Psalm Chapter 78: Lord, they continued to sin: Verses 17-31

(Unless otherwise cited, the scriptures in this devotional are from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. It is not chosen for its veracity but only because it is a public domain version of scripture.)

Part 2 of Psalm Chapter 78: Lord, they continued to sin: Verses 17-31



The psalmist reminds the nation of  Israel about its rebellions in the wilderness. We read about those instances in the books of Exodus: Please take the time to read this book and also the Book of Numbers. Today Christians do not read the Old Testament. They rely on movies and pastors to give them excerpts from these books. Devotionals do not provide one with the brevity and seriousness of the sins notated in these books when one does not read the entire works for themselves.

Theological historians are not certain why the psalmist bounces between Ephraim and Israel. But it is clear to this reader that the people of Israel were rebellious, and their sinful attitudes were ongoing events in their lives. They deliberately ignored God and created their own gods. Today we do the same thing. The gods of today are not as insipid as the brass and golden calves of the OT times, but they are just as sinful. The gods of social media, recognition, positions, political affiliations, religious institutions, theological constructs, etc.  Like Israel of the past,  God has demonstrated his power to his people, but we continually respond with doubt. 

The people of God tested him in the wilderness: Food

17 But they continued to sin against him,  rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High. 18 They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.

  • In the wilderness (Num. 14:22), including their demands for food.

19 They spoke against God; they said, [Just look at this statement.] “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness? 20 True, he struck the rock, and water gushed out, streams flowed abundantly, but can he also give us bread? Can he supply meat for his people?” [By looking at this today we can say, “What audacity!” But how many times have we said, “Nope, God cannot solve this problem. We need laws, we need legislation, we need better politicians who will give us what we need. Jobs, food, shelter, money, recognition, make us great in the eyes of whomever!” Look at the result of Israel impertinence towards God. 21 When the Lord heard them, he was furious;  his fire broke out against Jacob,     and his wrath rose against Israel, 22 for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. 23 Yet he gave a command to the skies above  and opened the doors of the heavens;

  • Although Psalm 23:5 identifies God as a divine host, who prepares a table for his people, the people who wandered in the wilderness did not believe that God could provide for them. The parting of the red seas meant nothing to them. Water from the rock was looked upon as a “So, what occurrence!”
  • Even though he had provided water from a rock early in their journey (Exod. 17:1– 7), they doubted that he could feed them. That ungrateful attitude angered God, and he punished them but still gave them manna. What is manna?
    • White in color like coriander seed, manna tasted like wafers made with honey mentioned in (Exod. 16:31) and the olive oil noted ins (Num. 11:8).
    • The manna would appear every morning (except on the Sabbath) with enough to satisfy their hunger for the day.
    • On Fridays, God gave them enough for two days on the day before the Sabbath.
    • The psalmist portrays the divine beginnings of this gift by


Verses 24-25 “And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.”

Even this marvelous provision was not good enough for the people. When was the last time that God provided something for you, and you whined about it not being enough? It is human to forget that we don’t know what is best for us and that only God has that insight into our lives. Continuing with the ungrateful attitude of the people.

Manna was not good enough for them. They wanted animal flesh to eat, which angered the Lord. So, he gave them meat and plenty of it (Num. 11:4– 35). Their disobedience and ungratefulness were judged. The psalmist records the plague that killed many of the rebels. The place where the judgment was executed was named Kibroth Hattaavah, ‘”the graves of lust” (Num. 11:33– 34). There are consequences for our actions. 

Today, because people are not cognizant of that fact and because the punishment for our sins is not as immediate as it was during the time of the psalmist, or Moses, we appear to believe that God is silent. Paul writes to the Romans (6:23): “The wages of sin is death.” Today used more flippantly; however, the end result is still the same. Romans 6:20-21 states, “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” 

Paul is asking us why we would want to continue to sin when we know that the end result is death? A  life free from enslavement to sin is found only in accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and then handing over our lives to him for him to live through us. Before faith in Christ, all of us were slaves to sin. Sinful thoughts, words, actions, and lifestyle. The death that Paul is referencing is experienced both in the present and for eternity. Right now, sins are enticing, fun/liberating. A lifestyle of sin is ultimately unfulfilling and does not result in the eternal outcome we desire. It will be too late to change when we realize that the eternal outcome is detrimental to us. It is better to change now. Faith in Christ is the solution for escaping the penalty of living a life enmeshed in sin. Faith in his birth, death, resurrection, and how it frees us from eternal damnation.

What has God called us from that we lust after today? Think about things we all desire that may lead us to worship them instead of God. As we think about those things, we can begin to recognize the sin of Israel that the psalmist talks about in this passage.  Wallowing in the memory of sin does us no good at all. Praying for forgiveness and abstaining from going back to that state and/or stage in our Christian walk is pleasing to the Lord. I must state here that salvation is not hinged on us being perfect, doing ‘stuff’ to please God, or manipulating him into not exacting punishment on us. Christ paid the price of our retribution with his death and resurrection.  However, that does not give us an excuse to continue living sinful lives.  It does not preclude that it is appropriate for us to stay in our habitual sins. It does open the doors to the throne of God to which the nation of Israel did not have personal access.

Prayer: Lord, your death on the cross, tore the veil of separation wide open.  You made it possible for us to be able to come before the throne of mercy and grace and plead for forgiveness, healing, blessings, and provision – not just for ourselves but also for others. Thank you for the cross, Lord. Your resurrection gave us access to the table that you spread before your servant David. Your light shines through us as brightly as we allow it to shine. It blazes through the darkness of this world as long as we remain in your presence. Forgive our unbelief and our sins, and give us the boldness that comes only from the Holy Spirit, Lord. In your name, we pray – selah.

Song: God’s not done with you

Prayer: Lord your patient hand is over my life. You have given all that I need to walk forward in faith.  The sacrifice of your Son says to me ” Joyce God is not done with you. Keep your head up high. On the days when life seems so hard, when the pain is more than you can bear, just know that I am with you.” Lord, I live in that promise every second of every day. Lord even though you fully know me it is amazing to me that you still love me. Yes, I will be still as you work out all things for my good and for my benefit. Use me as you see fit, Lord. Use my gifts, talents, and abilities for your glory and honor – selah!


Longman, Tremper, III. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary, InterVarsity Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from liberty on 2020-01-22 09:27:01.

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