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78. Psalm 78

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

2I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:

3Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.

4We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.

5For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:

6That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:

7That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:

8And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.

9The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.

10They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law;

11And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.

12Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.

13He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.

14In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.

15He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.

16He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.

17And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.

18And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.

19Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?

20Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?

21Therefore the Lord heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;

22Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:

23Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,

24And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.

25Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.

26He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.

27He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:

28And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.

29So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire;

30They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths,

31The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.

32For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.

33Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.

34When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.

35And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.

36Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.

37For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.

38But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.

39For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

40How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!

41Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

42They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.

43How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan:

44And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink.

45He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.

46He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust.

47He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost.

48He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.

49He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.

50He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence;

51And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:

52But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.

53And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.

54And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.

55He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.

56Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies:

57But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.

58For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.

59When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel:

60So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;

61And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand.

62He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.

63The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.

64Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.

65Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.

66And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.

67Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim:

68But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.

69And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.

70He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:

71From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.

72So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.

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38. Yet he, being merciful, expiated their iniquity. To show the more fully that no means had succeeded in bending the Israelites, and causing them to return to a sound state of mind, we are now informed that, although God bare with their multiplied transgressions, and exercised his mercy in forgiving them, they had no less manifested their wickedness in abusing his benignity in every instance in which it was displayed, than they had shown themselves refractory and obstinate when he treated them with severity. At the same time, the reason is assigned why they did not utterly perish. They no doubt deserved to be involved in one common destruction; but it is declared that God mitigated his anger, that some seed of them might remain. That none might infer, from these examples of vengeance which have been mentioned, that God had proceeded to punish them with undue severity, we are told that the punishments inflicted upon them were moderate — yea, mild, when compared with the aggravated nature of their wickedness. God kept back his hand, not looking so much to what they had deserved, as desiring to give place to his mercy. We are not, however, to imagine that he is changeable, when at one time he chastises us with a degree of severity, and at another time gently draws and allures us to himself; for in the exercise of his matchless wisdom, he has recourse to different means by which to try whether there is really any hope of our recovery. But the guilt of men becomes more aggravated, when neither his severity can reform them nor his mercy melt them. It is to be observed, that the mercy of God, which is an essential attribute of his nature, is here assigned as the reason why he spared his people, to teach us that he was not induced by any other cause but this, to show himself so much inclined and ready to pardon. Moreover, as he pardoned them not only in one instance, nor in one respect, it is affirmed that he expiated their iniquity, that he might not destroy them; and again, that although he had been oftentimes provoked, he yet ceased not to turn away his anger; and, finally, that he mitigated his chastisements, lest the people should be overwhelmed with the weight of them.




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