Psalm 78:1-8

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
    incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
    I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
    that our fathers have told us.
We 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.
He established a testimony in Jacob
    and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
    to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
    but keep his commandments;
and 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.

Did your dad tell you some extraordinary stories as you were growing up?  Some stories can be legendary. Stories like how dad had to walk 2 miles to school through 10’ deep snow drifts, against the wind both to and from school. Well, Psalm 78:1-8 reminds us how important it is for us as parents (and grandparents) to tell our children where we have come from and where we have been.  

The first three verses of this passage remind us that the primary tool we use to pass on transformational truth is our mouth. Jesus was certainly a masterful user of words and as verse 2 prophesies, he often told meaningful stories called parables to bring the words to life. It would help us to follow His example and use our words, coupled with stories to transmit truth to the next generation.

The core of this passage in verses 4-6 is a challenge to pass on to the next generation, the knowledge of who God is and what He has done. Not just fantastic stories that entertain but, specifically, the “praiseworthy deeds that He has done, the power and the wonders he has done”. What has God done in your life? Have you given testimony of how God in His mercy has moved you from darkness to light?  “We will not hide them from our children” reminds me of the children’s song that says, “hide it under a bushel?, NO, I’m going to let it shine”  Think of how cruel it will be to purchase a gift for your children but then hide it in a place where they’ll never find it.  Let’s give God glory by proclaiming who He is through the meaningful stories of our lives in order to shine truth into our young ones.

Finally, verses 7 and 8 remind us that there is an ultimate purpose in opening our mouth to share transformational truth to those that come behind us.  These verses could be summarized in the lyrics of the song “Find us Faithful” by Steve Green. 

And we pray, “May all who come behind us find us faithful, may the fire of our devotion light their way, may the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe and the lives we lead inspire them to obey.”  Lord, May the stories of our life lead our next generation to place their trust in Jesus. Amen. 

– Gary Schoenwald

Psalm 77

But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago . . . By your strong arm, you redeemed your people . . . You led your people like a flock of sheep.

Oh, how quickly we forget. One minute we are singing Sunday morning praises with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the next, we wonder if God is still with us. I wish it didn’t happen that way. But I am coming to realize that godliness isn’t so much that we never forget. It’s that our faith inclines our hearts and minds to always remember.

It’s why I love Asaph. He doesn’t get a lot of airtime, getting overshadowed by David, the Shepherd King, Goliath-killing, “man after God’s own heart” kind of Psalmist.  Asaph had a very important role among God’s people, though. He was chief among the Levite musicians. In other words, the leader of the temple worship team. Now, someone like this would surely always have nothing but confident praise on his lips, right? Well, not exactly. Asaph was no walking Christian bumper sticker, always “climbing up sunshine mountain,” as we used to sing in Sunday School. Oh, he loves the Lord with all of his heart. But he’s a real guy, 100% human, a red-blooded Psalmist. He’s my kind of guy, a man of passion. When he struggles, he goes as deep as the valley will let him. And when he trusts and praises, he does it at mountaintop levels. Some of you know exactly what I am talking about.And from Psalm 73-83, he lays his heart out on the pages, for better or for worse…a lot like my prayer journal (which I am thankful is not available to the public, like Asaph’s is).

Asaph wrestled with God, and God always won. 

In Psalm 73, he was struggling with a situation so much that he said that seeking to live wholeheartedly for God was a waste of time. He was troubled, big time. He was bitter. He was senseless, “like a beast” before the Lord. Wow. I’d love to hear those prayers (or maybe not).

Until I came into the sanctuary of the Lord,” he says. Then he remembered how things really are.

Here in Psalm 77, the same thing. Whatever was going on, it was deeply disturbing. He says in verses 2-4 that he groaned; he was too troubled to speak; he couldn’t sleep. Because the God he knew wasn’t behaving like he thought the God he knew ought to behave. Verses 7-9. Is this it, Lord? Are You rejecting us forever? Has Your unfailing love finally failed? Is there no more lovingkindness in Your tank? Have You forgotten how to be merciful?

But then I recall all you have done, O Lord.” 

Not how He has always fixed every situation to make Asaph’s life nice and cozy. No, Asaph’s mind travels back to where he finds unmistakable evidence of God’s goodness and mercy…he looks back to the Lord’s redemption of His people.

“Lord, You chose us. You pursued us. You delivered us from slavery . . . just because You loved us. And like a shepherd, You led us through the wilderness and to life – lovingly, faithfully, and patiently (if you want to see how patiently, read Psalm 78). That’s enough for me to trust with.” 

Asaph knew where to go…better yet, he knew to Whom he should go. It’s not that he never forgot. It’s that eventually, his faith inclined his heart to always remember.

Lord, when I make my regular rants before You about how You ought to run Your world, and specifically the part of Your world called the Carroll family, eventually I realize the rants are leading nowhere. And You lead my heart once again down a road to a place called Calvary. And I remember. You chose me. You pursued me. You delivered me. And You have lovingly, faithfully, and patiently led me through the wilderness and into life, time and time again. And it’s enough for me to trust again. Oh, for grace to trust You more! In Jesus’ name, amen.  

– Dave Carroll

Psalm 30:5-7

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.  Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face; I was dismayed.

I am amazed at how it never seems to matter how often the Lord shows himself faithful and all sufficient…. yet I am so ready to carry my own burdens.  I even realize that I am reluctant to come to Him in prayer until I have identified my specific need, plan of attack, the way it should be implemented, and so on, and then come to the Lord asking Him to give me the strength and grace to have everything turn out as I think it should. Verses 6 & 7 of Psalm 30 show a picture of our struggle with pride; something which is all too familiar.  The Lord has blessed us with many talents; intellect, social skills, physical abilities, and many other thing that enable us to live fruitfully each day.  The problem is we begin to use them in our own strength, and for our own ends.  In our deception, we don’t give thought for our need to dependently walk with Him in areas of ‘our’ perceived strengths.  But the Lord, out of his love for us, will not allow us to continue down the road of pride, which only ends in destruction.  

The apostles James and Peter remind us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  If the Lord himself, the God of creation, decides to hold us back, then all the strength and might we attempt to put together in pursuing something will amount to nothing.  Out of His wisdom, He can place a problem which may seem to be an immovable mountain in our path.  As I have discovered in my own life, it may even be a very small or quite insignificant thing which becomes a huge point of challenge.  Something which looking back I might have said to myself ‘I got this’, even after it gets out of my ability to handle.  Thankfully, in a moment of grace, that mountain can be thrown into the sea and we can experience a new and secure place that the Lord has created for us.  Out of His perfect love and mercy, and at His appointed time, He restores us to joy. And He does it in a way that clearly shows it was Him (not us). 

Lord help us to remember to seek and wait for You. Help us to know that You are Sovereign and You are always at work to humble us, for only then can we see Your face and be renewed. In Your presence is joy. Amen.

– Glen Wilder