My people, listen to my teaching;
listen to what I say.
I will speak using stories;
I will tell secret things from long ago.
We have heard them and known them
by what our ancestors have told us.
We will not keep them from our children;
we will tell those who come later
about the praises of the Lord.
We will tell about his power
and the miracles he has done.
The Lord made an agreement with Jacob
and gave the teachings to Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach to their children.
Then their children would know them,
even their children not yet born.
And they would tell their children.
So they would all trust God
and would not forget what he had done
but would obey his commands.
They would not be like their ancestors
who were stubborn and disobedient.
Their hearts were not loyal to God,
and they were not true to him.
The men of Ephraim had bows for weapons,
but they ran away on the day of battle.
They didn't keep their agreement with God
and refused to live by his teachings.
They forgot what he had done
and the miracles he had shown them.
He did miracles while their ancestors watched,
in the fields of Zoan in Egypt.
He divided the Red Sea and led them through.
He made the water stand up like a wall.
He led them with a cloud by day
and by the light of a fire by night.
He split the rocks in the desert
and gave them more than enough water,
as if from the deep ocean.
He brought streams out of the rock
and caused water to flow down like rivers.
But the people continued to sin against him;
in the desert they turned against God Most High.
They decided to test God
by asking for the food they wanted.
Then they spoke against God, saying,
"Can God prepare food in the desert?
When he hit the rock, water poured out
and rivers flowed down.
But can he give us bread also?
Will he provide his people with meat?"
When the Lord heard them, he was very angry.
His anger was like fire to the people of Jacob;
his anger grew against the people of Israel.
They had not believed God
and had not trusted him to save them.
But he gave a command to the clouds above
and opened the doors of heaven.
He rained manna down on them to eat;
he gave them grain from heaven.
So they ate the bread of angels.
He sent them all the food they could eat.
He sent the east wind from heaven
and led the south wind by his power.
He rained meat on them like dust.
The birds were as many as the sand of the sea.
He made the birds fall inside the camp,
all around the tents.
So the people ate and became very full.
God had given them what they wanted.
While they were still eating,
and while the food was still in their mouths,
God became angry with them.
He killed some of the healthiest of them;
he struck down the best young men of Israel.
But they kept on sinning;
they did not believe even with the miracles.
So he ended their days without meaning
and their years in terror.
Anytime he killed them,
they would look to him for help;
they would come back to God and follow him.
They would remember that God was their Rock,
that God Most High had saved them.
But their words were false,
and their tongues lied to him.
Their hearts were not really loyal to God;
they did not keep his agreement.
Still God was merciful.
He forgave their sins
and did not destroy them.
Many times he held back his anger
and did not stir up all his anger.
He remembered that they were only human,
like a wind that blows and does not come back
Psalm 78: 1-39
READ Psalm 78: 1-72
SITUATION Asaph recounted Israel's history from slavery in Egypt until the reign of King David. He retold the story in order that the Jewish people would remember their past and be reminded of the mercy that God had shown them.
OBSERVATION While the Israelites continually complained and were unfaithful, God faithfully blessed them. God cared for his people even as they dishonored him.
INSPIRATION We should banish from our minds forever the common but erroneous notion that justice and judgment characterize the God of Israel, while mercy and grace belong to the Lord of the Church. Actually there is in principle no difference between the Old Testament and the New. In the New Testament Scriptures there is a fuller development of redemptive truth, but one God speaks in both dispensation, and what He speaks agrees with what He is. Wherever and whenever God appears to men, He acts like Himself. Whether in the garden of Eden or the Garden of Gethsemane. God is merciful as well as just. He has always dealt in justice when His mercy is despised. Thus He did in antediluvian times; thus when Christ walked among men; thus He is doing today and will continue always to do for no other reason than that He is God....
As judgment is God's justice confronting moral inequity, so mercy is the goodness of God confronting human suffering and guilt. Were there no guilt in the world, no pain and no tears, God would yet be infinitely merciful; but His mercy might well remain hidden in His heart, unknown to the created universe. No voice would be raised to celebrate the mercy of which none felt the need. It is human misery and sin that call forth the divine mercy. (From Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer)
APPLICATION Don't forget to praise God and thank him for what he has done. Prayerfully remember the stepping-stones in your life. Thank God for molding you as he has seen fit throughout the years.
EXPLORATION God's Unfailing Mercy - 2 Samuel 24:14; Nehemiah 9:31; Psalm 25:6; 57:1; Isaiah 63:9; Ephesians 2:4-7; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 1:3.