In a time of trouble and despair, Asaph begins to question the Lord:
- “Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” (Psalm 77:7-9).
Asaph’s questioning leads him to remembering the Lord’s past faithfulness:
- “And I said, ‘This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds” (Psalms 77:10-12).
Remembering what the Lord has done in the past allows us to trust Him in the present. And you can’t remember the faithfulness of the Lord unless you know His story. Asaph is a man who knows the story of the Lord as he recounts it Psalm 78:
- “Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. He divided the sea and caused them to pass through; and He made the waters stand up like a heap. In the daytime also He led them with the cloud, and all the night with a light of fire. He split the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink in abundance like the depths. He also brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers” (Psalm 78:12-16).
- “Had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven. Men ate angels’ food; He sent them food to the full” (Psalm 78:24-25).
- “He also rained meat on them like the dust, feathered fowl like the sand of the seas; and He let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their dwellings” (Psalm 78:27-28).
The Lord’s story not only highlights His faithfulness but also exposes mankind’s disobedience and lack of faith:
- “In spite of this they still sinned, and did not believe in His wondrous works. Therefore their days He consumed in futility, and their years in fear” (Psalm 78:33-33).
- “How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy, when He worked His signs in Egypt, and His wonders in the field of Zoan” (Psalm 78:40-43).
Of course God’s power cannot be restrained, but we can limit the Lord’s activity through our own lives by not surrendering to Him. When Jesus arrives on the scene, He will be rejected in His own home town. Matthew will write about how Jesus’ works were limited there because of the people’s lack of faith – “Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). The Lord desires to bless us and to lead us, but we must give Him full access to our lives.
Asaph says that not only did the people rebel against the Lord in the wilderness, but also when He brought them into the promised land:
- “He also drove out the nations before them, allotted them an inheritance by survey, and made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents. Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God, and did not keep His testimonies” (Psalm 78:55-56).
- “When God heard this, He was furious, and greatly abhorred Israel, so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent He had placed among men, and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy’s hand. He also gave His people over to the sword, and was furious with His inheritance” (Psalm 78:59-62).
Despite the people’s lack of faith, the Lord was faithful as He defeated the Philistines, brought the tabernacle back to Israel, and gave them a leader who was after His own heart, King David:
- “But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved. And He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth which He has established forever. He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; From following the ewes that had young He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78:68-72).
The Lord is still faithful today, in spite of man’s disobedience and lack of faith – “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). God is sending a better David to rescue and lead His people. This entire story is about the Lord’s Son Jesus Christ who is coming to live a sinless life we can’t live and die a horrific death that we deserve, so that anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ shall be deemed righteous, not based on our own merit but His, and restored to the Father. Today, right this moment, God is working to bring salvation to anyone who believes – to anyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done. Anyone who prays a prayer of genuine repentance and asks Jesus to be Lord over their life will be grafted into His Kingdom – “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world… So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13,19).
We have an awesome God with an incredible story of how He sent His Son to save the world! God commands His people to know His story and pass it down from generation to generation to remind them of the Lord’s faithfulness, and to encourage them to walk in the ways of the Lord:
- “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done” (Psalm 78:1-4).
It only takes one generation not knowing the Lord and His ways to lead future generations away from God and into full blown idolatry as we saw in the Judges Era (Judges 2:10). May we be a generation that knows the Lord and His story and passes it down.
We have one more day of reading the psalms, and then we will jump into the life of King Solomon, so keep reading. (Psalms 75-78)