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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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23. But he had commanded the clouds from above. It is a mistake to suppose that this miracle is related merely in the way of history. The prophet rather censures the Israelites the more severely from the consideration, that although fed to the full with manna, they ceased not to lust after the dainties which they knew God had denied them. It was the basest ingratitude to scorn and reject the heavenly food, which, so to speak, associated them with angels. Were a man who dwells in France or Italy to grieve and fret that he has not the bread of Egypt to eat, nor the wine of Asia to drink, would he not make war against God and nature, after the manner of the giants of old? Much less excusable was the inordinate lust of the Israelites, whom God not only furnished with earthly provision in rich abundance, but to whom he also gave the bread of heaven for their support. Had they even endured hunger for a lengthened period, propriety and duty would have required them to ask food with more humility. Had they been supplied with only bran and chaff to eat, it would have been their bounden duty to have acknowledged that in the place where they were — in the wilderness — this was no ordinary boon of Heaven. Had only coarse bread been granted them, they would have had sufficient reason for thanksgiving. But how much stronger were their obligations to God, when he created a new kind of food, with which, by stretching out, as it were, his hand from heaven, he supplied them richly and in great abundance? This is the reason why the manna is called corn of heaven, and bread of the mighty Some explain the Hebrew word אבירים, abbirim, as denoting the heavens, 329329     Abu Walid and Kimchi read, “the bread of heaven.” an opinion which I do not altogether reject. I, however, prefer taking it for angels, as it is understood by the Chaldee interpreter, and some others who have followed him. 330330     The Chaldee paraphrase of the expression, the bread of the mighty, is, “the food that descends from the dwelling of angels;” so that, according to this view, it signifies no more than, “corn of heaven,” by which the manna is described in the preceding verse. Dr Geddes and Williams observe, that the Hebrew word אבירים, abbirim, never signifies angels, but persons of the higher classes, the rich, the great, the noble; and that the meaning of the Psalmist is, that the Israelites found in the manna a dainty, delicate food, such as might suit the palates of the great; that it was bread fit for princes; the best, the choicest of bread. This agrees with Simonis’ rendering of the phrase, “cibus nobilium, scilicet principum; hoc est, cibus exquisitus, delicatus, eximius.” Such also is the view taken by Fry, Walford, and others. If by אבירים, abbirim, the mighty, angels should be understood, as it is rendered in all the ancient versions, the meaning will be substantially the same; for the manna, by an obvious poetical figure, may be called the bread of angels, to denote food of the most exquisite kind; just as Paul speaks of the tongues of angels, (1 Corinthians 13:1,) to indicate eloquence of the highest order. The miracle is celebrated in high terms, to present the impiety of the people in a more detestable light; for it was a much more striking display of divine power for manna to be rained down from heaven, than if they had been fed either with herbs or fruits, or with other increase of the earth. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:3, calls the manna spiritual meat, in a different sense — because it was a figure and symbol of Christ. But here the design of the prophet is to reprove the twofold ingratitude of the people, who despised not only the common food which was produced from the ground, but also the bread of angels. Some have translated the verbs in the past tense, He commanded the clouds he opened the doors of heaven he rained down manna, etc 331331     “Les autres ont traduit les verbes par un temps passe, Il a commande aux nuees, Il a ouvert les portes du ciel, Il a fait pluvoir la Manne,” etc. — Fr. But to remove all ambiguity, I have thought it preferable to translate the verbs in the preterpluperfect tense, He had commanded, he had opened, he had rained, to enable my readers the better to understand that the prophet does not here simply relate this history, but recalls it to remembrance for another purpose, as a thing which happened long ago.




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