April 25, Psalm 73, 77-78

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Psalm 73

God’s Ways Vindicated

A psalm of Asaph.

God is indeed good to Israel,
to the pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet almost slipped;
my steps nearly went astray.
For I envied the arrogant;
I saw the prosperity of the wicked.They have an easy time until they die,[a]
and their bodies are well fed.[b]
They are not in trouble like others;
they are not afflicted like most people.
Therefore, pride is their necklace,
and violence covers them like a garment.
Their eyes bulge out from fatness;
the imaginations of their hearts run wild.
They mock, and they speak maliciously;
they arrogantly threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against heaven,
and their tongues strut across the earth.
10 Therefore his people turn to them[c]
and drink in their overflowing words.[d]
11 The wicked say, “How can God know?
Does the Most High know everything?”
12 Look at them—the wicked!
They are always at ease,
and they increase their wealth.13 Did I purify my heart
and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?
14 For I am afflicted all day long
and punished every morning.
15 If I had decided to say these things aloud,
I would have betrayed your people.[e]
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it seemed hopeless[f]
17 until I entered God’s sanctuary.
Then I understood their destiny.
18 Indeed, you put them in slippery places;
you make them fall into ruin.
19 How suddenly they become a desolation!
They come to an end, swept away by terrors.
20 Like one waking from a dream,
Lord, when arising, you will despise their image.21 When I became embittered
and my innermost being[g] was wounded,
22 I was stupid and didn’t understand;
I was an unthinking animal toward you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me up in glory.[h]
25 Who do I have in heaven but you?
And I desire nothing on earth but you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength[i] of my heart,
my portion forever.
27 Those far from you will certainly perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
so I can tell about all you do.

Psalm 77

I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
I sought the Lord in my day of trouble.
My hands were continually lifted up
all night long;
I refused to be comforted.
I think of God; I groan;
I meditate; my spirit becomes weak.SelahYou have kept me from closing my eyes;
I am troubled and cannot speak.
I consider days of old,
years long past.
At night I remember my music;
I meditate in my heart, and my spirit ponders.“Will the Lord reject forever
and never again show favor?
Has his faithful love ceased forever?
Is his promise at an end for all generations?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Selah10 So I say, “I am grieved
that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”[a]
11 I will remember the Lord’s works;
yes, I will remember your ancient wonders.
12 I will reflect on all you have done
and meditate on your actions.13 God, your way is holy.
What god is great like God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
you revealed your strength among the peoples.
15 With power you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.Selah16 The water saw you, God.
The water saw you; it trembled.
Even the depths shook.
17 The clouds poured down water.
The storm clouds thundered;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 The sound of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
lightning lit up the world.
The earth shook and quaked.
19 Your way went through the sea
and your path through the vast water,
but your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 78

Lessons from Israel’s Past

Maskil of Asaph.

My people, hear my instruction;
listen to the words from my mouth.
I will declare wise sayings;
I will speak mysteries from the past—
things we have heard and known
and that our ancestors have passed down to us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but will tell a future generation
the praiseworthy acts of the Lord,
his might, and the wondrous works
he has performed.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and set up a law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach to their children
so that a future generation—
children yet to be born—might know.
They were to rise and tell their children
so that they might put their confidence in God
and not forget God’s works,
but keep his commands.
Then they would not be like their ancestors,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not loyal
and whose spirit was not faithful to God.The Ephraimite archers turned back
on the day of battle.
10 They did not keep God’s covenant
and refused to live by his law.
11 They forgot what he had done,
the wondrous works he had shown them.
12 He worked wonders in the sight of their ancestors
in the land of Egypt, the territory of Zoan.
13 He split the sea and brought them across;
the water stood firm like a wall.
14 He led them with a cloud by day
and with a fiery light throughout the night.
15 He split rocks in the wilderness
and gave them drink as abundant as the depths.
16 He brought streams out of the stone
and made water flow down like rivers.17 But they continued to sin against him,
rebelling in the desert against the Most High.
18 They deliberately[b] tested God,
demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God, saying,
“Is God able to provide food in the wilderness?
20 Look! He struck the rock and water gushed out;
torrents overflowed.
But can he also provide bread
or furnish meat for his people?”
21 Therefore, the Lord heard and became furious;
then fire broke out against Jacob,
and anger flared up against Israel
22 because they did not believe God
or rely on his salvation.
23 He gave a command to the clouds above
and opened the doors of heaven.
24 He rained manna for them to eat;
he gave them grain from heaven.
25 People[c] ate the bread of angels.[d]
He sent them an abundant supply of food.
26 He made the east wind blow in the skies
and drove the south wind by his might.
27 He rained meat on them like dust,
and winged birds like the sand of the seas.
28 He made them fall in the camp,
all around the tents.
29 The people ate and were completely satisfied,
for he gave them what they craved.
30 Before they had turned from what they craved,
while the food was still in their mouths,
31 God’s anger flared up against them,
and he killed some of their best men.
He struck down Israel’s fit young men.32 Despite all this, they kept sinning
and did not believe his wondrous works.
33 He made their days end in futility,
their years in sudden disaster.
34 When he killed some of them,
the rest began to seek him;
they repented and searched for God.
35 They remembered that God was their rock,
the Most High God, their Redeemer.
36 But they deceived him with their mouths,
they lied to him with their tongues,
37 their hearts were insincere toward him,
and they were unfaithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he was compassionate;
he atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them.
He often turned his anger aside
and did not unleash[e] all his wrath.
39 He remembered that they were only flesh,
a wind that passes and does not return.40 How often they rebelled against him
in the wilderness
and grieved him in the desert.
41 They constantly tested God
and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power shown
on the day he redeemed them from the foe,
43 when he performed his miraculous signs in Egypt
and his wonders in the territory of Zoan.
44 He turned their rivers into blood,
and they could not drink from their streams.
45 He sent among them swarms of flies,
which fed on them,
and frogs, which devastated them.
46 He gave their crops to the caterpillar
and the fruit of their labor to the locust.
47 He killed their vines with hail
and their sycamore fig trees with a flood.
48 He handed over their livestock to hail
and their cattle to lightning bolts.
49 He sent his burning anger against them:
fury, indignation, and calamity—
a band of deadly messengers.[f]
50 He cleared a path for his anger.
He did not spare them from death
but delivered their lives to the plague.
51 He struck all the firstborn in Egypt,
the first progeny of the tents of Ham.
52 He led his people out like sheep
and guided them like a flock in the wilderness.
53 He led them safely, and they were not afraid;
but the sea covered their enemies.
54 He brought them to his holy territory,
to the mountain his right hand acquired.
55 He drove out nations before them.
He apportioned their inheritance by lot
and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.56 But they rebelliously tested the Most High God,
for they did not keep his decrees.
57 They treacherously turned away like their ancestors;
they became warped like a faulty bow.
58 They enraged him with their high places
and provoked his jealousy with their carved images.
59 God heard and became furious;
he completely rejected Israel.
60 He abandoned the tabernacle at Shiloh,
the tent where he resided among mankind.
61 He gave up his strength to captivity
and his splendor to the hand of a foe.
62 He surrendered his people to the sword
because he was enraged with his heritage.
63 Fire consumed his chosen young men,
and his young women had no wedding songs.[g]
64 His priests fell by the sword,
and the widows could not lament.65 The Lord awoke as if from sleep,
like a warrior from the effects of wine.
66 He beat back his foes;
he gave them lasting disgrace.
67 He rejected the tent of Joseph
and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim.
68 He chose instead the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loved.
69 He built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth that he established forever.
70 He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
71 he brought him from tending ewes
to be shepherd over his people Jacob—
over Israel, his inheritance.
72 He shepherded them with a pure heart
and guided them with his skillful hands.

As we read scripture there are always those scriptures that need extra attention and must be put into context. Ps 78:34 is one of those verses. 

Ps 78:34 “When he killed some of them, the rest began to seek him; they repented and searched for God.” 

When we read the entirety of Psalm 78 we find that time and again God has provided for the Israelites on their journey from bondage in Egypt. Yet the Israelites continually rejected Him. If God is an imaginary figment of our imagination then we would say that many unfortunate events happened to the ancient Israelites. Also that the ancient Israelites achieved all of their victories and freedom in their own strength. But if God is real and who He says that He is, then being in right standing with Him – your maker – is of the highest importance. Or in other words how far should God go to change the hearts of man? And to be more personal, how is God justified in saving your own soul by the death of His son? These are tough questions this morning but remember God is a loving God willing that none should perish. In case you are wondering, the verses below should give us balance to Ps 78:34: 

Ezekiel 18:32 For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “So repent and live!

Ezekiel 33:11 Tell them, ‘As I live—this is the declaration of the Lord God—I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of your evil ways! Why will you die, house of Israel?’

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

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