GK’s Psalm 78 Devo Comments

Today in my morning devotions I once again read the powerful and
enlightening Psalm 78.

Without offering a full commentary here, there were three general
themes that leaped out at me that I thought might be good to call our
attention to:

FIRST: and this is especially for the musicians of faith reading- the
first eight verses lay out an introduction to this song lyric (of
course this was sung in Israel as part of the people’s worship of God)
in which Asaph (second only to king David as a writer of Psalms, the
hymnal of Israel) essentially gives one of the Bible’s great
overviews: write and sing songs that both educate as well as remind
the people of God, His provision for them, acts among them and His
commandments to them.

Asaph also makes clear statements about the importance of this sort of
lyricism for the sake of their children and future generations. In
very specific terms he outlines not only God’s faithfulness but
Israel’s horrid blunders and how God at times disciplined, even
destroyed, but also forgave and brought healing and restoration to
them as a people.

Am I the only one who thinks such sorts of lyricism is somewhat
lacking in many of today’s praise and worship songs? What have we
learned? What are we teaching?

I’m not saying either Asaph (nor the Bible overall) is telling us this
is THE template for songwriting, rather making basic observations as I
consider this specific biblical text- though this isn’t the only time
such points are made either in the lyrics of the Bible nor in other
scriptures throughout God’s Word.

What are the implications of these things for me, you, us, for the
church in our time?

SECOND: Asaph recounts various interactions between God and His
people, and notice his accent on God calling the people to repentance
using such things as exile and military defeat as a part of the
process.

He consistently provided for them, was completely faithful to them,
they rebelled and were patently unfaithful, rebellious and trusted in
their own strength, made decisions based on their (rather than His)
desires and they suffered for it.

He brings them to repentance, restoration, brings His provision,
eventually they “go south” spiritually, etc., backslide, suffer for
it, He calls them back to Himself -and this cycle repeats itself again
and again.

Does this scenario remind you of anyone you know? Any group of people
you know on this planet?

Our relationship with God is what it is, not some mythical concept of
what we wish it was. Every day you and I make choices, don’t we?

Though He clearly chose the nation, He also clearly reprimanded, even
to the extent of actually destroying (or allowing their destruction)
some individuals and groups in certain moments. And there is this
thing called “exile”. The nation itself, the people of God were in
history, exiled from Him. YetHis love for them never ceased.

Sound familiar?

Thank God, over and over again He calls them back, restores them to
Himself. They learn to repent and obey.

God is not double-minded. May He help our hearts not be so!

THIRD: Asaph ends this brilliant song with the following, within which
I’ll comment:

v.70 He chose David, his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds.

God, then and now, chooses leaders among His people. Such leaders are
not self-chosen. Note “his servant”. No true leader is more, neither
are they less! God saw- even with David’s eventual poor choices and at
times huge and even murderous sin (which his lust brought him to), God
still saw in David the heart of a servant and so chose him to serve
the people.

God literally took him from the life he knew to another more difficult
and costly but needed vocation- tending human “sheep”, the sheep of
God’s pasture. David had been partly trained by his earlier work.

v.71 He took him away from following the mother sheep, and made him
the shepherd of Jacob, his people, and of Israel, his chosen nation.

Again, God “took him away” from what he had known to an entirely
different life. Such is the call of leadership among the people of
God, a “calling”, not merely a personal, human desire, position or
office. It was and is about feeding and leading the sheep, not about
gaining personal respect.

Note, Asaph is ending a song which accents God’s provision and the
people’s unfaithful rebellion, then God’s relentless mercy calling
them back… he ends this song with God’s call and installation of a
person who will do as they have also done in terms of faithfulness and
at times unfaithfulness… but listen to what Asaph accents in
conclusion:

v.72 David cared for them with pure motives; he led them with skill.

In Hebrew, “And he (David) shepherded them according to the integrity
of his heart. And with the understanding of his hands he led them.???

Here, “integrity” means “integrity, wholeness, fullness, of full
measure”. In other words, he led them without duplicity, both
following God, leading and feeding the sheep of God’s pasture with a
single heart and out of a genuine character.

Oh for leaders who truly lead and care for people like this!

God help us! -Glenn

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