Psalm 78:54-72

54 So He brought them to His holy [aa]land,
To this [ab]hill country which His right hand had gained.
55 He also drove out the nations before them
And apportioned them for an inheritance by measurement,
And made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents.
56 Yet they [ac]tempted and rebelled against the Most High God
And did not keep His testimonies,
57 But turned back and acted treacherously like their fathers;
They turned aside like a treacherous bow.
58 For they provoked Him with their high places
And aroused His jealousy with their graven images.
59 When God heard, He [ad]was filled with wrath
And greatly abhorred Israel;
60 So that He abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh,
The tent [ae]which He had pitched among men,
61 And gave up His strength to captivity
And His glory into the hand of the adversary.
62 He also delivered His people to the sword,
And [af]was filled with wrath at His inheritance.
63 Fire devoured [ag]His young men,
And [ah]His virgins had no wedding songs.
64 [ai]His priests fell by the sword,
And [aj]His widows could not weep.

65 Then the Lord awoke as if from sleep,
Like a warrior [ak]overcome by wine.
66 He [al]drove His adversaries backward;
He put on them an everlasting reproach.
67 He also rejected the tent of Joseph,
And did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
68 But chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion which He loved.
69 And He built His sanctuary like the heights,
Like the earth which He has founded forever.
70 He also chose David His servant
And took him from the sheepfolds;
71 From [am]the care of the [an]ewes with suckling lambs He brought him
To shepherd Jacob His people,
And Israel His inheritance.
72 So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them with his skillful hands.

As we read through this, we see how God brought Israel into the promised land, and how He “drove out the nations before them…” Yet the next verses describe how they rebelled and acted treacherously against God. One need only look at the book of Judges to see how many times they turned against God after Joshua died, but the story that God brought to my mind was earlier, during Joshua’s leadership.

We look at the stories about Israel, and one could ask, “how in the world were they so fickle?” Yet after God gave them victory at Jericho and Ai, we see a clue in the story of the Gibeonites (see Joshua 9 for the whole account). The Gibeonites were afraid of Israel, but instead of joining forces with their enemies, they deceived the leaders of Israel. These envoys tricked them into thinking they were from a far off land, and asked for a promise of peace.

They had just seen how important following God’s commands were in the battle against Ai, and yet they did not bother to ask God about this covenant. They let their guards down, and depended on their own judgment, an action that would later lead to a three-year famine in Israel. It seems like such a small thing, and so it is even with our own journeys.

We cannot follow God without intentionality. It doesn’t happen by accident, you can’t just fall into it, or skate along nice and easy. The rebellion of Israel rarely (if ever) came overnight, though it sometimes seems that way. Little by little, they let their minds and their hearts slip, so that even if they followed the law, it was no more than ritual.

Complacency is no way to live your life, whether you are a believer or not. We need to remember God in every area of our life, every day of our life. Certainly, God has great patience with us, especially as He knows our hearts. But why put Him to the test? Make a conscious decision each day to seek His face, and to follow His guiding, wherever He may lead. Then let Him be your shepherd, and listen for His voice, and correction, that His “skillful hands” may help you avoid the traps that “so easily entangle”.

Leave a Reply

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