Psalms Chapter 78: Are your people repeating history, Lord? PART 1 Verses 1-16

Psalms Chapter 78: PART 1 Verses 1-31 (Unless otherwise cited the scriptures in this devotional are from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. It is not chosen for is veracity, but only because it is a public domain version of scripture.)


Psalm 78 is one of the longest psalms in the Bible. It is also one of the most exciting psalms in the book. The opening verse introduces the chapter after the tradition of wisdom literature.  On the other hand, most of the poem is about historical material. One could categorize this psalm as a redemptive-historical/remembrance psalm that is influenced by the prose of wisdom literature.

The two historical traditions are presented for two main reasons.

      1. First, to instruct its hearers to obedience to YHWH. Ephraim/Israel  [the northern kingdom] was disobedient to God and ended up rejecting him. Today Christians can learn from their negative example and obey God.
      2. Secondly, the culminating verse explains why the northern kingdom is rejected and celebrates the choice of David and his descendants, who were obedient to God. It also explains why God placed his presence in the southern kingdom. (Longman, Tremper, III. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary, InterVarsity Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, Created from liberty on 2020-01-22 07:12:46.)

Listen to this parable: Verses 1-8 David instructs the children of Israel


The psalmist begins this chapter by imploring the audience to listen to his parable/riddle ( another name for a parable is “māšāl”; which can also be translated ‘proverb’). The exhortation to listen is noted in  (v. 1; see Prov. 1:8; 4:1; 5:1, etc.), The phrase is used is the wisdom literature series in the Bible. The object of this psalm/parable is to teach the future generations not to make the same mistake that the previous generation made.  Today, we, as Christians, use the word of God and past historical events in Christianity to teach our children and present congregations to learn from church history. We should not be repeating the same mistakes that the church has made in the past.  When we begin to make the same mistakes, it is because we have forgotten the past actions that lead to those mistakes.  It is 2020, and we are slowly gravitating back to a time in history where humanity was at its worst.  We know that scripture dictates that the end times will be the worse time in the history of humankind.  We, the people of today, seem to have forgotten that historical markers that remind us of your provision. So what can we do? Learn from the ancient past and stay focused on God’s plan for our lives.

Actions of the men of Ephraim

verses 9 to 16

Ephraim was a dominant tribe in the northern area of Israel at the time of the writing of this psalm. In this psalm, it stands for the entire northern part of Israel. The psalmist may be referring to a battle in Israel’s history when the Philistines defeated the army of Israel and took the ark from Shiloh, a city in Ephraim (1 Sam. 4 – 6). It is also possible that the psalmist could be referring to Saul, the first king of Israel, who was fatally wounded by the Philistines (1 Sam. 31). Lastly,  it could be referring to the defeat of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 722 bc (2 Kgs 17). The exact battle is not essential for the central message of the section in the psalm. That message exposes the northern kingdom’s failure to be obedient to YHWH. 

What happened to the men of Ephraim? They forgot God’s great acts of protection and deliverance at the time of the Exodus. Not once did the nation have to retreat in battle. Israel had absolute trust and confidence in God, their Warrior King, who had earlier defeated the mighty nation of Egypt (Exodus 6-15).

They had forgotten

  • 11 . . .his works, [plagues], and his wonders that he had shewed them. 12 Marvelous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan”  (Exod. 14 – 15). 
  • The men of Ephraim had forgotten, who freeed the enslaved Israelites. Passover established.  

The Red Sea deliverance

13 He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap. 14 In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire. 15 He clave the rocks in the wilderness , and gave them drink as out of the great depths. 16 He brought streams also out of the rock and caused waters to run down like rivers.

Even after God had freed the people from Egypt his miraculous hand was over them as they wandered in the wilderness: when he guided them with a cloud by day and fire by night (Exod. 40:36– 38) he brought water out of rocks to ensure that they did not die from thirst (Exod. 17:1– 7; Num. 20:1– 13; Ps. 114).National Geographic’s historical record of the plagues. Even after all of those miracles, what did the people do, and what was God’s response to them? Remember, David is reminding the people about God’s sustaining power and his amazing grace.

Prayer: Lord let us not forget who you are that your hand is not short neither will you fail to deliver us from the hand of the enemy.

Continued here:



Herbert, A.S. “The ‘Parable’ (MĀŠĀL) in the Old Testament.” Scottish Journal of Theology 7, no. 2 (1954): 180–96. DOI:10.1017/S0036930600001332.

Longman, Tremper, III. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary, InterVarsity Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, Created from liberty on 2020-01-22.


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