Psalm 78

Psalm 78

I want to take an Old Testament Narrative that is actually located in Psalms (which we really haven't covered yet). I want to look at this story and show how we translate the Old Testament to twenty-first century America.

Psalm 78 is a song by Asaph, the lead "praise and worship leader" of David. The song is a story of a rebellious Israel and teaches us the desires and character of God so that we can avoid from doing them again. In fact, the context of this song passes over generations of a people in failure with God (vs 8, 37). God has not changed (Malachi 3:6) and therefore we can look at the eternal truths and learn from them.

Asaph is telling us about Israel who knew they were children of God. Likewise, they saw the great things that God did. He delivered them from slavery (vs 43-53) but they did not remember their redemption (vs 42). It's not in their thoughts that they forgot but in their actions. God split the sea and led them out through dry land (vs 13). He guided them by a cloud by day and fire by night (vs 14). He caused water to come from a rock in the wilderness (vs 15-16). Yet they forgot these actions as well (vs 11). Again, they did not forget mentally, but in their actions for they were not satisfied with their needs being met, they wanted what they fancied; they wanted what THEY wanted and this was a testing of God (vs 18).

Because they had seen how He provided but were not satisfied, wanting and asking for what fancied them instead, it angered God (vs 21) and Asaph stated that they did not "believe in Him" (vs 22).

He opened the "clouds of heaven" and rained down bread (vs 23-25). He caused pheasant to fall into their camp (vs 26-28). He filled them, gave them the food of their fancy, gave them everything they asked for (vs 29). He did not deprive them of what they craved (vs 30). And while they were basking in the pleasures of their desires the wrath of God came against them (vs 31).

There are some things that are not timeless here. We are not being rescued from slavery in Egypt but we are redeemed from the slavery of sin which is being played out in the secular country we live in. We are not having bread and pheasant fall from the sky but are needs are given to us through our abundance of jobs. There's no water coming from rocks and seas splitting open. God may or may not be pouring out his wrath right now, but we do know there is a wrath that is to come - at the judgment. But there are many timeless truths.

These are people of God who were redeemed and who God provided for. They are also people of God who tested Him by asking for more and more of what THEY wanted because they were not satisfied with God's provision. And this is the warning we need to bring away from this song.

Christians in America know that we are children of God, redeemed by Christ. American's are also the richest people in all of history; not just the world but history. Yet, the most popular teaching today is called the prosperity message where the proponents of this message lead the majority of churchgoers into fast's for more stuff, chants of Bible passages ripped from context for more stuff, prayers for more stuff.

Shall we not listen to this song? Should we continue to repeat the sins of the generations before us? We believe we are blessed by God and I'm sure that Israel did as well while their mouths were full of what they asked for in their pleasures (vs 30). "But we have John 3:16 that says, 'whoever believes in Him...'". Don't miss this... Psalm 78:22 makes a direct connection between "believe in" and satisfaction in God provision. If we are not careful to be satisfied in God's provision we can find ourselves in the wrath of God while basking in what He provided because we made an idol of the gift while merely flattering the Giver with our mouths; for we spend an hour or two on Sunday, post motivational posts on social media, proclaim we are children of God, while we do little for the Kingdom of God (if anything) and for the glory of God's name in our actions while we spend hours upon hours a week "filling our mouths" with the pleasures of this world while asking for more from God (Matthew 6:24).