Psalm 78:34-53

34 When He killed them, then they sought Him,
And returned and searched diligently for God;
35 And they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High God their Redeemer.
36 But they deceived Him with their mouth
And lied to Him with their tongue.
37 For their heart was not steadfast toward Him,
Nor were they faithful in His covenant.
38 But He, being compassionate, [t]forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them;
And often He [u]restrained His anger
And did not arouse all His wrath.
39 Thus He remembered that they were but flesh,
[v]wind that passes and does not return.

40 How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness
And grieved Him in the desert!
41 Again and again they [w]tempted God,
And pained the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember His [x]power,
The day when He redeemed them from the adversary,
43 When He performed His signs in Egypt
And His marvels in the field of Zoan,
44 And turned their rivers to blood,
And their streams, they could not drink.
45 He sent among them swarms of flies which devoured them,
And frogs which destroyed them.
46 He gave also their crops to the grasshopper
And the product of their labor to the locust.
47 He [y]destroyed their vines with hailstones
And their sycamore trees with frost.
48 He gave over their cattle also to the hailstones
And their herds to bolts of lightning.
49 He sent upon them His burning anger,
Fury and indignation and trouble,
[z]A band of destroying angels.
50 He leveled a path for His anger;
He did not spare their soul from death,
But gave over their life to the plague,
51 And smote all the firstborn in Egypt,
The first issue of their virility in the tents of Ham.
52 But He led forth His own people like sheep
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock;
53 He led them safely, so that they did not fear;
But the sea engulfed their enemies.

This first section is pretty amazing, and again it is continuing from the previous passage where many were killed for their rebellion. So it took death to bring the Israelites back to God, and they still only offered him lip service. Of course, we’re painting in “broad strokes”, as there were some faithful to God, but many were still only going through the motions.

But we’ll come back to the first section, because the psalmist continues with an account of the plagues that were poured out on Egypt. It recounts how God saved Israel from their enemies in Egypt, when he led them to safety, because He loved them. It had nothing to do with their faithfulness, but because they were His people, God rescued them.

So we go back to vv. 34-39, forward in time, to them paying mere lip service. The Israelites were not faithful, and we can read that for ourselves throughout the Old Testament. After God heard their groanings in the slavery of Egypt, and brought them out to freedom, it still wasn’t enough to keep them true. But God was compassionate, and forgave them, and did not destroy them. The psalmist reminds us that “often” God restrained himself, and remembered they were “but flesh”.

Before God rescued the Israelites, He already knew they would rebel, and often. In fact, He knew how many times, and exactly what it would look like, and God still called them His own, and answered their cries. Sound familiar? Let’s go once more to Paul’s letter to the Romans, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

God didn’t sacrifice His son because we were such amazing, good, and kind folks. He did it while we were still sinners, and He did it for love. God knew we wouldn’t be perfect, and He already knew the sins we would commit after He rescued us, and even after we already said “Yes” to Him. There are no surprises here for God, and there’s no getting around His magnificent love and grace and patience towards us.

So, don’t repay that love with rebellion, don’t pain His heart like the Israelites. Sure, you won’t be perfect, and He knows that, but be better. Press into Him and look to Jesus as the example for love, life, and everything. Don’t look back, but seek Him first, each and every day. “His mercies are new every morning” and His love for you is unending, that’s something to truly live for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *