew quoted Psalm 78:2 in order to explain why Jesus taught in parables ( Matthew 13:34-35).

Matthew 13:34-35, "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

Psalm 78:34 When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.

Psalm 78:34Comments- God judged Israel for their sins. The psalmist has just told the story of God killing the fattest of the children of Israel in the wilderness ( Psalm 78:18-31). This is often the case when a nation begins to prosper in God's divine blessings. Our carnal-mindedness causes us to backslide during times of prosperity, and it is only when judgment falls that we return to Him.

Psalm 78:41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 78:41 — "and limited the Holy one of Israel" - Comments- When we do not yield to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we limit what God can and will do through us as vessels.

Psalm 78:41Comments- The book of Judges exposes man's weakness in following the Lord. Israel backslid, cried out to God, and He delivered them. They repented, served Him, backslid again, and He judged them. This cycle is repeated throughout the book of Judges.

Psalm 78:45 He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.

Psalm 78:45Word Study on "divers sorts of flies" - Strong says the Hebrew word "divers sorts of flies" ( עָרֹב) (H 6157) means, "swarm," and "divers sorts of flies." The phrase "of flies" is not in the original text, but is rather implied. The Enhanced Strong says this Hebrew word is found 9 times in the Old Testament being translated in the KJV as "swarm 7" in Exodus , and "divers sorts of flies 2" in Psalm.

Psalm 78:46 He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust.

Psalm 78:51 And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:

Psalm 78:51 — "the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham" - Comments- Ham was one of Noah"s three sons. Genesis 10:6 tells us that Mizraim was the son of Ham. Mizraim is the Hebrew word for "Egypt." Ham"s descendents were the ancestors of the nation of Egypt. Thus, Ham is used poetically a synonym for Egypt in Psalm 78:51.

Genesis 10:6, "And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan."

Psalm 78:60 So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;

Psalm 78:60Comments- Shiloh was the first location in Canaan that the children set up the Tabernacle. This location was where the Tabernacle stayed until King David moved the ark into Jerusalem, and until King Solomon built the Temple. Thus, the Tabernacle camped at Shiloh for a period of up to five hundred years.


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These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 78:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

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