Psalm 78 is a record of Israel’s history from their deliverance from Egypt to the reign of David. This psalm describes Israel’s often rebellion but also records how God would never let them go too far away to the point He would forsake them forever. The reading of this psalm might have been a little more appropriate in conjunction with next week’s study in Matthew, so you might catalog these comments in your mind and use them as an introduction to the disciples’ denial of Christ in Matthew chapter 26.
The Bible is an amazing book for many reasons, not the least of which is God’s way of exalting Himself from what seems to be an upside down position. If we were trying to convince people to follow a God they never desired, and if we wanted to preach His ability to change lives for the better, we would surely pick examples of His followers’ successes and leave the rest untold. Moses parting the Red Sea would be enough without telling how God kept him out of the Promised Land because he disobeyed by twice striking the rock. Joshua’s great victory over Jericho is enough without telling the story of Achan’s sin and the defeat at Ai. Samson carrying the gates of a Philistine city to the top of a hill is enough without telling of his terrible weakness of lust in falling prey to a conniving woman. And of course, David’s victory over the giant Goliath is enough without telling how he betrayed a trusted friend by committing adultery with his wife and then having him murdered in the cover-up.
The complete details of these fallible men’s lives would have been better left untold if we wanted to preach the marvelous virtues of our great God. However, God seeks glory in uncommon ways. The revelation of all the details shows how exceedingly gracious and merciful He truly is. How much love is needed to love someone who loves you? Jesus said if you love those that love you what thanks do you have? Even sinners love those that love them.
It would be enough to tell of God’s salvation of sinners who did not love Him if we wanted people to see how superior God’s love is. But what if God should add more details? What if after sending His Son to die for them and saving them those He loves are terribly ungrateful? How much more love does it take not to obliterate them in anger? It takes even greater resolve to love those that multiple times turn their backs on Him after receiving His rich benefits. God’s love is magnified as He promises to preserve His people despite their constant failures. This is the way God works. This is the way He wrote His book. Tell the whole story and God will be glorified in most uncommon ways.
After many verses of Israel’s obstinacy, the psalm ends on a note of peace. God gave Israel her greatest king. David, the shepherd king, brought Israel to prominence as he led them with a gentle hand. David symbolizes the last king of Israel. He is also a shepherd that feeds His flock and gently cares for those that are with young (Isa. 40:11). Christ is the great King. He loves us with unconditional love. He will never leave us or forsake us. Tell the whole world the story of Him and they will never find failure in Him. He came to make up for failures. God accepts us because of Him.
Thank God for His book. We see ourselves reflected in stories like Psalm 78. All too often they are tales of failures, yet we can still claim His promise that He will bring us home to glory.
Pastor V. Mark Smith