A Psalm to Give Instruction (Psalm #78)

A psalm to give instruction

Text: Psalm 78

The purpose is stated in the first seven verses. Purpose of this psalm is to prevent future generations from acting like previous generations toward God. Asaph sings about the mighty works the LORD did in Israel before bringing David to the throne. But after each wondrous work the children of Israel forgot God. This song contains mighty works of the LORD punctuated by men forgetting the LORD.

The song is like a celebration for David’s ascension to the throne and a warning to future generations particularly of David’s descendants. This song records the transition of God’s presence from Shiloh in Ephraim to Jerusalem in Judah. Why did the LORD do this? The song tells you why. Ephraim was the son of Joseph. It was Joseph who was thrust into leadership because he followed the LORD. Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim and Joshua was the one that led Israel into the promised land. But once in the promised land Ephraim became full of wickedness. When you get to 1 Samuel the ark of God is in Shiloh which is in Ephraim. Samuel is from Ephraim. But there is no man in Ephraim that possesses the leadership qualities God is looking for. Look at verses 9, 59, 65-70. David is chosen by God because he is a man after God’s own heart.

Look at verse 41. You believe God is all powerful. There are doctrines of God in theological classes about the omnipotence of God meaning He is all powerful. He is in control of everything. But verses like this say the opposite. It says God was limited. Which makes much more sense considering the world we live in. If the LORD was in control of everything there would be no hatred, murder, theft, bitterness, abortions, crooked politicians, and everyone would be saved. The LORD didn’t make anyone come to church tonight. You came because you chose to. 

The psalmist uses words like they tempted God, they provoked God, they flattered God, and they accused God. We’re going to look at the things that limited the LORD according to this song. The issue over and over is a lack of belief evidenced by a failure to remember and keep God’s law. Notice verses 22, 32, 57 that characterize Israel as unbelieving and unfaithful.

Ephraim refused to contend for the faith (vss 8-11)

  • They’re equipped. They have an inheritance. But they’re going to let sin run rampant in the inheritance.
  • Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Failed to believe God’s provision (vss 17-19, 21-22)

  • Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. Quench not the Spirit.

Faithless in light of the LORD’S wondrous works (vs 32)

Flattered God (vss 36-37)

Turned back, provoked, grieved God (vss 40-42)

Brought in idols (vss 56-58)

  • At the end of Judges it was an Ephrathite named Micah who hired a Levite to make idols for him.

The LORD is looking for someone to represent His leadership on the earth. And when He finds that soul, He takes them from what they’re doing, and raises them up into a position of greater influence (vss 70-72).