Psalms  ◦   Chapter 78

1Pay close attention, my people, to my instructions;
listen carefully to what I have to say.

2I will teach in parables,
revealing truths obscured since the creation of the world,

3explaining the meaning of things we have all heard about —
the things our ancestors have told us.

4We will not conceal these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
of God’s glorious character of love,
his fierce goodness, and the magnificent things he has done.

5He provided a script to teach Israel his healing plan
and establish in them his design protocols for life
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach to their children —

6so that the next generation would share in his remedy —
and to the children of theirs yet to be born,
who would in turn share the remedy with their own children.

7Then they would put their complete trust in God,
remember how he works — applying methods of love and truth —
and live in harmony with his design for life.

8Then they would not end up like their ancestors —
callous, hard-hearted and uncured,
with selfish hearts disloyal to God
and minds that did not know or trust him.

9The descendants of Ephraim, though armed with the arrows of truth,
turned back to paganism when the battle with idolatry came;

10they did not follow the script — the healing plan —
and refused to live in harmony with God’s design for life.

11They forgot the evidence he had provided —
the wonderful manifestation of himself to them:

12he wrought miracles in the sight of their ancestors living in the Zoan,
which exposed the gods of Egypt as false;

13he parted the sea and led them through,
making the waters stand firm like walls;

14he guided them from a cloud by day
and from a pillar of fire by night;

15he caused the desert rocks to burst open
and gave them water from the depths of the earth;

16he caused streams to rush out of the rock
and made their water flow like a river.

17But they continued to distrust God,
rebelling in the desert against the Most High Creator
and pursuing their own selfish desires instead.

18They rejected God’s plan and gave him an ultimatum:
they demanded the food their unhealthy appetites craved.

19They murmured against God, saying,
"Can’t God give us decent food here in the desert?

20Sure, he struck the rock and plenty of water gushed out,
but can he give us a proper meal — the meat that we crave?"

21When the Lord heard that they rejected his healing plan, he was very dismayed;
he released his fire of truth and evidence upon the people,
and set them free to experience what they demanded,

22since they did not believe God
or trust in his treatment plan.

23Even though he had commanded the skies to open
and had unlocked the storehouse of heaven,

24and rained down manna for the people to eat
and gave them bread from heaven;

25even though the people ate the bread of angels
and had more food than they could eat,

26he let them have their way and loosed the east wind
and sent the south wind as well.

27Meat rained down on them like dust —
birds flew in, plentiful like sands on the seashore.

28The birds fell all throughout the camp,
all around their tents.

29They ate until they could eat no more,
for he had given them over to their uncontrolled cravings.

30Before they finished gorging themselves,
while they were still chewing,

31what God was grieved about, happened to them:
the most gluttonous among them died;
the chosen people of Israel were cut down.

32In spite of this evidence that deviating from God’s design destroys,
they refused to trust him and kept on choosing selfishness;
they did not believe in his wonderful ways.

33So their days were useless, expended in futility;
consumed by fear, they died in the desert.

34But others saw what had happened and they sought God;
they turned around and said they would follow him.

35They remembered that God was their refuge and remedy,
that the Creator God was their salvation.

36But their words of commitment were false,
their declarations of love and devotion were lies;

37their hearts were not changed — they were not loyal to him,
so they did not trust him or follow his treatment plan.

38Yet he was compassionate and merciful;
he forgave them and longed to heal their sin-sick condition,
and he did not destroy them.
He gave them countless opportunities to be renewed
and did not leave them to their own devices forever.

39He remembered that they were mere mortals
with lives like a breeze, that quickly pass by.

40Too often they refused his help in the desert —
much grief they caused him in the wilderness!

41Again and again they tested God’s patience;
they worked against his healing plan, frustrating the Holy One of Israel.

42They had no appreciation for what he had done for them;
they forgot that he delivered them from slavery

43and miraculously exposed the gods of Egypt as false —
the powerful evidences presented in Zoan.

44He turned their rivers into blood,
and their false gods could not give them water to drink from their streams.

45He sent biting insects to unsettle their distorted beliefs,
and frogs that overran their land.

46He sent locust to destroy their crops —
evidence that without him, their labor was fruitless.

47He destroyed their vines with hail,
and with freezing rain shattered their fig trees.

48He rained hail upon their cattle
and sent lightning strikes upon their livestock.

49He let loose his anger at the lies that held them captive;
he revealed his wrath and rage at the sin-sickness that held them in bondage;
he sent angels with power to expose the lies and reveal him as their remedy.

50He made a therapeutic intervention — a way for the sin-sickness to be defeated;
those who refused his remedy, he did not prevent from dying,
but gave the rebellious over to their terminal choice.

51He put the firstborn of the hostile Egyptians to sleep in the grave —
the firstfruits of the procreative power of the descendants of Ham.

52But he led his helpers out like a flock of sheep,
guiding them safely through the wilderness.

53He protected them, so they were not afraid
, but the sea drowned their enemies.

54Thus he brought them to the border of the land he set apart for them —
to the Mount he reclaimed for the manifestation of his power of truth and love.

55He drove out the nations before them
and divided the land, giving each tribe their portion;
he let the tribes of Israel settle into their tents.

56But they tested whether God and his methods were true —
they rebelled against the Creator God and his intent;
they did not follow his treatment plan.

57Like their ancestors, they were non-compliant and refused his remedy;
warped in their thinking, they were as unreliable as a crooked bow.

58They distressed him with their false remedies;
they aroused his passion to help them understand
what they were really doing to themselves by worshiping false gods.

59When God heard that they preferred their sickness to his cure,
he was very distressed
and stepped back completely,
letting Israel experience what they had themselves chosen.

60He departed from the little theater-sanctuary at Shiloh —
the tent he had set up to teach the people of his healing plan.

61Without his presence, the ark — the symbol of restored unity with God —
was taken away from them;
the emblem of his splendid healing plan
was captured by their adversaries.

62He surrendered them to their own treatment program
and they were destroyed by their enemies.
He was very angry at what his helpers inflicted upon themselves.

63Their young men were killed in war,
so their young women had no men to marry.

64Their priests, who peddled a false remedy, were slaughtered,
and their widows had no time to mourn.

65When enough evidence had been revealed,
the Lord rose up, like a person aroused from a sleep,
like a warrior awakening from a stuporous grief.

66He beat back the enemies of truth and love — the purveyors of false remedies —
yet they remained unhealed;
he gave them over to shame that they could not escape.

67He refused to place the tabernacle amongst Joseph’s descendants;
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim.

68To reveal his love,
he chose the tribe of Judah at Mount Zion.

69There he built his temple, to restore humanity to his highest perfection
and establish himself on earth by becoming one of us, forever.

70He chose David as his agent and human ancestor
and brought him from the sheep pens,

71from tending ewes and lambs,
to be king of Israel —
the shepherd of God’s people.

72David cared for them with sincerity — with a heart desiring to do what is right —
and he led them skillfully.