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Tell the Coming Generation

A Maskil11Probably a musical or liturgical term of Asaph.

1Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
4We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

5He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
8and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.

9The Ephraimites, armed with22Hebrew armed and shooting the bow,
turned back on the day of battle.
10They did not keep God's covenant,
but refused to walk according to his law.
11They forgot his works
and the wonders that he had shown them.
12In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders
in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
13He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
and made the waters stand like a heap.
14In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
and all the night with a fiery light.
15He split rocks in the wilderness
and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
16He made streams come out of the rock
and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

17Yet they sinned still more against him,
rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18They tested God in their heart
by demanding the food they craved.
19They spoke against God, saying,
“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
20He struck the rock so that water gushed out
and streams overflowed.
Can he also give bread
or provide meat for his people?”

21Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath;
a fire was kindled against Jacob;
his anger rose against Israel,
22because they did not believe in God
and did not trust his saving power.
23Yet he commanded the skies above
and opened the doors of heaven,
24and he rained down on them manna to eat
and gave them the grain of heaven.
25Man ate of the bread of the angels;
he sent them food in abundance.
26He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
and by his power he led out the south wind;
27he rained meat on them like dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas;
28he let them fall in the midst of their camp,
all around their dwellings.
29And they ate and were well filled,
for he gave them what they craved.
30But before they had satisfied their craving,
while the food was still in their mouths,
31the anger of God rose against them,
and he killed the strongest of them
and laid low the young men of Israel.

32In spite of all this, they still sinned;
despite his wonders, they did not believe.
33So he made their days vanish like33Hebrew in a breath,44Or vapor
and their years in terror.
34When he killed them, they sought him;
they repented and sought God earnestly.
35They remembered that God was their rock,
the Most High God their redeemer.
36But they flattered him with their mouths;
they lied to him with their tongues.
37Their heart was not steadfast toward him;
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38Yet he, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
and did not stir up all his wrath.
39He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not again.
40How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved him in the desert!
41They tested God again and again
and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
42They did not remember his power55Hebrew hand
or the day when he redeemed them from the foe,
43when he performed his signs in Egypt
and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.
44He turned their rivers to blood,
so that they could not drink of their streams.
45He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them,
and frogs, which destroyed them.
46He gave their crops to the destroying locust
and the fruit of their labor to the locust.
47He destroyed their vines with hail
and their sycamores with frost.
48He gave over their cattle to the hail
and their flocks to thunderbolts.
49He let loose on them his burning anger,
wrath, indignation, and distress,
a company of destroying angels.
50He made a path for his anger;
he did not spare them from death,
but gave their lives over to the plague.
51He struck down every firstborn in Egypt,
the firstfruits of their strength in the tents of Ham.
52Then he led out his people like sheep
and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid,
but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54And he brought them to his holy land,
to the mountain which his right hand had won.
55He drove out nations before them;
he apportioned them for a possession
and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.

56Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God
and did not keep his testimonies,
57but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers;
they twisted like a deceitful bow.
58For they provoked him to anger with their high places;
they moved him to jealousy with their idols.
59When God heard, he was full of wrath,
and he utterly rejected Israel.
60He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh,
the tent where he dwelt among mankind,
61and delivered his power to captivity,
his glory to the hand of the foe.
62He gave his people over to the sword
and vented his wrath on his heritage.
63Fire devoured their young men,
and their young women had no marriage song.
64Their priests fell by the sword,
and their widows made no lamentation.
65Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
like a strong man shouting because of wine.
66And he put his adversaries to rout;
he put them to everlasting shame.

67He rejected the tent of Joseph;
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
68but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loves.
69He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
like the earth, which he has founded forever.
70He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
71from following the nursing ewes he brought him
to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance.
72With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand.


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Verses 1–8

These are called dark and deep sayings, because they are carefully to be looked into. The law of God was given with a particular charge to teach it diligently to their children, that the church may abide for ever. Also, that the providences of God, both in mercy and in judgment, might encourage them to conform to the will of God. The works of God much strengthen our resolution to keep his commandments. Hypocrisy is the high road to apostacy; those that do not set their hearts right, will not be stedfast with God. Many parents, by negligence and wickedness, become murderers of their children. But young persons, though they are bound to submit in all things lawful, must not obey sinful orders, or copy sinful examples.

Verses 9–39

Sin dispirits men, and takes away the heart. Forgetfulness of God's works is the cause of disobedience to his laws. This narrative relates a struggle between God's goodness and man's badness. The Lord hears all our murmurings and distrusts, and is much displeased. Those that will not believe the power of God's mercy, shall feel the fire of his indignation. Those cannot be said to trust in God's salvation as their happiness at last, who can not trust his providence in the way to it. To all that by faith and prayer, ask, seek, and knock, these doors of heaven shall at any time be opened; and our distrust of God is a great aggravation of our sins. He expressed his resentment of their provocation; not in denying what they sinfully lusted after, but in granting it to them. Lust is contented with nothing. Those that indulge their lust, will never be estranged from it. Those hearts are hard indeed, that will neither be melted by the mercies of the Lord, nor broken by his judgments. Those that sin still, must expect to be in trouble still. And the reason why we live with so little comfort, and to so little purpose, is, because we do not live by faith. Under these rebukes they professed repentance, but they were not sincere, for they were not constant. In Israel's history we have a picture of our own hearts and lives. God's patience, and warnings, and mercies, imbolden them to harden their hearts against his word. And the history of kingdoms is much the same. Judgments and mercies have been little attended to, until the measure of their sins has been full. And higher advantages have not kept churches from declining from the commandments of God. Even true believers recollect, that for many a year they abused the kindness of Providence. When they come to heaven, how will they admire the Lord's patience and mercy in bringing them to his kingdom!

Verses 40–55

Let not those that receive mercy from God, be thereby made bold to sin, for the mercies they receive will hasten its punishment; yet let not those who are under Divine rebukes for sin, be discouraged from repentance. The Holy One of Israel will do what is most for his own glory, and what is most for their good. Their forgetting former favours, led them to limit God for the future. God made his own people to go forth like sheep; and guided them in the wilderness, as a shepherd his flock, with all care and tenderness. Thus the true Joshua, even Jesus, brings his church out of the wilderness; but no earthly Canaan, no worldly advantages, should make us forget that the church is in the wilderness while in this world, and that there remaineth a far more glorious rest for the people of God.

Verses 56–72

After the Israelites were settled in Canaan, the children were like their fathers. God gave them his testimonies, but they turned back. Presumptuous sins render even Israelites hateful to God's holiness, and exposed to his justice. Those whom the Lord forsakes become an easy prey to the destroyer. And sooner or later, God will disgrace his enemies. He set a good government over his people; a monarch after his own heart. With good reason does the psalmist make this finishing, crowning instance of God's favour to Israel; for David was a type of Christ, the great and good Shepherd, who was humbled first, and then exalted; and of whom it was foretold, that he should be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. On the uprightness of his heart, and the skilfulness of his hands, all his subjects may rely; and of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. Every trial of human nature hitherto, confirms the testimony of Scripture, that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, and nothing but being created anew by the Holy Ghost can cure the ungodliness of any.




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