New International Reader's Version

Psalm 78

Psalm 78

A maskil of Asaph.

My people, listen to my teaching.
    Pay attention to what I say.
I will open my mouth and tell a story.
    I will speak about things that were hidden.
    They happened a long time ago.
We have heard about them and we know them.
    Our people who lived before us have told us about them.
We won’t hide them from our children.
    We will tell them to those who live after us.
We will tell them what the Lord has done that is worthy of praise.
    We will talk about his power and the wonderful things he has done.
He gave laws to the people of Jacob.
    He gave Israel their law.
He commanded our people who lived before us
    to teach his laws to their children.
Then those born later would know his laws.
    Even their children yet to come would know them.
    And they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God.
    They would not forget what he had done.
    They would obey his commands.
They would not be like their people who lived long ago.
    Those people were stubborn. They refused to obey God.
They turned away from him.
    Their spirits were not faithful to him.

The soldiers of Ephraim were armed with bows.
    But they ran away on the day of battle.
10 They didn’t keep the covenant God had made with them.
    They refused to live by his law.
11 They forgot what he had done.
    They didn’t remember the wonders he had shown them.
12 He did miracles right in front of their people who lived long ago.
    At that time they were living in Egypt, in the area of Zoan.
13 God parted the Red Sea and led them through it.
    He made the water stand up like a wall.
14 He guided them with the cloud during the day.
    He led them with the light of a fire all night long.
15 He broke the rocks open in the desert.
    He gave them as much water as there is in the oceans.
16 He brought streams out of a rocky cliff.
    He made water flow down like rivers.

17 But they continued to sin against him.
    In the desert they refused to obey the Most High God.
18 They were stubborn and tested God.
    They ordered him to give them the food they wanted.
19 They spoke against God. They said,
    “Can God really put food on a table in the desert?
20 It is true that he struck the rock, and streams of water poured out.
    Huge amounts of water flowed down.
But can he also give us bread?
    Can he supply meat for his people?”
21 When the Lord heard what they said, he was very angry.
    His anger broke out like fire against the people of Jacob.
    He became very angry with Israel.
22 That was because they didn’t believe in God.
    They didn’t trust in his power to save them.
23 But he gave a command to the skies above.
    He opened the doors of the heavens.
24 He rained down manna for the people to eat.
    He gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Mere human beings ate the bread of angels.
    He sent them all the food they could eat.
26 He made the east wind blow from the heavens.
    By his power he caused the south wind to blow.
27 He rained down meat on them like dust.
    He sent them birds like sand on the seashore.
28 He made the birds come down inside their camp.
    The birds fell all around their tents.
29 People ate until they couldn’t eat any more.
    He gave them what they had wanted.
30 But even before they had finished eating, God acted.
    He did it while the food was still in their mouths.
31 His anger rose up against them.
    He put to death the strongest among them.
    He struck down Israel’s young men.

32 But even after all that, they kept on sinning.
    Even after the wonderful things he had done, they still didn’t believe.
33 So he brought their days to an end like a puff of smoke.
    He ended their years with terror.
34 Every time God killed some of them, the others would seek him.
    They gladly turned back to him again.
35 They remembered that God was their Rock.
    They remembered that God Most High had set them free.
36 But they didn’t mean it when they praised him.
    They lied to him when they spoke.
37 They turned away from him.
    They weren’t faithful to the covenant he had made with them.
38 But he was full of tender love.
    He forgave their sins
    and didn’t destroy his people.
Time after time he held back his anger.
    He didn’t let all his burning anger blaze out.
39 He remembered that they were only human.
    He remembered they were only a breath of air
    that drifts by and doesn’t return.

40 How often they refused to obey him in the desert!
    How often they caused him sorrow in that dry and empty land!
41 Again and again they tested God.
    They made the Holy One of Israel sad and angry.
42 They didn’t remember his power.
    They forgot the day he set them free
    from those who had treated them so badly.
43 They forgot how he had shown them his signs in Egypt.
    They forgot his miracles in the area of Zoan.
44 He turned the river of Egypt into blood.
    The people of Egypt couldn’t drink water from their streams.
45 He sent large numbers of flies that bit them.
    He sent frogs that destroyed their land.
46 He gave their crops to the grasshoppers.
    He gave their food to the locusts.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail.
    He destroyed their fig trees with sleet.
48 He killed their cattle with hail.
    Their livestock were struck by lightning.
49 Because he was so angry with Egypt, he caused them to have great trouble.
    In his great anger he sent destroying angels against them.
50 God prepared a path for his anger.
    He didn’t spare their lives.
    He gave them over to the plague.
51 He killed the oldest son of each family in Egypt.
    He struck down the oldest son in every house in the land of Ham.
52 But he brought his people out like a flock.
    He led them like sheep through the desert.
53 He guided them safely, and they weren’t afraid.
    But the Red Sea swallowed up their enemies.
54 And so he brought his people to the border of his holy land.
    He led them to the central hill country he had taken by his power.
55 He drove out the nations to make room for his people.
    He gave to each family a piece of land to pass on to their children.
    He gave the tribes of Israel a place to make their homes.

56 But they tested God.
    They refused to obey the Most High God.
    They didn’t keep his laws.
57 They were like their people who lived long ago.
    They turned away from him and were not faithful.
They were like a bow that doesn’t shoot straight.
    They couldn’t be trusted.
58 They made God angry by going to their high places.
    They made him jealous by worshiping the statues of their gods.
59 When God saw what the people were doing, he was very angry.
    He turned away from them completely.
60 He deserted the holy tent at Shiloh.
    He left the tent he had set up among his people.
61 He allowed the ark to be captured.
    Into the hands of his enemies he sent the ark where his glory rested.
62 He let his people be killed by swords.
    He was very angry with them.
63 Fire destroyed their young men.
    Their young women had no one to marry.
64 Their priests were killed by swords.
    Their widows weren’t able to weep.

65 Then the Lord woke up as if he had been sleeping.
    He was like a warrior waking up from the deep sleep caused by wine.
66 He drove back his enemies.
    He put them to shame that will last forever.
67 He turned his back on the tents of the people of Joseph.
    He didn’t choose to live in the tribe of Ephraim.
68 Instead, he chose to live in the tribe of Judah.
    He chose Mount Zion, which he loved.
69 There he built his holy place as secure as the heavens.
    He built it to last forever, like the earth.
70 He chose his servant David.
    He took him from the sheep pens.
71 He brought him from tending sheep
    to be the shepherd of his people Jacob.
    He made him the shepherd of Israel, his special people.
72 David cared for them with a faithful and honest heart.
    With skilled hands he led them.

The Message

Psalm 78

An Asaph Psalm

11-4 Listen, dear friends, to God’s truth,
    bend your ears to what I tell you.
I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb;
    I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths,
Stories we heard from our fathers,
    counsel we learned at our mother’s knee.
We’re not keeping this to ourselves,
    we’re passing it along to the next generation—
God’s fame and fortune,
    the marvelous things he has done.

5-8 He planted a witness in Jacob,
    set his Word firmly in Israel,
Then commanded our parents
    to teach it to their children
So the next generation would know,
    and all the generations to come—
Know the truth and tell the stories
    so their children can trust in God,
Never forget the works of God
    but keep his commands to the letter.
Heaven forbid they should be like their parents,
    bullheaded and bad,
A fickle and faithless bunch
    who never stayed true to God.

9-16 The Ephraimites, armed to the teeth,
    ran off when the battle began.
They were cowards to God’s Covenant,
    refused to walk by his Word.
They forgot what he had done—
    marvels he’d done right before their eyes.
He performed miracles in plain sight of their parents
    in Egypt, out on the fields of Zoan.
He split the Sea and they walked right through it;
    he piled the waters to the right and the left.
He led them by day with a cloud,
    led them all the night long with a fiery torch.
He split rocks in the wilderness,
    gave them all they could drink from underground springs;
He made creeks flow out from sheer rock,
    and water pour out like a river.

17-20 All they did was sin even more,
    rebel in the desert against the High God.
They tried to get their own way with God,
    clamored for favors, for special attention.
They whined like spoiled children,
    “Why can’t God give us a decent meal in this desert?
Sure, he struck the rock and the water flowed,
    creeks cascaded from the rock.
But how about some fresh-baked bread?
    How about a nice cut of meat?”

21-31 When God heard that, he was furious—
    his anger flared against Jacob,
    he lost his temper with Israel.
It was clear they didn’t believe God,
    had no intention of trusting in his help.
But God helped them anyway, commanded the clouds
    and gave orders that opened the gates of heaven.
He rained down showers of manna to eat,
    he gave them the Bread of Heaven.
They ate the bread of the mighty angels;
    he sent them all the food they could eat.
He let East Wind break loose from the skies,
    gave a strong push to South Wind.
This time it was birds that rained down—
    succulent birds, an abundance of birds.
He aimed them right for the center of their camp;
    all round their tents there were birds.
They ate and had their fill;
    he handed them everything they craved on a platter.
But their greed knew no bounds;
    they stuffed their mouths with more and more.
Finally, God was fed up, his anger erupted—
    he cut down their brightest and best,
    he laid low Israel’s finest young men.

32-37 And—can you believe it?—they kept right on sinning;
    all those wonders and they still wouldn’t believe!
So their lives dribbled off to nothing—
    nothing to show for their lives but a ghost town.
When he cut them down, they came running for help;
    they turned and pled for mercy.
They gave witness that God was their rock,
    that High God was their redeemer,
But they didn’t mean a word of it;
    they lied through their teeth the whole time.
They could not have cared less about him,
    wanted nothing to do with his Covenant.

38-55 And God? Compassionate!
    Forgave the sin! Didn’t destroy!
Over and over he reined in his anger,
    restrained his considerable wrath.
He knew what they were made of;
    he knew there wasn’t much to them,
How often in the desert they had spurned him,
    tried his patience in those wilderness years.
Time and again they pushed him to the limit,
    provoked Israel’s Holy God.
How quickly they forgot what he’d done,
    forgot their day of rescue from the enemy,
When he did miracles in Egypt,
    wonders on the plain of Zoan.
He turned the River and its streams to blood—
    not a drop of water fit to drink.
He sent flies, which ate them alive,
    and frogs, which bedeviled them.
He turned their harvest over to caterpillars,
    everything they had worked for to the locusts.
He flattened their grapevines with hail;
    a killing frost ruined their orchards.
He pounded their cattle with hail,
    let thunderbolts loose on their herds.
His anger flared,
    a wild firestorm of havoc,
An advance guard of disease-carrying angels
    to clear the ground, preparing the way before him.
He didn’t spare those people,
    he let the plague rage through their lives.
He killed all the Egyptian firstborns,
    lusty infants, offspring of Ham’s virility.
Then he led his people out like sheep,
    took his flock safely through the wilderness.
He took good care of them; they had nothing to fear.
    The Sea took care of their enemies for good.
He brought them into his holy land,
    this mountain he claimed for his own.
He scattered everyone who got in their way;
    he staked out an inheritance for them—
    the tribes of Israel all had their own places.

56-64 But they kept on giving him a hard time,
    rebelled against God, the High God,
    refused to do anything he told them.
They were worse, if that’s possible, than their parents:
    traitors—crooked as a corkscrew.
Their pagan orgies provoked God’s anger,
    their obscene idolatries broke his heart.
When God heard their carryings-on, he was furious;
    he posted a huge No over Israel.
He walked off and left Shiloh empty,
    abandoned the shrine where he had met with Israel.
He let his pride and joy go to the dogs,
    turned his back on the pride of his life.
He turned them loose on fields of battle;
    angry, he let them fend for themselves.
Their young men went to war and never came back;
    their young women waited in vain.
Their priests were massacred,
    and their widows never shed a tear.

65-72 Suddenly the Lord was up on his feet
    like someone roused from deep sleep,
    shouting like a drunken warrior.
He hit his enemies hard, sent them running,
    yelping, not daring to look back.
He disqualified Joseph as leader,
    told Ephraim he didn’t have what it takes,
And chose the Tribe of Judah instead,
    Mount Zion, which he loves so much.
He built his sanctuary there, resplendent,
    solid and lasting as the earth itself.
Then he chose David, his servant,
    handpicked him from his work in the sheep pens.
One day he was caring for the ewes and their lambs,
    the next day God had him shepherding Jacob,
    his people Israel, his prize possession.
His good heart made him a good shepherd;
    he guided the people wisely and well.